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Capes

Capes

Spitfire Interactive takes us to a brutal superhero world in this different take on a turn-based strategy game.

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It's true, superhero fatigue is a very real issue. You can't look anywhere without coming face-to-face with something from Marvel, DC, Invincible, The Boys, or really any of the other superhero universes that are popular, and if anything, a fad these days. It's because of this that you may be either unfamiliar or less inclined to check out Spitfire Interactive's turn-based strategy game Capes, but that would be a mistake for a couple of reasons.

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For starters, Capes doesn't belong to any of these established universes. Spitfire Interactive has studied many of these more recognisable worlds to help them create the story and world in this game, but you don't need any experience with the wider world of Marvel or DC, or have to follow years of other stories and projects to be able to understand and enjoy the story served up here. It's an original tale told in an original universe, and that gives the creators a lot of room to tell their own story, one that isn't ruled and subjected to the many whims that more traditional superhero stories are.

I say this as Capes is a tale of a super resistance unit fighting back against supervillain overlords who have taken control of a city after defeating its super protectors decades ago. If anything, it almost comes across as a more authoritarian take on The Boys' story, where there are a collective good few fighting back against an evil and corrupt whole, and with this being the case, you can expect vindictive and cruel enemies, terrible odds pretty much all of the time, and a mature tone that is different to the PG stories that Marvel likes to present to its audience. I won't tell you that Capes is a completely unique and unfound story like we've never seen before, because that isn't the case, but it is refreshing to experience a tale where there are odds at stake, where it feels like the hopeful heroes could lose, and that's what Capes offers a lot of.

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The area where this game begins to really stand out among the pack is in its gameplay. Turn-based strategy isn't anything new, we've even had superhero takes on the format in Marvel's Midnight Suns, but Capes is looking to position itself from others in the genre by offering up gameplay not reliant on random numbers or percentages, and other frustrating elements that are not in the player's control. Capes is strategy, as pure as it comes. You have to position your characters, utilise them as a team, take down threats you deem most deadly first, protect your weaker members, complete side tasks and objectives, and all without utilising cover systems. The frustration of missing clear attacks isn't present in this game, but with the more approachable style of gameplay less reliant on numerical values and systems in mind, it does mean that Capes can be an absolute nightmare to beat.

As you can't put the environment to your advantage in the same way as an XCOM, and since the game loves to throw huge sums of enemies at you at once, it often feels as though there is one way to beat each mission. When you begin to try something fresh, it often feels as though the game is fundamentally built to discourage this at times, with some missions requiring you to protect AI NPCs that rush into battle with no disregard for the own wellbeing, or by asking you to defeat the usual horde of foes while at the same time stopping a supervillain capable of obliterating your entire team without breaking a sweat. You have to be clued in and have an affinity for strategy to succeed and thrive in this game, as else it will likely come across as frustrating.

So there's clear benefits and weaknesses to the strategic gameplay design that Capes has taken. I can appreciate the lack of random numerical elements, but at the same time it feels as though that has come at the cost of player freedom and agency.

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The character design is a highlight without a doubt however. Each character fits into a certain archetype with their own abilities and play styles that work with other characters for unique and more effective synergised abilities. Whether it's playing as a speedster designed to cover large portions of the battlefield and strike before zipping away, or instead taking on a bruiser role, drawing the attention of enemies and soaking up damage there are a multitude of heroes to become acquainted with, level up and improve through the rather straightforward progression suite. And you'll need to master them as when a supervillain joins the fray you'll discover just what it means to be a bug on a car's windshield, a bug whose only hope of survival is refined and near flawless teamplay.

The folk over at Spitfire Interactive have done a fantastic job with the presentation of this game too. The UI and HUD feels very refined and clear, the visuals are clear and easy to follow in combat thanks to the 3D design all while still having a comic flair with speech bubbles and comic fonts and stylings, as well as drawn elements when out of action to further emphasise the comic roots and theme of Capes. The voice acting is also top notch, the soundtrack heroic and fitting to the theme, and the animations basic enough to not overwhelm while still preserving detail.

I do think that with an undo button in combat and perhaps an adjustment and tweak to the difficulty, or perhaps the sheer number of enemies that Capes throws at you, it could be a top turn-based strategy title. As it is, with its few pitfalls, it isn't quite as refined as I would have hoped, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to love and appreciate in worldbuilding, narrative, character design, and presentation. Spitfire Interactive has taken some risks with this game, not all of them have paid off, but there's definitely still a lot of potential and promise with this game all the same.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Strategy system that doesn't rely on percentages is a highlight. Great worldbuilding. Top character design. Awesome presentation.
-
Can be frustrating to play at times due to its enemy distribution or AI behaviour.
overall score
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REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Spitfire Interactive takes us to a brutal superhero world in this different take on a turn-based strategy game.



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