Captain Kaon hearkens back to a genre that has gone overlooked for the longest time. Gravity shooters or ‘cave-flyers’ such as Gravity Force 2 and Crazy Gravity had a lot of playtime in my earlier years, but in this outing developer Engage Pixel (a one-man band by the name of James Buckle) has added something of a twist to the formula by adding in the mechanics of a twin stick shooter.
From the get go, it's clear to see where the visual inspiration for this game has come from with it's bright pixel art graphic style that looks like it's come directly from the graphics chip of the Amiga. For a game like this, it's an aesthetic that fits well and incorporates some modern twists in the way of particle physics and bullet trails. I had a minor gripe with the green text on the green grid background at first, but the developer has since been back to the title and fixed that up from when I first started playing.
The bit I struggled with most was getting used to the twin-stick nature of the game. My mind has been so conditioned to the nature of gravity shooters that it took a little while to grasp the idea that I could be shooting in one direction whilst moving in another. This lead to frequent moments at the start of playing where I'd be bouncing off walls non stop as my brain was expecting the craft to go in the direction that the bullets were firing. Moving to using a controller alleviated that experience (except for my bad piloting) - primarily because I'd not experienced gravity shooters on a controller with analogue sticks.
The game has the audible bleeps, bloops and explosions you'd expect, from a game set in space, and a soundtrack that accurately conveys the bleak outlook of sending yourself head-first into the firing line to complete your missions. It gets a bit same-y after a while, but never enough to be annoying.
For me though, Buckle's dedication to his game is first rate. Taking on board criticism of Captain Kaon with level-headed answers and making note of the issues people are facing with a view to making the best game he can. It's a refreshing view on the usual shit show we hear of, where developers delete threads and ban any user who dares mention any negative aspect - and for that Buckle deserves all the success he can get.
You can grab Captain Kaon now on Steam for £4.99, which is set to raise when the Early Access period finishes.