19/04/2017

☆ Review: Captain Kaon "Time To Buckle Up & Pray To The God Of Inertia!" - PC ☆ #GameDev

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Captain Kaon - PC


The developer at Engage Pixel previously worked at Creative Assembly, which you will be familiar with if you have ever played a Total War video game (they also created the mighty Stunt Car Racer on the Amiga back in 1989) this is Engage Pixel’s first title and they’ve created a great throwback to a very specific style of game that a lot of people may have missed out on the first time around.

The soundless introduction to the game sets the scenario, there has been an alien invasion and your character has been imprisoned for reasons unclear but as all other personnel are unavailable, you have been released from your cell to fight in this intergalactic war.

The game-play is very much in the theme of games such as Thrust and Gravity Force 2 but perhaps has the most in common with Sub Terrania on the Sega Mega Drive (at least this is the game that I was most reminded of) in that it’s quite hectic with a driving, well-suited soundtrack (although more on that later).




Graphics have a hi-res PC circa 96/97 feel, very sharp and distinctive which is reflected in the tightness and accuracy of the controls of the game, a key point in this particular genre as poor controls can often be the deadliest enemy.
"Pro Tip - Before you play, pray to the Gods of inertia"

Game-pad wise, Left trigger controls the boost, right trigger drops bombs, A is the action button whilst the left thumb-stick changes the ship’s direction and the right thumbstick controls the direction of fire.


Captain Kaon has been in development for several years and was entirely developed by one man, the art style here is very British and the character portraits especially reminded me of the Amiga in the early to mid-nineties (the intro also reminded me of Captive and it’s sequel, Liberation).


The first few missions are much-needed tutorials to get you used to the gameplay. I was appreciative of this as I haven’t played a game in this vein for so long. As mentioned above, the controls are accurate and intuitive but the game has several mechanics that do need to be explained so that you are able to successfully complete the missions ahead such as carrying batteries to unpowered doors, how to attack enemy spawn points, etc.


With regards to the music in the game, whilst it is quite suited to the style of Captain Kaon, I must admit I found myself tiring of it quite quickly. As the game’s difficulty is quite steep and missions will either be regularly re-tried or could take a long time as you plan your attack carefully so as not to be overwhelmed by the enemy, I became very aware of the music looping and I did find it a shame that there wasn’t much in the way of variety here (or perhaps each in-game track being longer would have helped). A slight change of audio would make tackling the same mission over and over again maybe less of a chore (although if you are good at the game then I suppose this wouldn’t be an issue…unfortunately, I am not)


The level design is very crisp and requires a lot of skill to navigate, in fact, it’s at this point in the review that I would like to say the game is not for the faint of heart. The game (for me, at least) got difficult very, very quickly, by the third mission I was barely making it back to base in one piece although it does give you a real sense of achievement. The game’s difficulty comes from it’s chosen design and your ability as a player, not from any negative sources such as bad design etc. and so it gets manic and thrilling pretty much instantly.




After completing a mission you can exploit resources which can result in the mother ship getting attacked and having to defend it or in some locations, heal your mother ship (The Argus) should it have been attacked, this is a nice touch as it adds a strategic element to the over-arching plot of the game and also  gives it an edge of simulation beyond the frantic action of the missions


Each level isn’t a straight run through, you will be heading back to your base to re-supply on missiles and also to fix your armour


The screen can seem very busy and the HUD can occasionally get in the way of the action, especially the map.


One strange design choice I noticed was when your ship is low on health, instead of an alarm sounding or maybe a visual cue such as the screen briefly flashing, a character portrait shows on the left-hand side of the screen with a large text bubble which is quite obtrusive on-screen, usually when your ship is low on health you are in the middle of frantic combat, desperately trying to either kill the enemies surrounding you or you are trying to get away from the fire-fight. Either way, having a large portion of the screen being taken up by someone telling you that you are about to die isn’t particularly helpful.

Summary:
This game is great for someone who likes a really tough challenge, the game doesn’t hold your hand and when you succeed a mission it definitely feels worth it.

There is definitely a lot of value here, there are two planets to blast through with Ceres being the first and Mars unlocking after you have completed Ceres.

One of you will have to tell me how this all ends as I fear my limited skill set won’t allow me to see what fate belies Captain Kaon.

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Engage Pixel















Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)