[Review] Incredipede – The Build-a-QWOP-Workshop
Incredipede taught me a valuable lesson about judging a book by its cover. Initially, when I first caught sight of a few screenshots, I dismissed it as some sort of World of Goo looking imitation, but after actually playing it, it’s something entirely different and new. I am sure many of you have played, or at least attempted to play, the notoriously difficult webgame QWOP. If you have had the bittersweet fortune to play that game, then you’ll be familiar with the basic mechanics of Incredipede as you basically shuffle, stumble, roll, hop, and swim your way through the game. With a greatly expanded flash game concept and artistic influences from around the world, does this all wrap up into as pretty a package as it looks?
As I mentioned, the basic gameplay mechanic in Incredipede is similar to QWOP, however with a very big difference that makes it far from a copy. You don’t play as a human, much less an incredibly inept Olympic athlete; you play as a strange creature made literally of just skin and bones. Her name is Quozzle and I love her, but we’ll get to that later. Here is where things get interesting, as with every level, this creature will look different with any number of limbs and muscles, which are the only things that keep her mobile. Instead of using the Q, W, O, and P, buttons to move, you’ll be using A, S, and sometimes K and L. It really all depends on how you build her. Yes, Incredipede is a game where you build your own QWOP. I know how all of you have been dying for that opportunity. It’s actually an incredibly interesting mechanic that can both confuse and elate.
You can play Incredipede on Normal, where you’ll probably knock out the campaign in an hour or so. A specifically shaped Quozzle will be given to you to figure out how to accomplish your goal of either collecting cherries or delivering another item to the goal beam of light.Towards the end of the game, it can get pretty difficult to really collect everything, but odds are you won’t get stuck. Hard mode is another story however. It’s enough to play through the game with the character built for you, but most times you’ll have to build her yourself, giving you the selection to add as few or as many limbs as you want; corresponding to either A and S or K and L, and moving clockwise or counter-clockwise. It’s a lot to consider and I, being terrible at mathematics, had difficulty engineering the most efficient Quozzle to navigate through a given level with grace. That’s also half the fun as the game seriously squeezed a lot of laughs out of me at all the silliness that would be occurring on my screen. All I want to do is help Quozzle, but I just made her quiver helplessly into a pool of lava. My bad.
When done correctly, every level can actually be accomplished in a matter of around 15 seconds, but the trial-and-error process might stretch out your playthroughs to several more hours. Still, like Super Meat Boy, you can die countless times and still have a blast. Even if you get stuck, all hope is not lost as since you can create Quozzle to your liking. As everyone likely has their own solution to any given puzzle, you can watch someone else’s uploaded method and borrow their ideas to help solve it yourself.
There is a little story to Incredipede about some men who arrive on ships and kidnap Quozzle’s sisters, but it’s not very present other than two cutscenes at the very beginning and the very end. Without giving anything away, it actually has a pretty profound ending that is surprisingly bittersweet. Just as well, achievements seem to give more insight into the overall theme of the game. It should be noted that Incredipede’s only achievements are actually for things you do in real-life outside of the game. They will suggest you go outside and do something in particular or observe your pet or some other animal you find outside for some reason. The game trusts that you won’t want to cheat and lie to yourself by just clicking “I did this.” It even makes you click twice with “Honestly, I did this,” before you claim the achievement for the small task.
On the surface, Incredipede is a beautiful game. The songs that resonate throughout each level are varied and remarkable, with bouts of exotic percussion and chanting, it develops an atmosphere that is hard to want to leave. The art style has an excellent amount of detail that absolutely flourishes in and out of the levels, especially on the worldmap. I only wish that there were more worlds past the only three to show off more of the artist Thomas Shahan’s skills. Still, each world is different with its own personality akin to Quozzle herself. On the subject of the protagonist, she is actually one of my favorites that I have seen in a video game in a while; another silent hero and technically only an eye, but that makes her all the more expressive (and sassy). She may squint if you leave the mouse in your face or her eye will widen in shock as she plummets to her doom. Seriously, Quozzle is cute as hell. With some levels that have her grip or hanging onto and from objects, she warmed my heart without even trying. I didn’t think something so unholy-looking would actually be so charming. “What has science done?!” Something adorable, that’s what, bitch.
I did encounter several bugs in a few of the HUD tutorial messages that stay present throughout some of the levels, but that can be fixed easily. Considering you have the ability to make a confounding and grotesque being with as many limbs and shapes as your beautiful little imaginations can cook up, it all handles and operates very well with no lag, even with a painful excess of limbs popping out of poor Quozzle. There is a sandbox mode where you can just build her up and save your creation to share with whomever you’d like to share that adorable atrocity with. There is also a level editor which you can also toy around with. Everything you create can be shared through the game or via a link which can input by anyone else with the game.
With a thorough aspect of creation from the creature to the levels, there adds a lot of replayability to the otherwise short campaign. The more difficult levels will give you a run for your money and have you spending more time on it, but it’s doubtful you’ll be finding even a 10-hour adventure in Incredipede. The story is relatively thin, but profound. Still, as a small part of the gameplay it makes little difference. The achievements are few, but very creative and a beautifully lush art style and soundtrack breathes a life into this game that you would not expect at first glance. If you’re going to get hooked on creating, sharing, and playing custom creatures and levels, you’ll get a lot out of the $15 price tag. On the contrary, if you’re going to skim through the adventure, you’ll get around 4 hours max, trial-and-error included. I feel bad laughing at moments where I would lead the strange, but adorable, Quozzle to her death, but it’s all too fun to regret. As a concept that builds off of the idea of QWOP, Incredipede a marvelous little indie game that certainly deserves recognition. There’s a lot more meat on this scrawny creature’s bones than it seems.
[+Stellar concept] [+Gorgeous art style] [+Fascinating soundtrack] [+Robust level editor] [+You can build Quozzle to your liking] [+Original and self-rewarding achievements] [+Surprisingly profound] [+Solid controls and physics] [+Fair and satisfying difficulty] [-Three worlds too few] [-A few levels are too easy]