Rymdkapsel is an intriguing project done by grapefrukt games, a one-man-gang of development comprised of Martin Jonasson, along with Niklas Strom’s musical contributions. Jonasson’s works are primarily known for their beautiful, bare-essential aesthetics mixing with an outside of the box approach to their gameplay development. Jonasson is also known for his Jesus vs. Dinosaurs fighter (it’s not what you think, but we highly suggest checking out Jonasson’s previous work). In Rymdkapsel, the abstract developer encourages us to settle and explore deep space by constructing and expanding a giant space station. Is Rymdkapsel the Picasso Deep Space Nine, or should we steer clear around it using maximum warp?
Before even diving into Rymdkapsel, I was absolutely memorized by its graphics. Pictures and YouTube clips do not do this game justice. It seems like a modern evolution of the Atari 2600 as it plays. For players old enough to remember how the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision’s games looked, you are in for a treat if you play Rymdkapsel. But with all pleasantries and nostalgia aside, how does it actually play?
Well, Rymdkapsel plays like one of the greatest iOS titles I have ever had the luxury to review. Its graphics are done in such a minimal way, that everything is believable and just beautiful to witness. I haven’t been so impressed by such colorful, but simplistic, graphics since I played Lumines for the first time.
You control the workers of a space station who must reach mythical monoliths scattered throughout deep space. In order to reach said monoliths, your space team must expand and build your station in a manner similar to the original Warcraft’s road mechanic. You must build corridors so that all your workers can travel from place to place and do their necessary jobs. As a result, every structure and room you will build must be directly connected to a corridor. These structures are randomly oriented in the shape of all the traditional Tetris pieces: from the square, Z shape and even L shaped blocks. Each time you build a room, the next room’s shape will change, so every room looks quite different; you are only able to tell which room is which based on their color, and the text that appears when you tap them.
Like all strategy games, there are resources you must account for as you expand your space station. New rooms and structures require materials, and your crew must be fed. You must actually build gardens, which spawn “sludge” (I’m guessing that plants still have trouble growing in space), and have a kitchen to process the sludge into food. That’s not all, you must have a crew member allocated to food service so that he will pick up sludge at the garden, bring it to the kitchen, and deliver it to the crew quarters (where more crew members will spawn once you get enough food).
On top of trying to amount a decent crew to run your ever-expanding space station, you must be ready for invading ships which will gun down your crew unless you have weapons rooms set up (the blue boxes on the screenshots), which house weapons for your crew to fight back with. On the bottom of your screen is a bar which will continuously fill up over time, and once it’s full, an attack is imminent. It is your job to switch your crew members from whatever task they were on (engineering, food service, construction or research), to defense. You will see them drop what they are doing and proceed to the nearest weapons room where they will arm themselves and wait.
I cannot stress this enough, watching your crew members carrying out your commands, in what I can only describe as Lemmings for the Atari 2600 brought to the modern age, is absolutely fantastic. It makes you plan ahead as to where you will put each room, so that your crew doesn’t have to trek the entire length of the station in order to accomplish simple tasks.
I must call attention to Strom’s excellent soundtrack. Rymdkapsel’s background music is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s synthetic soundtracks of the ’80s mixed with just enough mystery in its tone to remind you that you are out in deep space. And Rymdkapsel’s sound effects reflect the futuristic/retro look of the graphics.
There is almost nothing bad I can say about Rymdkapsel. Everything is simple, minimal and cut down. I can hardly think of how the game would function if one of the room-types were removed for the sake of implementing something else. My major complaint is that sometimes the A.I. of the crew members would be off and I would see them travelling to far areas of the station for resources that are right by them in a different direction. I wish that there was some way to allocate or focus crew members to specific areas of the ship, or some sort of patch that will address this issue. Perhaps some more information about the structures could be added for the sake of making the gameplay smoother for newcomers. Mainly, I simply wish that there was more in it. But for only a $4 price tag, there is almost nothing that hinders me from recommending Rymdkapsel to all puzzle and strategy enthusiasts.