“Capsule” is a claustrophobic survival game about the mind behind “Canabalt”


Capsule is uncomfortable to play. The game has you piloting a small ship, presumably underwater, using only a radar screen to guide you. All you can do is move and stay alive, but in fact, it’s not easy. There will be many times when you will find yourself drifting without electricity, panting as the last of your oxygen recedes. It’s difficult and claustrophobic to play, so it may be surprising that Capsule comes from Adam Saltsman, who is best known for two of the most intuitive games in iOS, Canabalt and Hundreds. Despite his background, he was Capsulethe enigmatic and stimulating nature that interested him in the project. “I have this kind of nihilistic / sublime fantasy going on of waking up in a completely foreign and eminently hostile place, and having to overcome it from some sort of zero position,” said Saltsman. The edge.

You will spend most of your time trying not to die

The game has at least one thing in common with its previous work, however, in that it is extremely minimalist. All you need to play are the arrow keys to control your direction and thrust, and the space bar to send a push to help you figure out what’s around you. This is extremely important because your capsule is left for exploration without supplies. To survive, you will need to find air pockets and ion vents to replenish your oxygen and power levels. This turns what is essentially a very straightforward game into an incredibly tense experience, as you will often find yourself frantically searching for air in order to keep going. When your electricity runs out, you are forced to sit down and wait until you suffocate. There is something of a story in Capsule, with an ending, which you’ll discover by finding stations to dock with, but you’ll spend most of your time trying not to die.

The uncomfortable nature of Capsule is due in large part to its sound design. Beeps and bloops as you navigate the world make it feel like you’re working on an old computer terminal, but more importantly, the uncomfortable sound of someone struggling to breathe as you run out of oxygen is almost enough to cause panic. Sounds come out of courtesy Robin arnott, the designer of the terrifying sound-based game Deep sea, who previously worked with Saltsman on Old Spice’s Weird Dikembe Mutombo’s 4 1/2 weeks to save the world advertising campaign. Saltsman thinks the sound is perhaps the most important part of the experience. “I’ve worked really hard to make the graphics look nice and sparse and minimal, but also a little dirty, and the way the history and generation of the world works is all I’m proud of,” he explains. he, “but like, the moment-to-moment emotions that you feel are easily 70% Robin’s work and maybe 30% mine.”

“You claim your bedroom and your laptop are that damaged escape pod.”

Capsule is now available on Windows and Mac for $ 8. Saltsman acknowledges that this is definitely not a game for everyone, but in the end he just built a game he wanted to play and hopes that there are people out there who are looking for the same kind of experience as him. . He describes it as a role-playing game of “Desperate Astronaut … where you pretend your room and your laptop is that damaged escape pod because it’s sort of the only option the game gives you. .

“We’re probably not that many,” he admits, “but the few of us who really like it, we really dig it. “


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