Developed by Valentin Pomeshkin and published by Sometimes You, Pnevmo-Capsula explores a utopian atompunk world in a Soviet-like environment through the lens of a telegram capsule en-route to delivery.
Throughout my playthrough, it was clear that Valentin Pomeshkin has poured out hours of work and passion into giving life to the environment players experience. This includes complex puzzles with solutions that require interpretation of and interaction with the environment around the capsule. I played Pnevmo-Capsula on the Switch, but it is also available on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox.
Pnevmo-Capsula – Telegram on rails!
Explore a world full of detail and intrigue to guide your telegram capsule through an interconnected rail system to your guided destination. Pnevmo-Capsula’s main puzzle element are the mechanical telegram boxes that request a destination code to correctly guide your message in a tube. The fun twist is that the codes are only obtained through keen observation of your environment, such as interacting with levers to reveal hidden locations and information. Excitingly, Pnevmo-Capsula’s world building elements go beyond the necessary information for the puzzles, so watch out for the red herrings!
Input the right code into these mechanical telegram boxes to reach your destination
Pnevmo-Capsula plays out in a linear rail experience. While there are twists and turns on the track, the game is a guided experience that lets you explore the intricate details of each puzzle stop – like a tour bus you might see in holiday destinations!
You begin in an electrical control room and by moving your capsule up the rail system, you encounter electric activation gates that you can interact with, which in turn move the rails to allow you to continue in your journey. Most puzzles in the game are solved by a combination of sequenced electric rail activation and numerical code inputs on the telegram boxes. This creates for interesting combinations where information for obtaining the code is only revealed once the correct electric interactions are made. However, due to the linear limitation of the rail system, some puzzles become a bit repetitive after solving a few similar puzzle scenarios. Therefore, Pnevmo-Capsula could benefit from more varied puzzle design, and the addition of a couple more puzzle elements that could be introduced gradually.
One of the many detailed puzzle rooms
The controls are simple. With the joystick, or directional buttons, you move the capsule up and down the rails, while using Y to speed up. Meanwhile, pressing A allows you to use the capsule’s electric activation system, which is necessary to interact with the environment. As per design, the capsule can fall of the rails and get reset to the last save point, usually placed at the start of a puzzle. Helpfully, the game saves your puzzle progress, but the location of the save can be a bit far away, which makes for occasional tedious trips after an unpredictable fall from the rails. This is aggravated in sections where the quick and abrupt movement of the capsule sends you flying off rails which end shorter than they seem to end – these punishing falls feel like they are caused by glitches as opposed to player input.
Graphics & Audio
The core draw to Pnevmo-Capsula is the interesting environment that is full of detail and intrigue. Both on my docked Switch with my TV and on the Switch handheld screen, I was able to appreciate the game’s built environment, full of interesting details. For most of the game, the needed information was clearly presented in an interesting manner. However, there was one puzzle section where the forced camera zoomed out so much that I could not see where the capsule was within the rail, which is a bit of an issue given the capsule is needed to activate gates!
Beautiful scenery, but let’s play a game of spot the capsule! I lost! It is somewhere along the top rail!
The different locations in the game have varied ambient sounds and the mechanical movements are rewarded with matching sound-effects. While the game could be played with no sound at all, the sound adds to the immersion in the abandoned atompunk world presented.
An important note, the game comes with a photosensitive seizure warning, so please consider this if you would like to play this game.
The game can be completed within a couple hours – it took me the better part of an afternoon. It is divided into eight independent chapters that follow on from each other. A lot of the gameplay time is spent trying to uncover information hidden in the well-decorated environment or travelling along the rail system. Like many other puzzle games, there is little replay value on this game. Nevertheless, Pnevmo-Capsula offers a lovely, foreign and intriguing environment to solve and explore over the course of an evening.
Pnevmo-Capsula is filled with flair and detail
Pnevmo-Capsula is a short and intriguing puzzle adventure that can fill your evening with a fun atompunk experience. A lot of love and care has clearly been dedicated into building an immersive environment that is full of secrets and hidden curiosities. The core gameplay surrounds a telegram capsule you guide through a system of rails, interacting with electrical activators and mechanical telegram boxes.
While there is little longevity to the game and some puzzles become repetitive, Pnevmo-Capsula provides entertainment and detailed puzzles that will keep you busy and scratching your head for a good couple of hours. All-in-all, I give it the Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.