Due to the growing popularity of Marvel and DC projects, the video game industry has released several heroic tales of their own to give fans a different experience where they can save the day. And now, this genre has expanded even more with the latest comic book-styled adventure, Capes, showcasing a new lineup of diverse superheroes in a turned-based combat battle.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Hasn’t this already been done with Marvel’s Midnight Suns?” Yet, it is entirely different from the courageous journeys you’ve seen before, thanks to the game’s challenging fights, original storyline, and unique characters. Of course, it does have some similarities regarding powers and abilities, but it still holds up as a standalone by incorporating familiar hero narratives we know and love, as well as introducing a fresh take on the genre.
At the start of the demo, we immediately dive into the storyline that takes place in a dystopian city where evil reigns supreme and heroes must hide to avoid being imprisoned due to a law that bans superpowers. Based on previous stories, you can think of it as a realistic approach to Disney’s The Incredibles, given that protectors are classified as criminals. Although, I would recommend turning off the ‘Auto Continue Conversations’ during this time since it speeds through the text pretty quickly.
Players will control two characters: Rebound and Facet, along with the rescue of the third recruit, Mindfire. As a team, the primary mission is to save innocent powerful people and anyone else who has been affected by the sinister group known as the “Company.”
The first introduction of combat gameplay allows you to choose an attack and devise a plan without much of a tutorial (there will be more details later on.) But, even if it didn’t have as much guidance, I found it easy enough to grasp due to the informational explanation of each ability and the free range of choices.
At the top-right corner of the screen, you can see whose turn it is and select any character to see where they are in the area. Then, there are the character’s current status and abilities in the left-bottom corner, showcasing health, Ultimate technique, Moves, and Actions. When it is someone’s turn, they can typically move five spaces, as long as they don’t have a particular capability, and perform up to two actions that can either be offensive or defensive. For instance, you can disarm an enemy to lower their strength or unleash a series of punches to injure them.
Since everyone has individual perks, each character functions differently, giving players more chances to find the best team. In particular, Facet is classified as a Defender, so you can cast a shield on your ally or temporarily paralyze an adversary with his crystal powers. However, while the original teammates are great, the others are more versatile and stronger. That said, it increases the thrill of who you will get next and what they will bring to the table.
Out of all the characters, I enjoyed playing Mindfire, Weathervane, and Mercurial because they have a variety of attacks and were the most efficient, at least for me, in battle. What makes Mindfire an outstanding member is how he excels in long-ranged attacks and boosts the team’s abilities. Moreover, when Mindfire is not in action, he is in a wheelchair because of his condition, and it’s refreshing to see more diverse heroes added to the mix rather than the standard muscular protector.
Next, Weathervane has connected lightning strikes to take down multiple foes at a time, as well as an Ultimate with a wide vicinity. Lastly, Mercurial is excellent for larger maps since her quick-running powers give her additional movements to reach items, demonstrating that it’s not all about offensive tactics.
There are many opportunities to initiate Team Ups with these characters, which was nice to see because Marvel’s Midnight Suns did have a limitation of using a hefty amount of energy for a team-based card. For example, players can expand the area of effect with Mindfire’s Taunt or relocate an ally with Rebound’s Teleport. On top of that, whenever characters push an enemy to another hero, your teammate will also deal damage to them.
The team aspect is where Capes really stands out from the rest because other installments I’ve played before sometimes feel detached from character gameplay, where they often don’t work together. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with this game and these instances are extremely helpful with every round.
As for the enemies in Capes, they were relatively challenging to take down, especially when you have to deal with Androids, who will upgrade themselves to increase their attacks. Furthermore, the matches can last a long time because there are a considerable amount of waves that can sometimes be overwhelming. Nonetheless, players can improve with each showdown and retry the mission to think of different strategies.
Besides the gameplay aspect, the cutscene artwork and speech bubble layout make you feel like you are playing straight out of a comic book. There are also several classic one-liners that only heroes would say, with a mixture of corny dialogue that furthers the cartoony concept. One of my favorite dialogues occurs during the fight when Rebound is down and states, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” as an ode to the famous Life Alert commercials.
Some in-game scenes feature laggy performances and awkward character movements, yet we have to consider that it is a demo version. My only wishes for the full release are to implement a fast-forward option when there are a lot of enemies on the field and to add voice acting for a more personal experience. Other than that, everything else looks very promising, and I can definitely see myself getting addicted to the turned-based combat gameplay.
Compared to all the other heroic installments out there, I do believe that Capes showcases a different side with its diversified cast and unique narrative. Not only do the characters have various personalities, but they do have divergent abilities in battle as well, allowing players to strategize with each round. Furthermore, as mentioned before, it is an original storyline; therefore, if you are tired of seeing or watching the same tales from famous franchises, you can experience an all-new exciting journey.
Now that Capes is expected to release soon, there may be more indie heroic installments to come to give fans another variation of the beloved genre.