VideoVideo: Why you should be playing Rymdkapsel

Missed it on Vita and mobile? Then play the new PC and Mac version!

Rymdkapsel's a thing of real beauty. It's a slight beauty - there's a strong minimalism running throughout developer Grapefrukt's aesthetic and design - but it's more than enough to create one of the most compelling strands of strategy available on mobile and Vita.

Rymdkapsel review

Rymdkapsel review

Simply brilliant.

Grapefrukt's Rymdkapsel, a real-time strategy game about building a space station, goes out of its way not to go out of its way. There is no story; no explanation for the hostile red ships that swarm your matrix of corridors and rooms in periodic waves of escalating threat, nor for the monoliths in all four corners of the play area that you're asked to research. Even the name, which means "space capsule" in Swedish, is left unexplained. Developer Martin Jonasson wanted to create a strategy game that was neither fiddly nor stressful, and his solution was elegant minimalism.

The set-up is cut to a single unit type - a little rectangular minion - and just over a handful of rooms to build. There are three resource types to gently consider - building blocks, particles and food - but you don't handle very much directly. Instead you prioritise activities by dragging and dropping between task types like "construction" and "research" on the lower edge of the screen, after which the minions in your station hop to it as though you've just issued a command. And they have one speed, whether they're carrying particles to build a new reactor or scurrying to a weapons room to repel hostile forces with tiny laser guns.

Having stripped the strategy down to almost nothing, Jonasson builds it back up by other means, most notably by forcing you to lay things out in a sequence of Tetris shapes, predicted by a little queue of outlines in the top-left of the screen. Whether your next room is a kitchen or a garden, it's going to be a 2x2 square, and the one after that will be a T, and the one after that will be an L, and so on. As enemy waves start to arrive more thickly and frequently, the challenge comes from finding a clean and simple way to design your space station so your minions have enough time to get things done between mopping up threats, and don't get caught in the open.

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