‘Capes’ preview: ‘The Boys’ meets ‘XCOM’ in a suped-up strategy

Dismantle an evil mega-corp in Spitfire Interactive's comic book caper

Capes, a turn-based strategy about a gang of superheroes taking on an evil megacorp, is the latest to re-examine the role of superheroes in our capitalist hellscape. It’s a subject that’s been famously tackled by The Boys – even Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima wanted to give it a shot – but for now it’s in the hands of Spitfire Interactive, a new studio founded by the developers behind Hand Of Fate.

Unlike The Boys, Capes asks how superheroes could still be a force for good. Set in a dystopian city where those who exhibit signs of super-powers are abducted by the villainous Company, players are tasked with forming a rag-tag bunch of supes and dismantling the megacorp’s nefarious schemes.

In your first mission, you’re sent to rescue someone with super-powers before The Company can get to them. Unfortunately, you arrive minutes late, and there’s a street full of armed suits to wade through before you can knock on your target’s front door. The mission starts off with two superheroes under your control: Facet, a hulking man that can crystalise things and punch hard; and Rebound – a knife-wielding teleporter that works best when she’s stabbing things from behind.

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Capes. Credit: Spitfire Interactive.
Capes. Credit: Spitfire Interactive.

As the duo got to work on the closest Company agents, Capes introduced a disarm feature: if an enemy is armed, certain abilities can knock the weapon out of their hands. A bar beneath their health shows how much ‘disarm damage’ it will take to do so: a lower-ranked Company agent might only take one punt to knock their truncheon aside, but capable private military contractors found later in the demo took several attacks to let go of their guns. It’s a brilliant feature, and disarming tougher enemies felt essential due to how squishy some of your superheroes can get.

Soon, Capes‘ opening duo fell into a brutally efficient rhythm. Facet would square up to an agent and punch them in the face, while Rebound would follow up with a teleport and stab them to death from behind. When two superheroes are close enough, they can team up to give each other a taste of their powers – meaning when the Company sent reinforcements, Facet was able to teleport across and get to work pummelling them.

Capes. Credit: Spitfire Interactive.
Capes. Credit: Spitfire Interactive.

Capes introduces several types of superhero during its demo, including the very powerful telepath you end up rescuing in that level. With each hero having their own set of powers, they all feel incredibly unique to play, and a management layer between missions offers some ways to upgrade their abilities to your liking.

However, Capes wouldn’t be a good superhero story without some equally super villains, and they’re introduced a few missions later. As three enemy supes jumped into the fray from a helicopter, our gang – shown to be a disorganised, ragtag bunch – fell to pieces in the face of an organised team of killers. The difficulty spike felt justified story-wise, but it was still a very jarring challenge that ended up requiring a level restart. Throughout the demo, it could also be difficult to see who was in range for an attack, and likewise certain features like stealth takedowns weren’t explained.

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While it could benefit from offering a few more tutorial pop-ups, Capes‘ turn-based caper treads refreshing new ground for tile-based strategies. With a compelling superhero underdog story added to the mix, Spitfire Interactive’s upcoming title seems set to fly high when it launches in 2023.

While a specific release date is yet to be announced, Capes is planned to launch in 2023 – you can check it out on Steam

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