Weird vegetation, underground villages, and even questionable terrain are just some of the things you’ll run into as you make your way through the mysterious alien world in Capsized. This 2D action platformer features plenty of challenges to overcome and simple puzzles to solve, and ultimately rewards you for exploring all of its nooks and crannies. Though it might only take you a couple of hours to finish, Capsized offers enough enjoyable moments to make this a worthwhile trip--if you can make it past some technical issues along the way.
Capsized follows the journey of a squad of astronauts shipwrecked on a strange planet, and one crewmember's efforts to help them make it back home. Their story is told through illustrated panels shown during each stage’s loading screen, so a lot of the details as to what’s going on are left up to you to figure out. The overall ambience, as well as its narrative structure, gets you engaged in how the story is developing, and makes you wonder what new things await your little astronaut. The game also features a calming, almost ominous soundtrack that works hand in hand with the story, further enhancing the feeling of being alone in an unknown world.
At its core, Capsized plays like a classic platformer with 2D shooter controls, and features the occasional puzzle here and there. Levels present you with objectives to complete, such as targets to destroy, teammates to rescue, or energy cores to collect. Some of these objectives repeat over time, but the campaign is relatively brief, so it manages to stay fresh. Plus, because each stage is structured differently, you’ll spend a lot of your time learning and exploring your new surroundings and fighting off hordes of angry aliens.
You'll find various weapons throughout each stage, so you’ll always have an array of firepower to choose from. Even if you're well-prepared, shooting down enemies isn’t always easy, partly because some weapons--like the one-shot laser beam--just don’t work well when you’re attacked in swarms. Similarly, cramped areas make it hard to distinguish what’s an alien and what’s just part of the stage. To make matters worse, each time you get hit, your screen gets smeared with red blotches that further block your view, making survival at critical moments not so much dicey as frustrating.
When it comes to simply moving or scaling walls on your own, you’ll find that your astronaut will often get stuck on surfaces or cling to them when you don’t want to. Most stages are expansive and vertical in structure, so having to grudgingly scale walls when your jetpack runs out of fuel doesn't make for a fun time. We even encountered a few instances when we went through floors and got stuck on the other side. The game has been out on PC for a few years now, so it’s unfortunate that bugs still exist on the console version.
Campaign mode itself may be short, but each level gives you a score depending on how well you managed to complete it and how many secret areas you were able to discover. Besides unlocking a handful of arcade modes like Survival and Time-Attack, there’s really no incentive to go back and replay each stage (unless you want to beat your friends’ leaderboard score). Additionally, you can also play campaign mode with a buddy--but strangely enough, you need to first enable it from the options menu. While the campaign is exactly the same, playing co-op makes completing certain areas a little easier. On the other hand, straying too far away from your teammate can lead to some disorienting moments where the camera zooms out too much, making it hard to see what’s going on.
Capsized isn’t without its fair share of problems, nor does it provide something you haven’t seen before. Still, it does a great job telling a story of survival and creates an eerie ambience worth experiencing. Not everyone will appreciate its perplexing soundtrack, nor tolerate its iffy controls, but if you don’t mind putting up with some irritating moments and would rather play the game on your console, this little astronaut tale is for you.