Saturday , June 15 2024

‘Capes’ Review: A Stylish Superhero Tactical Experience

Capes is billed as an XCOM-inspired turn-based superhero strategy game and it certainly delivers on that promise while delivering some nice tweaks to the genre. It is by no means perfect, but put some time into it and Capes will keep you coming back for just one more turn.

A Grizzled Relic

The game is centered around the fictional King City, where superpowered individuals, or Capes, have become rare due to the all-encompassing Company gathering them up for nefarious reasons. A grizzled relic from bygone days, Doctrine, starts gathering new superpowered would-be heroes to push back at the Company and free any Supers along the way.

Doctrine channels a ton of Billy Butcher energy from the series The Boys and essentially has the same motivations: shut down the powerful corporation and gather allies along the way.

Heroes Gather

The first few heroes encountered are Rebound, Facet and Mindfire, who all have radically different powers and show the mechanics of Capes in action during the first few missions. Rebound can teleport and backstab (think Nightcrawler), Facet can armor himself (and others) similar to a Colossus character, and Mindfire has telekinetic and telepathic abilities much like Jean Grey.

Those similarities to classic X-Men characters pretty much end there. These are fleshed out and fully voiced characters who have different motivations for working with Doctrine. As more Supers are rescued or recruited along the way the roster deepens and the team starts to interact and even help with boosts in combat.

Tactical Game

The systems in the tactical game are quite interesting with tweaks to each mission adding interesting variables. When the heroes join a zone the initial enemies are in place and sometimes can be surprised or taken on directly.

Unlike in some other tactical games, actions and attacks always hit, and the game will tell you how much damage will be caused, so planning is key. When close to other characters, some attacks can be augmented, so placement and movement plays a big part as well.

Mix of Characters is Key

The mix of characters is key and can sometimes make missions much harder if a certain character is not present. One scenario revolved around protecting hostages and I initially did not pick Facet for the mission and ended up restarting as he made the scenario much more achievable.

With him and Mindfire on the team I could armor up Facet, use his skill to create barriers and do a team-up skill with Mindfire to taunt multiple enemies into attacking Facet. This allowed me to draw attacks to his resistant shell and divert from the hostages. Without him I always lost one or two and that skewed the mission rewards.

This is key, as all missions have bonus objectives that add SP points which fuel special ability enhancements. The more SP I could gather each round the stronger was my team for future missions.

A Slight Flaw

This distinctness of characters is a slight flaw in the mechanics as it is nearly impossible to know how useful a character will be mission to mission, and generally if you choose wrong a full restart is needed, which can be annoying. Other slight flaws are overpowered characters like Weathervane who can inflict chain lightning on many clumped targets. I literally added him to every single mission once he was unlocked.

Outside of combat there are chances to review missions, have dialogue with other members of the group, and even replay missions to get the bonus objectives. Sadly there are no options to upgrade or customize the team’s headquarters, which was always my favorite part of XCOM.

Lots of Charm

Capes has a lot of charm and some interesting systems and while its animation systems and overall look and feel are a bit lacking it holds up fine thanks to the great gameplay. The fully voiced characters and the mix of genuinely interesting and cringy (yet funny) dialogue help elevate the overall experience.

Taken as a whole Capes delivers a fun experience that is rough around the edges. It does not have the polish and depth of a game like Freedom Force (an obvious inspiration) but the characters, gameplay and world make the game well worth checking out.

We were given a Steam code for Capes from the publisher for review purposes. Capes is available right now for PC via Steam as well as Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox platforms.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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