The Omni-Game: Incognito

By Alec Meer on March 9th, 2009 at 7:50 pm.

A trawl through the latest squirming haul from the RPS inbox turns up Magrathean Technologies‘ bold attempt to be all things to all PC gamers. Incognito is (deep breath) Elite meets Quake meets Battlezone meets Command & Conquer meets Mass Effect meets System Shock meets Bioshock meets Anachranox meets The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. And probably a couple of dozen others: Incognito is a very much a PC game, and one that wears its love for this old platform’s heritage on its sleeve. In other words, it’s a massively ambitious genre-blender – all the more ambitious because it’s the work of just three people.

World of Goo it isn’t, unfortunately – the presentation values (bar the always-welcome use of Bioshock/Fallout-y period jazz and swing), acting and writing are pretty unsavoury. However, you get the sense this is more interested in gaming-as-science, not gaming-as-art: its clear goal is to fuse FPS, RTS, RPG and space-sim into one fully-functional whole, leaving the spit’n'polish as very much a secondary concern. While there’s a work-in-progress feel to it throughout, its draws its disparate component parts together well and with admirable ease – planet surfaces for base-building and resource harvesting, planet orbits for trading, space stations for gentle roleplaying and man-shooting, and of course space itself for wide-open exploring. It’s a big little game.

The perennial, fundamental question: is it worth the $10 asking price? Hmm. Tricky. It depends on you – personally, I couldn’t deal with the acting and writing for very long, because I’m a horrible snob about that kind of thing. If, however, it’s a sprawling sci-fi world and a ton of variety you’re after, and in primarily a technical sense, I suspect you’ll get a lot out of Incognito. The 1.6Gb demo should help you decide. Where would videogames be without demos, eh? Also videos: videos are clever too.

See?

Oh – this is Episode 1, apparently. So it’ll be great to see what Magrathean (yes, that’s a Douglas Adams reference) build up to for the second instalment.

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33 Comments »

  1. RiptoR says:

    Graphics don’t look too appealing, but then some of the best games don’t look great. Downloading as we speak.

  2. Rhontos says:

    Graphics don’t bother me, the problem I have with these games is interface.

  3. hmrnf says:

    Elite meets Quake meets Battlezone meets Command & Conquer meets Mass Effect meets System Shock meets Bioshock meets Anachranox meets The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

    Hell yeah, no more reading necessary.
    Let’s just hope wine likes it.

  4. TheSombreroKid says:

    this looks really good

  5. Tom says:

    Looks incredible for a three man effort.
    I wanna know how it all fits together though.
    Will I be able to make a get away from potentiall fatal space station fire fight by jumping in to my space ship and hightailing it in to space?
    Or maybe evacuate a planet by entering orbit?

  6. James says:

    Nice! those sound effects are from Syndicate unless I’m much mistaken

  7. hydra9 says:

    That looks INSANE. The factories sending chemical elements up into the air reminds me of an old nightmare about being stuck inside the Periodic Table.

    (It does look like interesting, though – I will check it out.)

  8. Nico says:

    The machine gun sounds reminds me A LOT Blood 2.

  9. paneon says:

    The recommended system reqs are a bit… excessive… through. I have no major objections to 1999-vintage graphics if the gameplay is respectable, but 1999-vintage graphics that require a Core 2 Duo, 1.5GB RAM and a Geforce 7800? Excuse me?

  10. maybenexttime says:

    For some reason, the thing that I found most exciting in that video was ‘Wow, I get to play as someone left handed!’.

    The rest looks terrifying, but hopefully in a cool kind of way.

  11. Markoff Chaney says:

    89% Go Go Tubes!

  12. david says:

    If only the mix of genres didn’t include RTS :(

  13. Chis says:

    I can take or leave the RTS part of this, but the rest sounds like a fascinating mix, and the videos convinced me to nab the torrent immediately. Been waiting for a game like this for years, but only the supposedly lacklustre Parkan has approached such a design.

  14. kyrieee says:

    holy shit?
    dream game?

  15. hydra9 says:

    Yeah, this is the dream game in theory :)
    I also played Parkan II, and Space Trader, both of which fell far short of the mark. Based on what I’ve been reading in various places, it sounds like this one doesn’t quite work either, but I’m certainly going to give it a go.

  16. EyeMessiah says:

    SFX are almost certainly nicked from Syndicate Wars I think. I can hear the weapon switch voice very clearly in my mind while watching that trailer.

    “Uzi”
    “Minigun”
    “ELECTRON MACE”
    “CATACLYSM”
    “SATELLITE RAIN”

  17. DeliriumWartner says:

    Yeah, can you avoid the RTS bits? Does the game take itself seriously, or does it throw in a decent amount of self-referential humour? I did see a line in there which made me smile, simply “I like lasers…”

  18. Muzman says:

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen the Doom3 screen interface outside of Doom3. I wonder why more people don’t use it.

  19. charlie says:

    Counter-Strike always used to default to left handed, though I can’t remember if it does anymore.

  20. Rei Onryou says:

    @James: Never played Syndicate, but they’re definitely the ones from Syndicate Wars at least, so you’re probably right.

    This looks more like a proof of concept or prototype than $10 worth of game, but for a 3 man effort, its pretty feature-full. I hope these guys try to improve upon it further.

    I wonder what genre acronym this game deserves…

  21. PheonixK says:

    Does successful gameplay require using all the elements/genres, or can you pick-and-choose what you want to do? I can see myself unintentionally getting stuck in Quake or Battlezone mode and not experiencing the rest unless forced to.

  22. Hank says:

    @ maybenexttime:
    My first thought upon seeing the screenshot was “huh, shooting left-handed… finally!” I’m a lefty but I use the mouse right-handed and I’m pretty well used to just following the cross-hairs. It’d be nice to have the option of either one, anyway.

  23. Pantsman says:

    The original Unreal, as well as Unreal Tournament, had customizable handedness. You could choose right, left, or even center (for vortigaunts, I suppose).

  24. Jp1138 says:

    Remembers me of Battlecruiser 3000 AD. I hope it is better than it in its try to conquer the world :)

  25. Hermit says:

    I’ll give the demo a go, certainly.

    Sounds like one of those games that, provided they release some mod tools for it, will gain a decent cult following who churn out new missions and X-Wing models for years to come.

  26. Chis says:

    It comes with complete source code, apparently?

  27. Pod says:

    Left handed gun models?!1!1

  28. Amanda says:

    Interesting!
    Looks like there’s a word based (like Countdown) hacking game in there too.

    It takes me back to the Spectrum days where there were utterly bonkers games with half a dozen genres in them, but they looked utterly awful :) I suppose the music gets used because it’s out of copyright these days. Not sure if I’ll dl the demo yet or not.

  29. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Interesting and I think I’m sold on the music alone.

    And Yay Syndicate Wars (one of my fondest memories of PC gaming): “New mail is awaiting your attention”.

  30. The Interface Man says:

    @hmrnf:
    We’re currently working on getting Incognito on Linux, Mac OS X. It’s a slow process as we work with the engine guys and our code to remove all dependency on WinForm (Windows API) though we’ve had it working a few times in Wine in earlier versions; and we’re still trying.

    @Hermit:

    Yeah it does come with the source code and our development tools. Map Editor, Resource Editor, Tech Tree & Dialog Editors, and the source to our main game mechanics code.

  31. Maxwolf Goodliffe says:

    Just found this awesome review via Insight from YouTube. Never got notified that this was posted but hell yeah! Thank you Mr. Alec Meer!

    “Some” of the sounds are from Syndicate Wars and I love that game and sadly Bullfrog is no more so I decided to keep some of them in there becuase it is also one of my fondest memories of PC gaming as l1ddl3monkey mentioned.

    The demo of the game IS the full version, if you buy you can enter serial number and it becomes full version (no extra downloading). Thank you so much for your comments, we are always looking for ways to improve Incognito!

  32. RegisteredUser says:

    This has evolved quite a bit. Maybe a revisit?

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