Capes Review

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I’m not the world’s biggest comic book fan, mostly as it feels like reading comic books these days is kind of cool. I’ve never been cool in my life; it’s probably too late to start now. 

Instead my knowledge about the superhero genre comes straight out of movies. But luckily Capes doesn’t require a deep understanding of the Marvel or DC Universe lore, and it’s that which makes this more appealing. From Daedalic Entertainment and Spitfire Interactive, this is a turn-based tactics kind of game, lifting my interest even more with the promise of “XCom with superheroes”. So, come with me to King City and let’s see what is kicking off…

Capes review 1
A tale of the Supers

A good superhero game needs a good story, and luckily things here look pretty cool. Twenty years ago the super villains won, and the super heroes, known as Capes, were wiped out. In the aftermath of this event, The Company (imaginative name, I know, but it does have major creepy overtones, which is perfectly fitting) loom over the city; anyone who even thinks about developing super powers is quickly captured and taken away by The Company, often with much violence. Working on the good guys’ side is a Cape called Doctrine, and he is recruiting a little gang to try to bring back the heyday of the Capes. 

The game opens as we are sent on our first mission for Doctrine, and from there, the story rapidly spirals. I’m not going to spoil it here, but the narrative within is pretty gripping, putting me in mind of the Watchmen movie

Presentation wise, Capes is pretty much a story of two halves. We have the exposition side, which is told in the form of graphic novel looking cutscenes, all fully voiced, and then we have the side of the game which is pretty much the exact same as every other tactics game ever released. The voice acting for the cutscenes is all jolly decent, but the subtitles that go along with them annoy – odd words “are” put into “speech” marks in the written version of the script, but the voice actors put no “emphasis” on the words in the quotes, and this makes me irrationally cross. 

Other than that, the art style and design of the Capes and enemies is all very good. The actual game screen is viewed from a top three quarters perspective, as per usual, and while everything here works well, the camera is a little tricky to get into position so you can actually see what is going on, which is a bit of a black mark. However, the powers that you can use look great in action, and so it’s a case of swings and roundabouts – some good bits, so not so good, but overall it works. 

Capes review 2
Usual tactics type stuff

But what about the actual gameplay, I hear you shout? Well, if you have played any tactics game ever, you’ll know what is going on here. Our heroes (of which we can have multiple) can move a set number of spaces, depicted by a grid. Then they can perform up to two actions. In a nice touch, you can perform those actions before moving if you wish, and with each Cape having their own style of play, learning to use your heroes and keeping them safe is a very steep learning curve. This game takes absolutely no prisoners – on about the fifth mission, while my guys were still fairly weak, the three of them (at that time) were tasked with taking on and defeating fifteen enemies, and for the first time ever in one of these games, I had to lower the difficulty to make it through. The difficulty is absolutely brutal – leave a Cape exposed and the game will mercilessly punish your mistake. If a Cape dies – ie if the timer runs out before you can revive them – then it is game over, try again loser… 

As we take on missions, every one comes with a list of missions that we can try to fulfil, and doing this gains vital SP. The new abilities of the team members are tied to the amount of SP you have, as well as the level of your heroes, which goes up after each mission as well. Getting new powers makes it easier to keep the team alive, as you’d expect and one of the useful early powers you can unlock allows Facet, one of the Capes, to protect any other Cape from damage for a turn, which when you are trying to keep Rebound alive (a fast but fragile backstab specialist) can be the difference between success and failure. 

You can also team your Capes up to partake in joint attacks, boosting their damage as long as they are within range. The Capes trying to perform a team up move must be within three spaces, and this is sometimes harder than it sounds. And finally, everyone has an ultimate ability that has to be charged up before it can be used – and the way to charge them is different for every Cape, so good luck. Luckily the controls are pretty intuitive, and while you can’t choose which order the Capes act in, you soon get the hang of what is needed. 

Capes review 3
Pretty accomplished but a weak hook

All in all, Capes is a pretty accomplished tactics game, and while the story keeps you playing, all as you look to see what is going to happen, the hook to drag you back afterwards is a bit weaker. It is by no manner of means a bad game, but there are better examples of the genre out there, so I guess it depends on your taste – if you like superheroes and super villains, this is an easy sell.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good story keeps you guessing
  • Combat is brutally hard, but generally fair
Cons:
  • Presentation needs “tweaking”
  • Camera is a bit wayward at times
  • Didn’t grab me as hard as I expected it to
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Daedalic Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS45, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 29 May 2024 | £32.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good story keeps you guessing</li> <li>Combat is brutally hard, but generally fair</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Presentation needs “tweaking”</li> <li>Camera is a bit wayward at times</li> <li>Didn’t grab me as hard as I expected it to</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Daedalic Entertainment</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS45, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 29 May 2024 | £32.99</li> </ul>Capes Review
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