You Should Play: The Incident
[These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.]
You’re standing there, minding your own business, when suddenly a dark shadow passes over you. Looking up, you see a taxi cab hurtling through mid-air! You have no option but to leap out of the way as it crashes down. Then comes a traffic light. A couch. A bureau. The marquee of a movie theater. And suddenly it dawns on you: Everything on Earth is falling on you.
Such is the plight of Frank Solway, hero of The Incident. Frank’s just an ordinary guy caught in extraordinary circumstances. Your job is to keep Frank on top of this huge mountain of stuff, and to get to the top of the pile without getting bonked on the head.
The Incident is my favorite mobile platformer by a long shot. The idea of a game whose mechanics are largely based on jumping is nothing new—games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. have been doing it for decades—but Frank’s particular plight of having to jump upwards while watching constantly for falling debris puts a new spin on the classic genre.
As you progress through the eight stages, during which you rise higher and higher—from the city streets to the mountains to the atmosphere and beyond—the objects plunking down at you start to come faster and more furiously. Not to mention you’ll want to try and collect falling gems, floating coins, and power-ups, all while avoiding the floating balloons of death that rise from below you.
In other words, the life of Frank ain’t easy. But here’s what makes it fun nonetheless.
Delightful: From the retro 16-bit graphics to the often haunting and equally nostalgic chiptune score, The Incident pegs that sweet spot of appreciating the game’s pedigree without wrenching you out of the immediate action. The huge number and variety of falling objects are particularly hilarious: Keep your eyes peeled not only for a DeLorean and a flux capacitor, but also a Carcassonne meeple and plenty of references to Lost. (My colleague Serenity Caldwell went so far as to catalog the various items by which she met her demise.)
Controls: It’s easy to overload an iOS game’s control scheme by just making another onscreen button for everything you can do. The Incident has just three controls: 1) tilt left or right to make Frank move in that direction; 2) tap on the screen to make Frank jump; and 3) shake the device to temporarily put Frank in a floating safety bubble. (That last one doesn’t last long, and can sometimes get you into as much trouble as it gets you out of.)
Gripping: Literally. After my first few days of playing The Incident, I could see the grooves in my hands where my iPhone’s edges had pressed into them. I had to take breaks every once in a while, just to shake out my hands and stretch my fingers. Oh, and have a snack. But then it was right back to the grind.
Technology: One of my favorite things about The Incident is the developers’ willingness to stretch what Apple’s technology can do. For example, you can use your iPhone as a controller while playing the game on your iPad, for a console-style experience. You can even hook up your iPad to your TV via Apple’s HDTV connector to jump at the big screen. And iCloud support will keep your game synced between your iPhone and iPad.
Easy, but hard: The Incident starts off pretty easy (even though it took me a while to get the hang of it), but as you get better, it rewards that confidence by making the game even tougher. At the highest levels, you’d better have lots of extra lives built up, because you are going to need them. Beware of playing too long, or you’ll start to see that flashing bar that indicates an incoming object even when your eyes are closed. And remember the cardinal rule of The Incident: ABJ. Always Be Jumping.
Developer: Big Bucket Software
Platforms: iOS (Universal), Mac