Capes Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

In a dark, futuristic world, being a superhero has been outlawed. Not by the government, but by the only force in King City that matters – The Company. Capes takes the turn-based strategy genre and gives it a comic book feel, putting you in the control of a fledgling group of superheroes trying to dish out justice in a city where justice doesn’t exist. While some of its visuals lack a bit of polish, the actual gameplay in Capes is heroic enough to make up for it.

If you throw The Boys and Watchmen into a blender with XCOM 2, what you’d be left with would be Capes. Developer Spitfire Interactive knew exactly the tone it was going for and stuck with it. You start with two superheroes and a grizzled veteran calling the shots from a bunker and slowly assemble a team capable of freeing King City from the grip of The Company, which is so evil it doesn’t need a proper name.

Capes Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The story is never revolutionary nor is it bad or predictable. It feels like a serviceable comic book plot that never tries to challenge convention but still doesn’t feel lazy. The writers clearly know the tropes they’re using and how they work well enough that everything feels more like a homage than a parody.

There are lots of small details that make Capes feel like an interactive comic book. The speech bubbles, for example, are a great touch that unfortunately become necessary due to some sound balancing issues in certain scenes. We love the game’s willingness to lean into comic book tropes – there are twists in the plot that you’ll see coming but they fit the world the developers built. There are plenty of references to classic comic books sprinkled in to keep you paying attention to the small details of each character's design.

Not that the presentation always works, however. The visuals overall are extremely dated. Characters in the rendered cutscenes have almost no expression and limited movement, leaving a lot of the emoting to a group of enthusiastic but inconsistent voice actors. The 2D visuals look better but they all do the awkward sway that mobile games use to make it feel like characters are animated when they’re really not. The visual issues can make it difficult to tell exactly where your cursor is or to figure out exactly why a specific power won’t land.

Capes Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Where Capes does succeed is in the gameplay. Each hero has powers that deal damage or protect their allies. Each one functions just differently enough that they never feel repetitive but aren’t so unique that you don’t know what to do with them. Because there is no hit-or-miss chance – every attack hits and deals a specified amount of damage – understanding those powers and using them effectively is the key to winning the numerous missions your superhero team gets sent on.

Not only are the heroes’ powers unique, but they have an ultimate that can deal massive damage or completely lock down a map if used correctly. There is a wonderful balance with the ultimate moves that we really appreciated. Some are quicker to charge but do less damage. Others are slower to charge but far more useful. Neither is inherently better than the other – it just depends on how you build your team.

Our favorite thing about Capes' battle system is the use of Team Up attacks. Certain characters can help each other during a mission, boosting the power or range of an attack or giving them greater mobility. Facet, the crystal-wearing tank of the party, really shines in this regard. Few of his attacks deal a lot of damage but he generally boosts the damage of teammates nearby. It makes positioning not just of enemies but of other heroes vital to your strategy.

Capes Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

While you initially start with just a few heroes, you’ll quickly gain a whole roster of characters and will have to spend a bit of time between missions leveling them up or unlocking skills. Levels can be earned by taking heroes on missions and earning XP while completing optional objectives can earn you SP to upgrade your heroes. Some of the optional objectives will be out of your reach when you first attempt them and you’ll have to go back and try again when your team is more powerful.

Due to the lack of RNG altering your plans, missions feel more like a puzzle with a specific solution than unpredictable battlefields. This might not be to everyone’s taste, but we found it less frustrating than when our best-laid plans fell apart because the game’s dice roller worked against us. This isn’t to say that every mission is easy – there is a difficulty spike early in Act I that had us nearly throwing our controller until we figured out the right tactic. However, even when we failed, it always felt like victory was obtainable if we just made a few different decisions, which is exactly the kind of challenge level we like to see in a strategy game.

Capes Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Capes isn’t going to win any awards for its visuals, but its gameplay more than makes up for a dated appearance. It rewards careful planning and clever usage of powers while the selection of Team Up powers gives the characters synergy that makes them feel like a group that has worked together before. It isn’t the best strategy game on the Switch but it is definitely worth picking up.

Conclusion

Despite some visual shortfalls, Capes is a very solid turn-based strategy game that takes the best bits of XCOM 2 and gives it the superhero treatment. The tactical gameplay will have you thinking of the best way to position your growing roster of heroes on each turn to help you save King City from the nefarious Company. Even a predictable plot doesn't undermine how well-balanced and fun Capes is to play. Strategy and comic book fans will find plenty to enjoy here.