Rymdkapsel, a minimalist RTS game from Grapefrukt, is now available from the app store. Using simple building mechanics, sparse hands-off combat, and just a light smattering of overall goals to achieve, Rymdkapsel’s gameplay reinforces its presentation to offer a clever and challenging experience.
- Minimalistic art style uses color-coded blocks for easy identification
- Soundtrack is space-y and fits the theme well
- Controls are intuitive, requiring simple drags to place rooms and delegate tasks
- Goals are straightforward
- Little slow in the early going, especially upon replays
The goals you are asked to complete are three-fold: research all Monoliths that reside in the outer reaches of space, survive 28 combat waves, and complete Monolith research in less than 45 real-time minutes. You are initially presented with a T-shaped configuration of rooms, with a corridor at the center of this shape. The other 3 branches provide resources needed to set up additional rooms from the start. The room layouts are meant to represent the blueprints of an ever-expanding spacecraft occupied by white rectangular crew members who use the available resources to create new rooms and use weapons to fight off enemies. If your crew members are all wiped out, the game ends. There are a variety of rooms to build, including corridors, extractors, reactors, gardens, kitchens, weapons, and quarters. Building rooms is as simple as dragging your finger from the corresponding room name at the top of the screen and connecting it to a corridor upon your ship. All rooms must be connected to a corridor, so planning your layout is pretty crucial to having an effective ship. Rooms come in tetromino shapes, and you cannot control which configuration you will receive, so this can throw a bit of a wrench into your plans.
In order to become functional, each room requires a certain number of resources before it can “go live.” Your crew members can be shifted into various jobs by swiping along the screen bottom and moving them from one job title (idle, engineer, food service, construction, defense, and research) to another. They will automatically take on their assigned task, walking resources from one location to another until the room is ready, for instance. Once functional, resource rooms generate up to 4 units of whatever resource it develops. Extractors mine items from pink clusters floating around the ship, while reactors generate power units, gardens grow sludge that is turned into food for the crew in the kitchen, weapons create lasers used to fight off enemy waves, and quarters provide living space for additional workers. Completing research of each Monolith will reward you with some type of bonus, such as slowing attack speed of your enemies or increasing the speed of your crew. A red bar slowly fills along the lower part of the screen to indicate the next attack, and an audible alarm will sound when there are only a few seconds left, giving you a chance to reassign workers to weapons rooms in time for battle. Combat is automatic, giving you zero control over what actually happens aside from providing enough crew members in weapons rooms to survive. Perhaps the biggest knock against the game is the inability to speed things up in the early going, as everything moves pretty slowly and it can get a bit boring upon additional playthroughs once you know what you are doing.
Graphically, we really dig the look and style of the game, with its Tetris-like configurations, color-coded rooms, and simple interface. Colors really pop against the black space backdrop and the animations, while extremely basic, are satisfying. When a crew member has nothing to do, he lies down (or goes horizontal) to indicate this, which was a quirky but cute detail. The text is a bit on the tiny side, but still readable. The soundtrack is space-y and ethereal to fit the style, and the controls are drag-based, with good responsiveness when assigning jobs or creating rooms. You can rotate a room before placing it by tapping a second finger on-screen while holding the shape in place with your first finger. Invalid placements are indicated by a red perimeter, while valid placement sights will ring the room in white. A confirmation tap is needed before placement is finalized. You can pinch to zoom or pan around the screen by dragging you finger, too.
Replay value is decent, as you can attempt to survive more and more waves of enemies or complete research as quickly as possible. It would be great to see additional goals added, and it would be fantastic to have a fast-forward button to speed things up. Completing all Monolith research in 45 minutes seems like a daunting challenge due to the slow nature of the game. There are 2 GameCenter leaderboards for fastest time completing Monolith research and most waves survived, as well as achievements to earn to earn for your three goals. A universal app for $3.99, Rymdkapsel is an intriguing 4.5-Dimple challenge.