rymdkapsel

App review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
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Terrific strategy game does a lot with very little.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn and practice with strategic thinking and object placement. By scattering resources throughout the base, players waste valuable time and put themselves at risk. This isn't obvious at the game's outset, so some trial and error is involved to master the levels; players may have to start over once or twice. Once they get it, rymdkapsel will show kids that assessing a situation before acting is beneficial in achieving success.

Ease of Play

For the game to last more than an hour or so will require some serious strategic thinking. This necessity isn't something players will immediately recognize, though, and the game's minimal instructions don't emphasize this aspect. As a result, the game will require some trial and error before you start to build skills.

Violence

Enemies attack your base fairly regularly, but they're shown as comet-like devices, and weapons-fire makes the "pew pew" sound that takes away any realism. Also, since the game is so minimalist, the violence is merely implied rather than being realistic.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that rymdkapsel is a strategy game that blends Tetris-style tactical thinking with space combat. Players build a space station using Tetris-like shapes, but they'll have to monitor their resource use as they design the station's layout. Deciding which segments to build in which order is critical, as attacks occur at regular intervals. However, the attacks lack any kind of scare factor and the violence is mild. Though the concept is simple, the game is likely too complex for younger players. High scores can be shared in Apple's Game Center social network.

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What's it about?

Players build a space station, constructing hallways and rooms to both collect and transform resources as well as defend the station from attacks. Naturally, the attacks get more difficult as the game progresses, but the overall focus never veers from strategy. Should you focus on building more workers? Should you build hallways to nearby monoliths that give upgrades? What's the best way to fit the room and corridor shapes together to get the most from each? The answers are all at the heart of the puzzle. The game is controlled by you swiping workers to different areas at the bottom of the screen, where they work on one of several tasks. Building rooms or halls is just a matter of lining up a Tetris-like shape, twisting it as necessary, and then confirming its placement.

Is it any good?

Really good strategy titles are hard to find in the app world. RYMDKAPSEL not only nails the formula, it adds enough variety to reignite some interest from lapsed fans of the genre. As an odd fusion of space opera, Tetris, and a classic strategy game, rymdkapsel is definitely best played on a tablet. The small print is almost illegible on smartphones. With a larger screen, the addictive nature of the game will quickly become obvious. 

Victory is rather open-ended, but this app is about the journey rather than the destination. Our only notable complaint is the sometimes inconsistent nature of the AI, which doesn't always make the wisest choices. It's the only part of the game that isn't intuitive. Otherwise, the game's balance is just right. Rather than focusing on joyless micromanagement, rymdkapsel lets players keep an eye on the bigger picture, which is what makes strategy games so fun in the first place.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Encourage them to play other strategy games such as chess.

  • Discuss the importance of planning before acting, not just in the world of games.

App details

For kids who love strategy

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