Harper is a university dropout handyman. He’s got no motivations and pretty much no aspirations, until a mysterious plague spreads across his town and he finds an infected woman dying on his doorstep begging him to complete her mission. After that, he’s embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy, with dangerous twists and plenty of Unforeseen Incidents.
Unforeseen Incidents is a point & click adventure game, one of the many wonderful titles I’ve been enjoying recently, as more and more developers turn to the adventure genre to give us great stories and characters. Unforeseen Incident might be one of the best games I’ve played this year, a truly engrossing adventure that kept me hooked right up to the very end.
Release date: May 2018
- Great Art: I love this art style. Part of it is the way the artist, Matthias Nikutta, draws the eyes, making all characters look bewildered, insomniac or psychotic. They’re wide crazy eyes and it’s phenomenal. But what really makes it striking is how much the important details and the theme of each locale, stand out. For example, Yelltown is a backwater town with a derelict quality to it, but only in its exterior. Buildings, on the outside, look patched together but on the inside they’re nice, and it’s the same with their people, they might seem rough but are gentle, and it’s all expressed brilliantly through the art. Best thing is that it looks wonderful still and even better in motion.
- The Hero we Deserve: I’ve long complained of adventure game protagonists acting as villains on their way to save the world, hurting others through their actions, cheating and lying to success, which makes Harper stand out. There are instances of him messing with others, sure, but more often than not, he’s getting what he needs by helping others, by lending a hand to a friend in need. And he’s a genuinely good guy, often underestimated despite being quite capable at what he does.
- Romance Subverted: It’s quite typical in a point & click adventure game featuring a man and a woman as central characters, for them to develop a romantic relationship. It’s been done to death, so I found it extremely refreshing that Unforeseen Incidents subverts that trope and even lampshades it. Near the end there’s a moment of tender embrace and Harper goes for the kiss, for a hilarious reaction by his female lead, Helliwell. It’s fantastic, and it’s not just that moment but an entire game where Harper and the women around him stand as equals, allies and friends without romance shoehorned in.
- Brain Teaser: I have been stuck in Unforeseen Incidents quite a few times, oblivious to the solutions to the puzzles, even when I held all the pieces in front of me. I love it when that happens, as I have to think carefully about my options. The good thing is that at no point is the solution something so outlandish that you wonder what kind of paint the designers have been sniffing. Everything follows a rational logic, but sometimes the clues are very well hidden. For example, the password for an account in chapter three could be hidden in an item collected in chapter two, but with the username changed based on the pattern made apparent by the last account you used in another system. It’s all logical, as many companies and organisation tend to keep the same naming conventions for accounts, but if you’re looking for an easy answer, you’re gonna have a rough time, or if you’re like me, a hell of a fun time! Favourite puzzle, hands down, if the pressure plate puzzle to recreate a cult’s motto. Loved it.
- Praise the DJ: Not only is the art style amazing and the puzzles fun, but Unforeseen Incident’s music is also extremely good, from the moment you launch the game, so kudos to Tristan Berger, the composer and sound designer. The title has this intense violin that combined with the sound of a storm in the background just makes you feel like you’re stepping into a thriller. Yelltown also uses the violin but in a much calmer way, along with a guitar, for something of a sad melody, reflecting the abandonment of the town and then you reach Greystone Woods National Park and the guitar and banjo combo just screams backwoods countryside (which is funny when the devs are Backwoods Entertainment). It’s phenomenal how much the music complements the art style in telling you the story of the place your adventuring in. It’s genius.
- Strong Vocals: I have high praise for the voice acting, especially Harper’s. I love the intensity the actors bring to the characters’ reactions, in particular his bewilderment at other people’s craziness. Greystone is a prime example, with a collection of weirdos living in the area everyone with a stranger story, leaving Harper the only sane man in a few hundred miles and often reacting to the stupid things they say as if they made complete sense, the brothers managing the hydroelectric plant being the best of them.
- Great Story, Great Villains: Often even the most grounded-sounding point & click adventure game will have a plot that goes off the rails and into cuckoo town by the end, which is why I so enjoyed Unforeseen Incident’s story so much. It’s a bit far-fetched but it makes sense and the villain’s reasons for doing things are freaking genius. They make perfect sense, and nothing makes a better antagonist than one who doesn’t see the evil in their actions but a necessity and stands uncaring in the face of cruelty, all of it part of the plan, another tool in the belt.
- Gratuitous Mini-Game: You gotta know a game is fantastic when the sum of my complaints is that between chapters there is a hacking puzzle mini game without any context. It stands on its own, for no apparent reason, without even a revelation down the line that it’s all been another character hacking the villain’s systems. Nope, just a little mini game to give you a puzzle fix between intermission story points. Yeah, that’s my only complaint and it’s pretty much nitpicking to have something in the “The Bad” section. The game’s perfect, now leave me alone and go play it!