Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Available on: Mobile, Playstation Vita
Reviewer’s Note: I played the Vita version of this game. There may be some differences between versions.
To start this off, no I did not just suffer a spasm and dump a random title on the screen. Rymdkapsel is a minimalistic strategy game in which your goal is to survive waves of enemies while researching monoliths. Sound easy? Good. It’s not. Don’t worry though, it’s not entirely your fault.
In Rymdkapsel you only have three goals: Research all four monoliths, do it in under 45 minutes, and survive 28 waves of enemies. To do this you have to build and maintain a space station with various rooms. Rooms will show up in randomized Tetris-like shapes and you have to connect them all to corridors that you build. Each room has a purpose and most of the times you want at least a few of each. You want a base compact enough so that noting is too far from each other, but you need to keep building out so that you can reach the monoliths. To make your minions (as they are lovingly called) work you simply drag them around to each job on the bottom screen. It started to frustrate me that I couldn’t choose which minion exactly to send to each task though. The game automatically picks whoever seems to be the least busy. It doesn’t matter if they’re already on the other side of the ship and have a painfully long walk to take now, they’re the guy who’s going to get selected.
Actually, I had quite a few problems with the AI in this game as it feels like they’re always working against you. You can assign several people to construction and they’ll all try to build the same thing, something that doesn’t really work. Corridors are extremely cheap and only require one of each material, but your minions will insist on trying to bring it multiple of each. Once the first one gets there, the rest of them drop their materials, pause for a few seconds as they try to decide what to do next, and then all waste time trying to be the first person to complete the next task. The same problem shows up when you assign a minion to any new job. Tell them to research a monolith? They’ll pause, consider this for a second or two, then go find a monolith that they can research. Be damned if it’s the one closest or the one that most your minions are working on, they’ll just pick one. Assign them to defense? Then they’ll claim a gun in a defense room. The problem there is that they “claim” the gun before they even get to the room, meaning that even if minions are right next to an empty defense room with available guns they can’t take it because the gun is “claimed.” Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense with minions claiming guns on the other side of the station, pretty much leaving them screwed when aliens show up. And oh man do the aliens quickly make a mess of you.
There’s a little red bar at the bottom of the screen that fills, and when it does the aliens attack. The first ten or so waves aren’t so bad, in fact the game is almost unbearably slow then. But once it starts to pick up it feels like there’s no middle ground. The game goes right from slow to fast and if you aren’t ready for that moment you may as well restart. You really need to have a plan worked out in your head and be able to run it perfectly. You always have to know when to have workers doing what you need them to and when to defend, and you have to take the risks of having them work through an attack. The first few times it’s fun, but after a while it can start to get grading. Like I said, the first ten waves feel unbearably slow. The reason for this is because each time you start a new round they make you pay attention to a tutorial and you start off with minimal workers. These first bunch of waves, which could last a good 20 minutes, are so slow that I was actually putting the game down and letting it run while doing other things between them.
Rymdkapsel isn’t a bad game really. It can actually start to get pretty fun once you get into it. I just kept getting frustrated with the AI and the crazy spike in difficulty. Managing and constructing the base is fun and there’s quite a bit of joy in watching everything come together. You just really need to be into it to get to those moments.