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‘rymdkapsel’ for iOS and Android game review

rymdkapsel is a strategy game with a tower defense element. The game was originally released on the PlayStation Vita but has now been ported over to iOS and Android.

In rymdkapsel, you build your own world around you. You even create the material required to build your world yourself. All of this is accomplished using the minions at your disposal, which can also be created. And when you are under attack, the game switches over to tower defense mode. Sounds interesting? Let’s find out more.

Title
rymdkapsel
Developer
webbfarbror AB
Platform
iOS
Android
Release Date

August 1, 2013
August 1, 2013
Content rating

9+
Everyone
Size
27.7MB
29MB
Price
$3.99

Gameplay

In rymdkapsel, you start off with a couple of minions by your side and some resources. To build your station, you have to construct rooms and connect them using corridors. There are six types of rooms but they cannot connect to each other and can only connect via a corridor.

You start off by placing a corridor, which is then built using the resources. You drag corridors or rooms from the top and they are shaped like Tetris pieces. Upon creating the room, they start producing a certain type of resource that you can use to create more rooms and thus increase the size of your station.

There are six types of rooms: Reactors that provide the blue energy cubes, Extractor that extracts the pink resources from the particle fields scattered around, Gardens that produce the sludge that then goes into the Kitchen that produces the food. The food is required for both creating new minions and some of the rooms. Then there is a Weapons room, which lets you fight off attacks and Quarters, which produces more minions when some of them eventually die.

The minions are at your command and using a swipe gesture at the bottom of the screen you can command them various tasks such as construction for building rooms, defense for when you are under attack, food service to create food and new minions and research when you finally reach one of the monoliths.

There are other things to consider. The Reactor room is self sufficient and can produce resources independently. The Extractor room has to be placed next to a particle field to work. These particle fields tend to deplete over time and the Extractor room next to it then becomes useless and has to be sold to recover some resources. The Quarters room is useless without the Kitchen, which in turn is useless without the Garden room. The Garden room without the Kitchen also has no purpose.

When placing the rooms, you have to make sure you connect them to corridors or the minions won’t be able to travel to them (actually, the game won’t even let you place a room unless it’s connected to a corridor). You also have to take into consideration expansion while placing, so you don’t end up blocking all sides of a corridor and have no space to connect another room or corridor for expansion.

You also can’t place all the rooms on one side or else while constructing on the other side your minions will end up wasting precious time simply traveling from one end to another. Placing them in a central location or on each end speeds up construction time.

All this seems confusing when you read it and like a lot of things to remember but the game’s tutorial does a good job of explaining it to you so within minutes you know what you have to do.

The game is split into construction and tower defense elements. When you are not building your station and researching monoliths you are fighting against attacks. You have a bar at the bottom of the screen that slowly fills up and warns you of an impending attack. The attack comes in from every side and go straight for your minions. If your minions are not in the Quarters room then they become sitting ducks and are taken out immediately. Once in Quarters room they fight back and also defend themselves to some extend. Once you destroy the attackers you can go back to your construction or research until the next attack wave.

The time between the attack waves decreases after each attack. The number of attackers also increases in each wave. This tends to pose a problem after a while because it seems you can only have four minions, at least till the point I managed to survive. Also, the minions don’t move very fast (you need to research more monoliths to increase their speed). After a while, you have no choice but watch your minions get slaughtered as the four of them just can’t handle all the attackers.

I’ll admit, I haven’t beaten the game yet. I haven’t even finished the first level (actually, I’m not sure how many levels are there and if there are more than one). The game is very slow paced so by the time you die you would have spent almost an hour slowly building the station. It’s rather heartbreaking to spend so much time and then die and have to start all over again next time. It’s not a game for the impatient or those who give up easily. Only with careful planning and repeated plays will you be able to complete the game.

If you are the patient sort, however, there is a lot of fun to be had here. Building the level block by block and then using the resources generated to expand further is a lot more fun than it sounds. The tower defense element keeps you on your toes and prevents you from slipping into boredom. You also tend to develop a fondness for your minions despite their barebones appearance and expendable nature and feel slightly bad every time one of them lays down their life to save your station.

The flexible nature of the game means that you can approach it differently every time and it will look different depending upon how you construct it. You learn from you mistakes and tend to place rooms smartly to minimize travel and make sure you never run out of resources or minions. This means there is a lot of replay value here as even if the outcome is the same the journey there can be very different.

Graphics and Sound

rymdkapsel is a 3D game with simple polygonal shapes for the objects. Even your minions are nothing but rectangular cubes. Visually, the game is simple but attractive, although the starry pattern rotating in the background can be bit distracting at times.

You can zoom in and out with the pinch to zoom gesture. There is a fair amount of aliasing, quite noticeable on the low resolution display of the iPad mini but probably not so much on high resolution panels such as the Retina displays.

Problem comes in when playing on the tiny display of the iPhone 4 and 4S (and even the 5, for that matter). It’s hard to see the text clearly at that size and makes dragging items bit difficult. This game is clearly made for tablets, if it is a 7-inch one. Unless you have a 5.0-inch or above display to play on, you should think twice before sinking your $4 on this game.

In terms of audio, there is a constant background theme that keeps playing that subtly picks up tempo when the game switches to action mode but plays along a lazy pace otherwise. It’s not particularly noteworthy and is a missed opportunity at creating a truly brilliant soundtrack that matches the rest of the game.

Verdict

rymdkapsel is a very unique game, in the way it combines strategy and tower defense gameplay into one. The homage to Tetris is a particularly nice touch, not just in the way the blocks are shaped like Tetris blocks but also appear in the same random order as on Tetris.

The slow gameplay may not be to everyone’s taste. Also, the difficulty tends to ramp up a bit too quickly later, which catches you off guard. Lastly, this is not a game to play on smartphones and is best played on a tablet. If, however, you are willing to overlook these minor shortcomings, rymdkapsel will keep you entertained for a long time.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pros: Fun, challenging gameplay, plenty of replay value
Cons: Not playable on small screen smartphones, underwhelming soundtrack, bit pricey

Download: iOS | Android

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