Wednesday, 5 October 2016

ALIEN INCIDENT


If you have an Uncle who is also a scientist, don't ever visit his house. At least that's what adventure game logic has always taught me. His contraption will almost always bring forth the possibility of a cataclysmic event that only your teenage mind can fix. Add a stormy Halloween night into the mix (like Housemarque's 1996 adventure, Alien Incident), and your almost guaranteed to bear witness to some strange things.

Alien Incident begins with young Benjamin Richards visiting his Uncle's creepy mansion to bear witness to one of his experiments. He calls it the Worm Hole Spawner. Due to a fortunate lightning strike, the experiment unexpectedly works. The only problem is that the wormhole sucks in a spaceship full of war-mongering aliens. It's not long until these Casper wannabes abduct your uncle to force him to take them home as if he knows what went right. It's up to you (as Ben) to save him, the world and a mysterious sentient 'glowing entity'.

The game is your traditional point-n-click adventure in the LucasArts mould. You cannot die (although there is an unwinnable situation you can find yourself in) and the puzzles are almost entirely inventory based. The interface is somewhat streamlines too. Verbs have been completely removed with a simple right click allowing you to perform a variety of actions with any interactable object. The left mouse button makes Ben walk over to said spot, as well as using any item in your inventory. The inventory in always present on screen, placed underneath the main area or 'movie screen' as the manual puts it.

I don't know why I'm explaining it in such detail as it's a very simple set up, kind of like the game itself. Alien Incident errs on the easy side of adventuring, perhaps being the easiest I've played without being specifically for young children. Most of the time the solutions are rather obvious, even if you haven't found the puzzle yet. There are a huge number of items to pick up and most of the time it'll be the solution to a riddle you've yet to come across. For example, by finding a growth formula in a fridge, you can expect to use it on the first plant you can interact with. Even the dreaded maze sections are a breeze to navigate (although I've included some maps just in case). To bypass the aforementioned unwinnable situation, just make sure your disguised as a jack-o-lantern before entering the alien space craft.

The game is just as charming as it is easy. Despite being developed by a Finnish company, the dialogue is well written and entertainingly told (even if the odd grammatical error and spelling mistake pops up). Ben is a likeable teen and everyone he encounters exudes an oddball nature that keeps you invested. The voice acting which is sadly limited to just the introduction is above average too. It makes you wonder why they didn't go the extra mile to include it throughout the entire game.

The lack of speech is perhaps the only sign that this was developed by a small independent team. The VGA graphics are perhaps the best they could've been before the likes of Broken Sword and Blade Runner upped the graphical fidelity and the Windows OS became the norm. If this had come out in 1994 as originally planned it would've been spectacular. Even so, there are some nice graphical touches that bely its small budget and still hold up rather well. The delay was caused by a merger between two companies - Bloodhouse (the original developer) and Terramarque - to form Housemarque. The Amiga 1200 port was an unfortunate casualty but at least we got this DOS only version.

Alien Incident is a fun game for adventure fans of all ages. Experienced gamers may breeze through it but they'll no doubt enjoy the ride 'til the very end. An underrated Halloween classic.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

Download


Alien Incident is © Housemarque
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me 

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