Frank Solway didn’t have a lot of options. Shortly after calling a cab, one fell out of the sky followed by a collection of seemingly random worldly goods. All he really knew to do was to keep climbing on top of the mound of stuff, searching for an end and searching for answers.
The result of such a mysterious and absurd plot line is one of the most intriguing casual games to arrive on the iPhone this year. At first glance, it seems like a simple play mechanic pushed to its limits. But if one is willing to play and think through it actively rather than waiting for the game to entertain us, it becomes quite the mystery – even if that mystery doesn’t necessarily have a satisfactory answer.
In The Incident, the player is tasked with avoiding falling objects while simultaneously climbing on top of them in order to reach higher ground and avoid being buried beneath. If you’re merely looking for an entertaining time-waster, The Incident will entertain you in fragments. The game is fun in small amounts of time, and if played for mere minutes (as iPhone games are often played) it remains fresh throughout. Power-up options expand as you progress through the game and the scenery changes regularly and is aways beautiful. Even the masterfully produced old-school music, which never really changes throughout the game, never seems to get old.
The game can be incredibly frustrating in the later levels, and may cause less patient players to give up on the game for a while. Those who stick with it, though, will find finishing the game to be an incredibly rewarding experience. Still, it is possible that some players could grow bored with the game over a short time. The mechanic never really changes or evolves, and the changing scenery and collection of stuff isn’t always enough to overshadow that mechanical repetitiveness. The recently added endless mode (with Game Center support for leaderboards) is a no-brainer, but also does little to assuage the complaints of those who have grown bored of the original gameplay.
If you’re up for being engaged, however, The Incident provides more than meets the eye. Why is The Incident happening? Is there any significance to any of this stuff falling from the sky? Did Frank do something wrong, or is this happening to everyone? We may never find answers to these questions, but investigating and speculating is half the fun.
Frank didn’t have a lot of options. All he could do was climb, and observe his surroundings. The same is true of those of us playing the game. Do we merely give up and allow ourselves to be buried underneath a mound of stuff? Or do we climb to the stars, determined to get to the bottom of a mystery that promises no answers?
Review copy provided by publisher.