Developer: Colin Northway and Sarah Northway
Publisher: Northway Games
Release Date: March 18, 2013 (Steam)
ESRB: N/A (E suggested)
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
As great as many indie games out there are, there“s no hiding the fact that most rely on very established genres and gameplay mechanics. Although there is no issue inherently with refining the platformer or puzzle game, it doesn“t bring anything truly new to the table. That“s why Incredipede stands out amongst others as a charming and very unusual puzzle game. But does Northway Games“ creativity lead to a success or failure?
Thankfully, Incredipede is a rousing success. You begin the game as an "incredipede" named Quozzle who has just had her sisters taken from her. Needing to find where they were taken, she travels through three worlds to reunite with her siblings. Each world is divided into many levels, which are of course the brunt of the game.
There are actually two main modes of play: Normal and Hard. This wouldn“t normally be a very important distinction, considering most games just amp up enemy strength or weakness of player to do this. However, Incredipede introduces a whole new, and very interesting, gameplay mechanic in Hard mode. As such, the two must both be discussed. First, we“ll start with what is similar between them both.
Regardless of the mode, players control Quozzle as she traverses a variety of ground across a multitude of levels. You must always reach a goal point (marked by a yellow beam of light). Often it is also important to grab special items dispersed among levels as well. Usually, this goal is on the opposite end of the screen. What makes this difficult is that the player doesn“t control their character with a standard left, right, up, down, and jump mechanic. Instead, Quozzle“s limbs are controlled via her muscles. Using two or more buttons, players must alternate between expanding and contracting her muscle(s) to propel her in various directions.
In Normal mode, your incredipede changes form about every level. This means sometimes you“ll be controlling a bipedal creature, and other times a many legged-filled form. Other times, you may have only one leg, one very long leg atop others, or even use them as wings to fly around. This mode is designed to still be challenging, but also give you a variety of incredipede styles to control. It“s a good mix between simple levels and ones that“ll make you scratch your head.
What changes when playing on Hard? Aside from the very first levels, players must create their own muscular and skeletal systems for Quozzle. With each level, you start off with a certain amount of muscles or limbs to work off of. Not all have to be used, of course, so it“s up to the player. Checking out this mode first seems extra difficult as players would not yet be familiar with movement controls or how these limbs are affected by gravity. As such, I recommend players begin the game on Normal to familiarize themselves with it beforehand as this is quite tough.
Still, being able to create your own incredipede to take on challenges is a lot of fun. After playing a level yourself, it“s even possible to look online to see videos of what other solutions people have used to beat a level. That means those scratching their heads about new designs can get inspired from the works of others. There is also a sandbox mode which gives you complete creative control over Quozzle in case you“d like to play around with new, more efficient designs.
With such creative and fun puzzle mechanics, Incredipede would be a successful game. This is taken further by the lovely visuals provided by Thomas Shahan. His work on wood cut art seems to have definitely seeped into the game, as it has a distinctively attractive art style. Backgrounds as well as the lead incredipede herself all look fantastic and make the world appealing to people of all ages. Particularly, I enjoyed the small flourishes of the art such as Quozzle“s â€œhappyâ€ eye as she finishes a stage, or how it closes in surprised pain when a block falls on her head.
Beating the game on Normal takes around 2-3 hours and Hard tacks on at least three more, unless you“re an Incredipede master. This may sound negative to those who prefer longer adventures, but that hardly means there isn“t enough content. Overall, it seems that there is a wealth to do as there is never one single way to complete a stage. Gamers who love experimenting and creating will agree, while others are probably just going to play it once through and be done.
Incredipede is a game with a great concept that actually lives up to that potential. Controlling an odd little insect“s locomotion against a gorgeous woodcut-inspired world alongside soothing music feels right. There“s a sense of wonder to be found while playing that few games, indie or otherwise, can touch. For that, Incredipede is one game that deserves attention from more than the puzzle or indie game crowd.
+ Great gameplay concept of designing muscular and skeletal systems
+ Gorgeous woodcut styled art
+ Players can view solutions for stages from others
- Quite difficult at times
- Could use more explanation as to how muscle control works
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
Incredipede is a marvelous blend of puzzle and platformer which has never been seen before.