Rymdkapsel iOS & Android Preview
Playing Martin Jonasson's Rymdkapsel at this year's Rezzed PC and indie gaming show was an immediately arresting experience. It doesn't look like other mobile games, and it certainly doesn't play like other mobile games either. It's a hypnotizing and minimalist blend of resource and puzzle block management mechanics, with a sprinkling of base defense on top.
"I call it a meditative space strategy game," explains Jonasson. "You're tasked with building a space station from these Tetris-like blocks - tetrominoes is the word - and it's very minimalistic. The way I made the game, I just took out as much stuff as I possibly could, and what's left is called Rymdkapsel. It's like a strategy game in a way, but I wouldn't say it's small - it's minimalist.
"After a little bit you discover these monoliths, and you're mission is to get to them and research them. Then the enemies start attacking you, and your second mission is to last as long as possible. There's just the one level in the game, but it's a really good one. I reckon you can play it for at least a couple of hours. It's not a huge game, but it's also a mobile game and I'm really proud of that one level."
The controls for Rymdkapsel are as simple and elegant as the minimalist world design. New building projects are dragged from the upper screen onto the play area, and a second-finger tap allows you to rotate each tetromino building before committing it to a position.
Just as crisp as the building management is the method for moving your minions. Workers are assigned their function with a swipe beneath the playing grid, and each flick between categories sends an individual minion scurrying off towards that new assignment. It works well on the Vita version on show, but Jonasson is promising an even better experience on tablets.
"It was originally made for the iPad, and then Sony approached me and said 'Hey you should put it on our thing'," he explains. "Then I finished it for Vita, and it's now coming home! It's really the best way to play it on tablet. Everything's bigger."
The content of Rymdkapsel plays out across a single level, and it's a large but limited amount of space to slot this satisfying flood of tetromino shapes into. Unsurprisingly, early feedback from Vita gamers has largely centered around a hunger for more level types, and a variety of additional challenges. The App Store crowd can be even more demanding when it comes to a return on investment, so can we expect more content from the mobile version in time?
"People are asking for more levels. I made it one level on purpose, and put everything in there. It's hard making a minimalistic game. I could easily put more stuff in there, but then it wouldn't be minimilast anymore. It's hard taking stuff out too, but there's a reason - I'm one guy!
"I'm considering doing some kind of expansion. I did the Vita launch a month ago, and I'm doing it for Ouya inbetween - I wouldn't recommend doing that! And that's launching in four days. I really don't have time being here! There'll be the iOS and Android port, and then...."
"Yeah! Rest a while then come back."
Jonasson has yet to pin down a precise release date for the mobile edition of Rymdkapsel but he hopes to get it in gamers' hands within the next month or so.
"Sometime in July - probaly late July," he explains. "I'm scrambling like a madman to get it done. It's been running on iOS and Android pretty much the whole time and I wanted it to work on everything."