This soothing space-age strategy game is the anti–Flappy Bird

Rather than continuing to bang my head (or my iPad) against the wall, why not play something that could help me relax instead?

Internet Culture

Published Feb 10, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 6:49 pm CDT

BY YANNICK LEJACQ

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last few weeks wallowing in the hellhole that is Flappy Bird, the invigoratingly difficult mobile game that seems driven to make everyone who plays it feel like a failure. I was one of the people that actually enjoyed Flappy Bird, but after struggling with the game for more than a week and barely cracking the 10-point mark, I decided it was time for a break. Rather than continuing to bang my head (or my iPad) against the wall, why not play something that could help me relax instead?

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It didn’t take me long to find such a game in Rymdkapsel, which is Swedish for “space capsule.” The game was an low-level mobile hit when it first arrived in late 2013, never exactly reaching the audience levels of Candy Crush Saga or Plants vs. Zombies 2 but still winning strong praise from the kinds of critics who are hungry for more artistic flair from indie developers. It launched anew last week on Steam, the popular PC gaming platform, and the transition to mouse-and-keyboard controls was surprisingly graceful for a game that seemed perfectly designed for the touchscreen.

Rymdkapsel owes a lot to “real time strategy,” a genre of games that combine the intensely granular resource-management tasks of a board game like Settlers of Catan with all the added dynamism and challenge of facing off against opponents in real time. A fan of the game StarCraft,one of the mainstays of the genre, once explained it to me by saying the game combines the “intensity and speed of boxing” with “the raw skill of chess.”

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If that sounds stressful, it is. The best StarCraft players have to be able to move their fingers around the keyboard with such blinding speed that people have begun to track their actions per minute, or APM, and posting them online to demonstrate their technical prowess. As the genre continues to evolve, the most popular games are continuously refined to support this kind of frenetic yet still somehow agile gameplay.

What I love about a game like Rymdkapsel is that its developer Martin Jonasson recognized that genre conventions are just that: conventions. They’re artificial boundaries meant to be tested, even broken.

Read the full story on Motherboard. 

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*First Published: Feb 10, 2014, 10:00 am CST