Halloween is coming up soon! While the horror festival formerly found its supporters only in the US, it has now become a global phenomenon through popular media. Ghost and horror stories are often an integral part of local cultures, so there is no need for US influences to teach us how to be scared. Indonesian studio Hehe Gamez is trying with Incubo to create a puzzle platformer that combines these local ghost stories into one game. Can this adventurous horror mix make us break out in cold sweat?
Incubo tells the story of a little boy who is separated from his parents on a cruise and then must beat his way through a nightmarish horror world. On his path, he encounters all sorts of ghost and mythical creatures from all over the world, solves crisp puzzles and escapes (at best) nasty death traps. On the journey into the subconscious of the protagonist, topics such as fear, loss and growing up are treated. Of course, this is not a walk in the park: Incubo is full of psycho-horror, nasty jump scares and cruel death scenes. Despite the childish hero, Incubo is not a game for children.
In addition, the game is tough as hell. On a 2D level, we move the boy from room to room and solve different tasks in each section. At one point we overcome spiked chasms, later we hide from nasty monsters in hollow trunks. No place is safe, and every little mistake is deadly and results in having to completely repeat the room. Incubo is therefore in large parts pure trial and error, as the game scenes are difficult to read, the control often reacts inaccurately, and the collision detection fails. Quickly, you have put yourself in hopeless situations, are stuck eternally due to unfair spots or must restart the room because of a bug.
If you have a high frustration tolerance, you can look forward to an atmospherically dense and often very scary game despite its reduced style. The story is mostly exciting and after each room remains the satisfying feeling to have mastered a difficult challenge. Culturally interested gamers can discover a variety of ghost creatures, which have been well researched by the developers and recreated in comic look. So, in the first hour of the game, you will encounter Zombies, Clowns, Yurei and Pocong. It remains exciting to the end which other beings we will still meet.
It’s clear that inspiration for this game was the popular platform adventure Limbo. But unlike its role model, Incubo fails to achieve its brilliance. Too immature are the mechanics, too dirty the programming and too simple the style. Nevertheless, Incubo is perfect for those who are not afraid of any challenge and are interested in scary stories outside the mainstream.
Incubo is available for PC on Steam. This review is based on a free review copy kindly provided by publisher Maple Whispering.