Developer(s): Coktel Vision
Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Inca is primarily a point-and-click adventure game, though there are extensive, relatively simple, action sequences. The story of the game is possibly too bonkers to explain, but you play as El Dorado, who is tasked with gathering items of power and becoming the new Inca. In real-life, Europeans came to the Americas searching for gold and other resources and fought the Inca people, and I think this game takes that idea and blows it out into the realm of sci-fi metaphor. Because also, the whole game is in space, and you’re always flying a spaceship around, but you’re being chased by a Spanish conquistador named Aguirre, and his spaceship looks like a 16th century sailing ship. It never makes a ton of sense, but it is completely out there, which I can appreciate on some level.
You fly from location to location, engaging in first-person space combat, either with asteroids or with enemy ships. It works surprisingly well, and there aren’t a lot of slowdown or other issues as you rotate your ship in any direction, trying to catch the enemy in your radar and take them out. It’s all a little abstract, and certainly doesn’t compare to the dedicated space combat games of the day, but at least it’s functional. In a couple of stages, you’re placed in a long, steep-walled valley, and have to reach the end of it before any of the enemies, and so need to manage your throttle as well, slowing down to let opponents catch up with you so you can shoot them from behind. If you just try to outrun them, they’ll somehow speed up and win in the end, so better to take them out. I think these are the only times in the game where I actually failed a task and had to restart it.
Once you’re on a planet, you’ll alternate between puzzle-solving and moving through a maze. The mazes are absolutely as dull as possible, with only three kinds of rooms: straight hallways with one entrance and exit, then square rooms with four exits, where generally two (or three) of those four exits lead to the third kind of room: completely featureless, empty dead-ends. It’s impossibly boring, but at least pressing button 2 brings up an auto-generated map, so you don’t need to worry about actually getting lost. In some of the mazes, you’ll be regularly stopped by enemies, who pop in and out of cover and fire lasers at you, but it’s easy to shoot their laser blast before it hits you, and you have a ton of health anyway, so these are more nuisance than challenge.
And finally, the puzzles. The puzzles are decent, though sometimes a bit obscure. You can ask your guide for hints, but he never says anything useful. You gather and apply inventory items, usually just trying to clear a path forward, or gain access to a larger, brain-teaser style of puzzle to conclude the stage. Most of these areas feel too short, given the amount of time you spend flying through space or plodding through awful mazes. The longest one involves escaping after having been captured by Aguirre, and I was hoping the game would escalate from there, but unfortunately the rest of the game goes back to shorter, simpler puzzles.
I don’t like the graphics of Inca at all. They’re filled with of muddy browns, and reddish-browns, and brownish-golds, and a lot of the areas in the game simply don’t look like anything. The music, on the other hand, is very good. Inca comes from an era where game developers had access to CD audio for the first time, and many said, “Maybe we should have an original theme song!” And so was born: Inca People. Is the song actually good? Impossible to say. It’s truly bizarre, with lyrics like: “A journey through the Milky Way using our own technology; flying towards eternity into the space”. But I did catch myself singing it on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks, so that has to mean something, right? Even if you don’t play the game, and you probably shouldn’t bother, you should at least listen to its theme song.
Graphics – 5
Though there are a few interesting areas, much of the game is dull and ugly, with poor use of color, and filled with featureless mazes
Sound – 9
The theme song, Inca People, is legit
Gameplay – 6
The puzzles are decent, and the space combat is at least functional, but the mazes are a complete waste of time
Value – 7
It feels about the right length, which is to say I was ready for it to be over when it was over
Reviewer’s Tilt – 5
It took a long time for me to play through this game, because it was honestly so boring I never wanted to sit down and work through another few stages
Final Score – 6.0