I don’t know how to explain what Incision is all about. On the surface, it is a pretty solid shooter with a great atmosphere. Everything starts falling apart inside my head when people ask me about the setting, and why everything looks so meaty. Incision impressed me with what it tried to do: making a no-nonsense shooter which is fun to play.
Developed by solo indie developer SmoothBrainDev (taking this name throughout the review will feel awkward) and published by Hyperstrange, Incision is a retro-inspired FPS packing personality and punch.
Incision takes place in a world overrun by a living mass of flesh and machinery, living in harmony with humans. Everything in the world has turned into a factory which serves as nerves and organs of higher beings with malicious intent. People who refuse to conform get turned into a heap of meat in the ever-growing cog.
Players take control of a disgruntled worker working in one of these factories for a few months, determined to escape the hell they’ve been living for freedom. There’s a lot of environmental storytelling, which players have to dig through. However, a clearer idea of what’s happening would’ve made life easier.
Nonetheless, what I loved about Incision is its grunge-inspired, grime-looking world. It reminded me of Silent Hill and, in some cases the first two Quake titles. What helps the whole illusion of helplessness in the world is the atmosphere. I cannot stress enough how brilliant the levels feel because of the ambient sounds, the soundtrack, and the overall low-poly retro aesthetics of the game.
When you put your cluelessness in the mix, Incision manages to make you creepy. The last time I felt a little creeped out playing an indie shooter was during the non-shooting sections in Nightmare Reaper.
Subdue and Maim Your Enemies
Of course, while the atmosphere and soundtracks are fine, Incision also includes some nail-biting shooting extravaganza. Right off the bat, players get to choose from four difficulties the game provides. What Incision introduces to the fold, is a slider letting players decide on the enemy projectile damage and speed. Both of these are modifiable regardless of what difficulty one selects.
Once players hop into the game, they progressively get access to eight of the weapons the game provides. By default, they start with their saw-blades and revolver. Of course, players get an arsenal because enemies are ruthless and out for our blood. After all, we are playing as a disgruntled worker who wants to escape. Each arsenal in the game has an alternate fire mode.
For example, players can hold right-click to twirl the revolver for a while and shoot a critical shot at the enemies. Similarly, the saw-blade starts spinning in alt-fire mode. As per the title’s early access page, the eight arsenals in the game are the final set of weapons.
Movement-wise, players can double jump, sprint using Shift and slowdown using control. There’s no crouch or sliding in the title. However, a Kick is provided to the player that gets used to breaking open cracks in walls. These cracks house the secrets in the levels. Players can also kick the enemies, though that doesn’t deal much damage.
No Saves, But Extra Lives
The only real complaint I have with this game stems from its difficulty and the omission of a save system. SmoothBrainDev on the game forum has said the reason for skipping the system is that the game wasn’t designed with it in mind, with the game designed “for his own taste first, always,” which I respect.
However, it tends to get annoying when you need to redo the whole level from the beginning after dying from the boss or an enemy. And the annoyance quickly changes to frustration when the enemy’s difficulty is put in the equation.
The game feels hard to play even in the easiest difficulty, making me question if enemy balancing was proper or not. I like to play my shooters in the hardest or second hardest difficulty, Incision made me change the difficulty immediately to something much more tamer because of how hard it gets.
Of course, to make things not unfair, there is a life system. If players own a life pickup, and their health drops to zero, the life gets used to keep them alive for longer. However, they aren’t readily available in levels and require a thorough search.
When Hyperstrange shared the below-mentioned tweet on their socials, I chucked and thought “how hard will it be?”
– Hey, @SmoothBrainDev, we need a quote from you for the press release about the INCISION launch.
– Quote? What about?
– IDK, what drives you to game development or some shit…
INCISION on Steam: 🩸https://t.co/MKm4CASzP6🩸
Just _hours_ before launch. WISHLIST NOW! pic.twitter.com/79FU0eATCy
— HYPERSTRANGE | INCISION out on STEAM! (@HYPERSTRANGE) September 15, 2022
Playing through Incision made me tack back those words. SmoothBrainDev’s solo attempt at creating a retro-FPS is undoubtedly a commendable task. Incision ticks off many of my checklists for a fun videogame: good atmosphere, great soundtrack and fast-paced shooting. However, the omission of a save system is making me have mixed feelings about the title.
Don’t get me wrong, at its current state, Incision is polished, but the game requires a save system, especially when the enemies are brutal in easier difficulties. However, I can recommend the title based on the fact that it is a good FPS in an early-access. Retro-FPS enjoyers will love this.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for coverage purposes
Hyperstange published retro-FPS brings a solid grim atmosphere to a well-made indie FPS. Unfortunately, at times the no-save option makes the game give out mixed energy.