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.
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.