Capsized Review


I did not enjoy playing Capsized.

On paper, it sounds fine, if unremarkable. It started off as a Commander Keen-esque, side-scrolling, shooty platformer with floaty jumps, questionable grab physics, too-quick deaths, and a very limited palette of enemies and environments. Halfway through the game, however, it turns into almost a survival horror game, where you stumble through underground deathtrap caves with only the light of your flashlight guiding you. Cheap, instant-deaths abound.

CapsizedLet’s start from the beginning and see where it all went wrong. Your ship crashes on an alien planet and you have to rescue your crewmates before finding a way home. The story is told with silent storyboards that have almost a Simpsons brand of art to them. It’s cute and weird. Then the gameplay starts.

The first thing I thought was, “This game uses a LOT of buttons.” Now, I understand that the Xbox 360 controller has a lot of buttons. But for a game this simple, you really don’t need to try so hard. The jetpack button could really just be the jump button pushed twice. Having the right stick aim battling the lock-on shoulder bumper button for control is always a disaster, especially when the lock-on only works about three-fourths of the time (and rarely focuses on the enemy you need it to be focusing on). The gravity hook physics don’t seem to have any relation to how real-world pushing and pulling work, and are more a hindrance than anything (this entire mechanic feels shoehorned in, actually). And there’s a strong vertical aspect to many levels, but climbing walls with your jumps is hit-and-miss (sticking to walls works about half as well as it needs to), and falling too far kills you instantly. Sometimes. It all seems so arbitrary.

CapsizedThe worst part is the difficulty spike halfway through the game. Aliens in Capsized have this uncanny ability to zoom into the viewable screen and hit you before you have time to react. There are also plenty of nigh-unavoidable flame and arrow traps, and missing one floaty jump means a quick death on the ground far below. Worse, a death means your jetpack fuel is emptied, so even though you’re respawned at the last arbitrary checkpoint (which might be in the middle of a flame trap, by the way), the level might now be unbeatable. You can wall jump upwards infinitely and you have a gravity hook for added maneuverability, sure, but not every level can be scaled like that – you’re basically screwed. This is infuriating. A few dozen out-of-the-blue deaths and I was actually in a bad mood. Not mad, like after getting shot by a Call of Duty camper, but actually sad. “I lost my appetite” sad. “I want to go home now” sad. “I miss my dead family” sad. “I got yelled at by a hobo” sad.

Capsized seemed like it would be a passable, unmemorable XBLA experience. It has extra arcade modes, co-op play, replayable levels with leaderboards to top, lots of different weapons, plenty of secrets to find, and alien environments to explore – all the fixings of a solid indie game. Little did I expect that all of the game’s numerous oversights and little headaches would not only stress me out, but also seem to actively collaborate to make me feel literally forlorn as I was playing, to the point where I couldn’t play it for more than about thirty minutes at a time without wanting to do ANYTHING else in the world. That’s not how a game should make me feel.

I’ve already deleted it from my hard drive. I wish I could delete it from my memory, as well.


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Author: Nick Simberg View all posts by
Nick has been gaming since before he was born. He was weaned on the original Legend of Zelda and sees the recent entries as far too easy. Today, he has a beard and usually spends his nights writing for his own self-made game blog,

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