One of my hands-down favorite indie titles that I’ve played since I started getting into the indie gaming scene is Aquaria – an underwater take on the “Metroidvania” gameplay with a rich, deep story and some beautifully hand-drawn graphics. When Sam first posted the story about (currently) PC-only co-op title Capsized, I was immediately struck by the game’s visuals, which bear some similarity to Aquaria’s, and hoped that the rest of this overlooked title could match even a portion of the experience I found in that aquatic adventure. My hopes were not dashed.
Capsized’s story is told prior to each level in the campaign in just a few still panels. Your ship experiences some kind of malfunction and the crew is forced to make for the escape pods. Yours happens to crash on an alien planet and so you boldly set out to find other survivors/some means of escape. Over the next 12 levels, you do manage to accomplish just that, but of course not everything goes to plan. While many of the twists and plot elements aren’t exactly anything new, those simple story panels make it more compelling. Seeing the grim determination etched into the little astro-explorer’s face after a particularly disheartening discovery has some impact, even with the somewhat cartoony appearance of the protagonist.
The core gameplay of Capsized centers on platforming/shooter/physics mechanics. Each level has some goal to achieve or a destination that you have to reach, and in between you and that goal are plenty of hostile fauna and natives, as well as some large rocks, gas-filled pits, and other hazards. True to its sci-fi base, Capsized employs a few futuristic technologies to help you overcome all of these, such as a space suit that allows you to jump up walls, a jet pack, and some pretty devastating weaponry.
You also have a “grappling” hook type device that allows you to freely latch on to and swing from any surface, useful for crossing those gas-filled pits when your rocket fuel is running low. This same hook, however, can also be used to pick up objects in the environment to either clear a path or fling them at some incoming alien life forms to put them down for good. Upon completion of each level, you receive stars based on how quickly you completed the level, the difficulty you selected (three total), and how many secrets you’ve collected in that level. All those stars you collect over the levels are used to unlock additional game modes to enjoy; from a mano a bot-o deathmatch against a hostile AI controlled astro-explorer to a survival mode where you and a friend can fend off an ever increasing number of foes. Even once the main campaign is done, then, there’s plenty still to enjoy.
All of this makes for an incredibly fun couch co-op venture, with one player using keyboard and mouse while the other uses a gamepad, or both players using his/her own gamepad. The entire campaign can be played with a friend and this really is the way to go. Taking down enemies with a flung rock is one thing; taking down enemies with a rock that you and your friend are juggling back and forth, though, is something else. Physics-based puzzles/gameplay always introduces the opportunity for some craziness and plenty of opportunities to help a friend in need, and Capsized certainly provides both. That craziness can occasionally be more of a result of an equation that runs a bit amok and leads to some glitches, but these occurrences are few and far between.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first started playing Capsized. Sure, the graphics were pretty and lured me in, but the gameplay itself proved to be even more rewarding. As a co-op adventure, Capsized is well worth the price of admission, and the bonus modes you unlock along the way keep things going even after the campaign is complete.
The Co-Op Experience: Play through the entire campaign and challenge modes with a friend as you make your way off of a harsh alien world.
Capsized is For: Fans of action platformers and physics-based puzzlers