Some games nearly make me miss my train stop. Some games tempt me to keep on playing them while I'm walking down the street. This is one of them.
It's Rymdkapsel, and it's the minimalist real-time-strategy game with a Tetris twist. It's downloadable and out for PlayStation Mobile platforms now. It's brought my PlayStation Vita back into rotation. The developers call it "meditative space strategy". Sure. Though I think I was hypnotized. Can't stop playing!
Got five minutes? And five bucks?
You'll need those minutes to see why the game has displaced my 3DS this week as my go-to portable gaming platform.
You'll need that much money to buy the game.
I was predisposed to liking this game, because I'm a fan of minimalist games. I like games that take a familiar genre and strip it (back) down to the fewest visual elements needed to convey the interactions of its system. These games eschew the sprites and models that trick our eyes into thinking we're looking at little tanks or fighter planes or whatever. Instead, we play with symbols, with more abstract visual metaphors that may stand in for spacemen and bases but allow the gameplay to come to the fore. These games show how little we actually need to see to play a game; they make other games seem needlessly baroque or overly garnished. The excellent minimalist racing game Artstyle: Light Trax on the Wii (and the Japan-only Dotstream on the Game Boy Advance before it) did the same thing:
Keep it simple. Let the gameplay be the star. I'm a fan.
Genre: real-time spacebase-building strategy game plus Tetris Developer: Grapefruky (Martin Jonasson) with music by Niklas Ström Platform: PlayStation Mobile devices (including PS Vita) with iOS to follow Price: $4.99