Unforeseen Incidents Review – Foreseen point and click logic

Platform:
PC
Released:
May 24, 2018
Publisher:
Application Systems Heidelberg
Developers:
Backwoods EntertainmentApplication Systems Heidelberg

Review

Unforeseen Incidents is a point and click puzzle game set in the fictitious town of Yelltown. As Harper Pendrell, you’ll uncover government conspiracies, cults, and a deadly virus while trying to save yourself and those you love.

Despite the kind of bizarre name (since most incidents are in fact foreseen), this game has a lot to offer in terms of mechanics and art.

I went into Unforeseen Incidents confident of my knowledge of point and click logic. Although that quickly changed. Unforeseen Incidents definitely has some next level logic jumps. This is pretty much impossible to avoid for most point and clicks, and they do try to appease it with a hint system that highlights interactables with white dots. But there are also dots that bring up the map, or take you to a different area. 

In one instance I couldn’t find the screen I needed to complete a puzzle for 2 real world days. I was going insane. I’d clicked every item on every other item, every item and item combo onto literally every person. In the end it was because I couldn’t tell the difference between ‘this passage takes you back to the map’ and ‘this passage is actually another screen’. There was no signposting at all for this.

“…it reminds me of being a kid and trying to get through old-school mystery games.”

Apart from this, the game is wildly enjoyable. Really good puzzle design nine times out of ten. There are a few moments of “really? That was the answer?” but more often than not, they’re really satisfying puzzles.

I even had to get out a notebook and a pen to work stuff out. This is a favourite thing for me, it reminds me of being a kid and trying to get through old-school mystery games. And sometimes, puzzling out things requires actual real-world knowledge, like triangulation.

The requirement of real world knowledge even extended to building a fire! I feel like I could actually build a fire for real now!

The point and click parts are refreshingly broken up with conversations and ‘mini-games’ like hacking computers and tuning radio frequency. This keeps the mechanics really engaging and varied. Although there was one section with forced stealth that was unfortunately unintuitive in a 2D space, that took a lot of Harper dying before I was able to work out the pathing.

The hacking in game was a lot of fun, but there are some context driven areas (when a character is looking away, for instance) that are confusing because most conversations mean you can’t move. Then there are suddenly times when you can, and that’s the puzzle solution. It meant I got stuck a fair few times trying to work out when to move or not.

The game is also really sparse on ever giving you hints on what you’re meant to be doing. You can solve puzzles concurrently (you usually have 1 or 2 that you’re working on at any given time), but this also means that it’s very unclear what you’re meant to do sometimes.

Unforeseen Incidents definitely doesn’t hold your hand, which can go really well. As a player you feel so accomplished when you get it finally! But it can also go really poorly. You can end up completely stuck with absolutely no indication of how to progress.

“The writing oscillates between ‘clever narrative of current culture’ and ‘extremely cringy dude with an acoustic guitar who tries to explain Marxism to you at a party’.”

Narratively, it’s got some ups and downs. Overall, it’s very good. The characters are believable, the story is mostly linear, and there are some genuine laugh out loud parts to it.

It does have some issues however. The writing of Harper, the character you’re meant to connect with, oscillates between ‘clever narrative of current culture’ and ‘extremely cringy dude with an acoustic guitar who tries to explain Marxism to you at a party’.

It’s very clearly trying to be self-aware, which is great. But Harper’s one-liners can also be off-putting. From negging Helliwell, the female journalist helping him, to his Twin Peaks references.

Unfortunately Harper at times can be a pretty dislikable character. He comes off as obnoxious a lot, and it makes it hard to sympathise with him as a character. One second he’s devastated about the terrible plague that killed most of the people he knows and the next he is choosing to make some awful quips.

I also have two personal issues with the story that I found pretty on the nose. Light spoiler warning. Firstly, a queer character was a sweet addition. He’s going on a date with a dude who likes sport so he’s going to learn about sports for him! This is all you find out about him. He’s gay and doesn’t know sports. That’s about it. And then he dies! There’s a trope known as Bury your Gays that I was instantly reminded of. The shallow and fleeting nature of his character certainly dissapointed.

The second issue involves the cult Harper is investigating. The narrative gets convoluted about what this cult actually does so it ends up being slightly shoehorned and forced. On the whole this storyline is just somewhat… eh.

There are 918 people who died during the incident within the game, including many children and elderly. It feels very out of place for Harper, a character who’s just lost almost everyone he knows to a man-made plague (which he calls a murder, frequently) to then joke about a similar tragedy. Narratively it doesn’t flow, and mostly it just feels slightly insensitive of a real-world tragedy. Harper continues to make similar jokes through, and it feels tone-deaf of the game’s own story.

The voice acting is really stellar though. The VA’s do a lot with the tougher lines and some of the more awkward interactions. They really sell every single encounter. There’s a part where Harper is getting injured, and it genuinely sounded really awful.  For a point and click, this is so much more than many other games put in, and I really enjoyed every conversation because of it.

All of the audio in Unforeseen Incidents is on point, and the music adds to the experience without being overbearing. It’s also atmospheric and beautiful, you can see they put a lot of work into it, crafting the exact right feeling for the game.

Not to mention the art! The art was a huge selling point for me. It is absolutely outstanding. Everything’s hand-drawn, giving it a dreamy feel. The world feels complete and intense, and nothing is ever out of place, while still remaining as populated as real life.

With hard lines and shadows, the dilapidated worlds and stunning backgrounds really come together. I could not find a single thing that looked bad. Everything’s been worked to perfection and gameplay wise it feels beautiful to interact with.

The Bottom Line...

There’s a lot that’s good in Unforeseen Incidents. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get through to the good parts, and some of the narrative feels a bit confused and convoluted. Once you get through, you’re treated to beautiful art, outstanding audio and voice actors, and some ridiculously clever mechanics and puzzles. If you can stick out the confusion, this is definitely a world to get lost in.