Pnevmo-Capsula: Domiki (Xbox One) Review with stream
Truly a unique game, something you have never played before so hard to compare it to anything
Intriguing Steam-Punk backdrop with entrancing musical score
Low cost makes it easy to recommend for such an experimental game
Touchy controls make accidental button presses easy
The “input the correct code by looking at that obscure cypher on the wall” puzzles are way too obtuse
Sometimes the auto-cam doesn’t cooperate and can fall off ledge you didn’t know was there
Pnevmo-Capsula: Domiki is a literal on-rails puzzle game about controlling an electric toy train. It is unlike anything I’ve ever played so there is really nothing in which to compare.
So what is this unique, experimental game? With no story, complete lack of background context, and no indication on what to do, the player can only move in one direction. Controlling a capsule in a steampunk alternative 70s Russian backdrop, getting through each puzzle to move onto the next is the name of the game. I guess if I had to compare it to anything I would go with Limbo. Although the overall tone and visual appearance is vastly different, the puzzle solving aspect is similar. You’ll move forward, be presented with a puzzle, and you’ll need to solve it using only the clues and elements immediately around you without backtracking or gaining new abilities. Once that puzzle is finished, you’ll move onto the next until the credits roll.
There are only two input devices – move and charge. Holding down the “A” button causes your little train to emit a shock of electricity which is used to power devices, move track switches, and ultimately reach new areas. It might sound a little silly and even boring, but it is put firmly into practice to create a trial-and-error environmental puzzling experience.
Visually, the game can be quite striking especially in moments when the camera pans to reveal a far background. The soundtrack is just as haunting which is rather staggering considering this downloadable title’s low asking price.
The gameplay is purposely restrictive, as the player is limited to the path of the rails and the camera cannot be adjusted, but that doesn’t mean the quest is easy. In fact, quite the opposite. Some puzzles are annoyingly obtuse, and the player will need to decipher cryptic text written in Russian in the background. If you watch my stream embedded in this article, I got stuck on one of the first puzzles that game throws at you and needed to pause the stream to look up the answer. After cheating by watching a YouTube playthrough, I still had no clue how the number combination was determined. Unfortunately, the next puzzle was basically the same thing – try to make sense of these weird numbers in the background. Personally, I hate these types of puzzles as it slows down the gameplay and makes this shorter campaign seem much more drawn out.
In addition to some tediously designed puzzles, some aspects of the controls also annoy. Entering the numbers from the dial wheel, for example, is much too touchy. Even accessing the menu when the control shifts away from the vehicle often doesn’t make sense either. Why do you have to hold “A” to exit? Why do you have to hit left to access the panel above the cursor? These little, poorly designed menu choices do not do the tedious puzzles any additional favors.
Even with some nitpicky quality of life issues, Pnevmo-Capsula is still an intriguing and perplexing game, one that is still firmly recommended. I mean, it is an environmental puzzle game about guiding an electric train car from Point A to Point B. It is so weird, and the presentation values are much higher than they should be. Sure, many puzzles can leave you on the verge of rage quitting but that is where an online guide comes into play. If you want to experience something different, this is one of the best bets you can make.
Also Play: Voyage
Better Than: some walking simulators
Don’t Forget About: White Shadows
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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