Wednesday, June 4, 2014

PC Spotlight #94: Capsule

Title: Capsule
Developer: Adam Saltsman, Robin Arnott
Platforms: PC, Mac
Price: $4.99
Mechanically and artistically, Capsule is very minimal. The only controls are for thrust and sending out a pulse that identifies objects in range. The only visual is your lo-fi radar screen.
But Capsule isn't about complex mechanics or stunning graphics. It excels on another level and that is immersion and tension. Many of the other reviews out there have said that as well and it's absolutely true. From the start, you're immersed in the limited claustrophobic view, the smudged flickering screen your only connection with the environment. You feel as if at any moment the screen's going to go dark, your vessel barely hanging on by a thread.

But the audio brings everything together. Playing Capsule in the dark and with headphones is a must. Your labored gasping breaths. The scrambled radio signals fading in and out across the expanse (of space? the ocean depths?). The muted rumbling when you collide with debris. In terms of crafting a tangible tense atmosphere through audio and sound alone, Capsule is masterful.
Gameplay-wise, Capsule is simple yet tense and not easy. It's a balancing act between exploration and desperation. Fuel and oxygen are your two resources and you need both to explore further and reach each new destination. As the distance between locations increase and new dangers emerge, managing that balance becomes increasingly challenging. Failure isn't a game over screen; it's being dead in the water, gasping your final breaths as your screen dims and fogs up.

An enigmatic story unfolds as you traverse the lonely expanse. Told through logs, messages, and emails, each new destination reveals more of the narrative, also acting as checkpoints and refilling your fuel and oxygen.
Capsule is a minimalist experience that absolutely delivers and I'd recommend the game for its tense gameplay, fantastic atmosphere, and immersive soundscape

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