So I was massively looking forward to the iOS release of Rymdkapsel. (Pictured above.) The game first came out on the PS Vita a while back, and I think I only heard about it when it was announced it was also coming to iOS. (Probably via TouchArcade.) Anyway, it came out last week, and I played it exactly twice. For a little longer than 45 minutes each time. There are several aspects of the game that I think are awesome. The music is great, for instance. I also find the visual aesthetic to be simply amazing. There are also several areas where I think the game falls down, and replayability is definitely my biggest concern.
Rymdkapsel is a Real Time Strategy game where you don’t control your units movement, only their tasks. The twist is that you have to place your buildings adjacent to one another, and they’re going to be shaped like Tetris pieces. There are a couple of points around the tetris shaped buildings where I think the game kinda fails. 1) You have to connect your buildings to a pathway (that you also build out of tetris shapes), but however the game determines where that building has a door into the hallway is flawed. Often the doorways will appear in a space that is not the closest to your resources, meaning your workers have to walk farther to get into the room, which can be very frustrating, especially when there are walls adjacent to the walkway much closer. 2) There are very few obstacles to building your (what is it? city? space station? abstract area?), and so the tetris aspect here is pretty minimal. The placement does factor into how long it’ll take your workers to get from place to place, and you want to optimize for that, as well as getting good coverage with your military buildings, but otherwise there isn’t much strategy (or point) in using tetris shapes for the buildings. It does look damn cool though.
My final nitpick is that the game has a very definite difficulty curve, and there is a point after which you basically won’t be able to play much longer. This in and of itself would not be a big deal… but that is the only mode of play. So the game shares this aspect with tetris also, you play until you die, and then you play until you die again. It is a race for highest points, and that’s it. There are exactly 3 achievements in the game. I would love to have seen a lot more achievements. Or some additional game modes. As-is, I will maybe play this one more time to get the third achievement. Maybe.
In other Tetris-related news, my Tetris google alert is BLOWING UP with news about Tetris Monsters, which EA recently announced for Japanese release. I think it’s gotten enough buzz that they’ll probably look into releasing it here, but I’m guessing it’ll be a while. The game is (as far as anyone can tell from the limited information available) essentially a cross between Tetris and Pokemon. I want some more information before I get excited about it, and frankly, EA’s record for taking a franchise and turning it into a freemium mess isn’t very good right now. So I’m not expecting much.
There are actually 5 achievements. But there are only 3 missions within the game.
The game links to an external achievement/scoring system, in that there are 5 listed.
3 are just the same as the missions, the other two are:
Beat wave 28 without researching any monoliths
Achieve all three ‘missions’ within one game.
Though I very much agree on the re-playability. Even if the monoliths/resource locations were randomised this would help.
I think the game could have been really awesome, but there are several design issues that drag it down:
1. Too much aliasing on diagonal edges. The ascetic of the game is awesome, but the jagged diagonals detract from the otherwise sharp simplicity.
2. Random tetromino shapes added needless complexity. It is possible to lay down a tetromino as a corridor and then cancel it in order to get a better shape. I think the gameplay would be more satisfying if each room type had it’s own shape or you couldn’t cancel a shape to get a new one.
3. The door issue is kind of aggravating – especially that you can’t add a corridor to the opposite side of a room after the fact..
4. The worker pathfinding sucks. Workers seem to choose the most inefficient routes possible.
5. Tutorial is kind of slow and has no way to fast-forward or backup.
6. Gameplay is also slow once you understand what is going on. It would be nice to be able to speed that up too, especially for anyone trying to get a high score.
7. The room choices are kind of WTF – reactor, extractor, weapons I totally get, but the garden -> kitchen -> quarters chain that you need to setup for workers feels a little complicated compared to the rest of the game.
This game seems popular and I think if someone makes a more polished version it could become really successful.