[Disclosure: A review key was provided for the contents of this article]
Engage Pixel’s Captain Kaon is a single-player, retro twin-stick shooter that’s designed to be mirrored after classic 1980’s arcade games. Players will be able to battle opponents using a 360 degree aim, along with featuring art inspired by old Amiga titles. It’s supposed to be a throwback to the old-school computer shoot-’em-up titles, but it doesn’t fulfill that task in a way that’s as satisfying as it could be.
Captain Kaon’s main downfall is its controls. They are rather easy to comprehend in theory but very difficult to get to work easily without the gamepad. Yet they seem too easy at times, even with the mouse and keyboard, because the game is too forgiving rather than because the controls are easy to master. For example, it is possible to fly around terribly and not die and the shooting is not precise enough, making it a very hit-and-miss affair while playing with the pad is too fast and the other option is too slow.
A gamepad does make the game better – but not by much in the grand scheme of things. It would probably be hard to get past this fundamental flaw no matter which level of competence any given gamer had acquired before they played the game, and it must take the motivation of a winning coach and quite a bit of gaming skill combined with very little else to do in life in order to master the game.
Rarely have I seen a game so devoid of anything that makes me want to come back for more. Even if I could get past its annoyingly difficult tutorial – though at times that level is patronisingly easy –, it is doubtful that I would have the motivation to get far beyond it.
Captain Kaon is too simple in terms of its graphics, story-line and main gameplay. An extremely frustrating creation, with the option to skip its tutorial apparently leading to nowhere significant and therefore signifying a design flaw even in its menus; even Captain Kaon’s soundtrack is mind-numbingly dull and the game itself is not much better. What a pity.
At least it was an interesting concept at its beginning, and there was the seed of a good idea, in terms of both narrative and overall gameplay, which flowers enough for me to make mention of it here. It was not quite stamped out by such poor execution.