Capsized is one of those indie games that’s years in the making. Normally, a game that takes years to develop is an instant red flag, but in the independent world, things are considerably more sunny. Those years are meticulously spent refining and polishing the game, mostly due to direct user feedback and/or crippling insecurity on the developers’ part. I don’t know if Alien Trap Games took so long to release Capsized because of the former or the latter, but personally I couldn’t care less, because it’s a fantastic game that everyone needs to play.
There isn’t much to the plot of Capsized; it’s your standard “stranded on an alien planet and must rebuild spaceship” generic story that a lot of indie games employ. Luckily, Capsized isn’t about story, and is focused entirely on gameplay. It’s a platforming shooter, much like Metroid, translated to the PC. WASD controls the space dude, and the mouse cursor acts as the shooting mechanic. If it sounds awkward, it is initially, mostly due to W (up) acting as jump, but after a couple levels the controls because surprisingly intuitive. There is 360 controller support, but the right analog stick is much much too imprecise to control the shooting cursor, and like me, you’ll quickly switch back to the keyboard.
The action in Capsized is hot and heavy, with each level boasting a decent amount of enemies to gun down. Not only do you have a vast selection of weapons and artillery that can be picked up throughout the level, each with an additional alt fire, you also have a grappling hook ability. Swinging from ledges is increasingly fun, and in intense battles, it can be a lifesaver, but what ups the awesomeness of the grappling hook is that you can latch onto boulders and other flotsam lying about the stages and propel them at enemies. There is a special kind of primal joy in getting hold of a flaming torch and hurling it at an unsuspecting alien grunt, resulting in green alien viscera staining the immediate vicinity of the chaos.
Oh, and did I mention there were jetpacks? Yep, you also have a jetpack, and it controls magnificently. While fuel is uncommon and precious, it’s nonetheless fun as hell to hover just outside the range of an enemy and just absolutely wreck him with shotgun blasts. When it comes to fighting the flying enemies, a jetpack is absolutely invaluable, especially if there’s an entire swarm directed your way. It’s an amazing feeling, jetpacking away from a swarm of alien bees (or wasps, or whatever the hell they are) while you’re simultaneously shooting them with ion blasts and evading any other aliens in your way.
On the visual side of things, Capsized is absolutely stunning. The backgrounds and character styles look like what would happen if you put Jonathan Blow and H.P. Lovecraft into a bag and forced them to procreate; they look genuinely alien, and in a way that really does invoke feelings of being lost in a completely foreign land. Credit to the marvelous, minimalist sound design as well for additionally bolstering those emotions.
With twelve progressively more difficult levels in the campaign, which took me about five hours to finish, and a co-op/deathmatch mode, Capsized is more than worth the $10 it’s going for on Steam. It’s yet another solid entry into the independent games field, and has the potential to be one of the most popular games of the year. While that’s naturally a good thing for Alien Trap, that’s doubly good for us, as that means we may be able to see more great work from such a solid independent developer. Highly recommended for everyone.