At first glance Arcanum looks like a role playing game full of great ideas: Its main attraction is its fantasy world, which is set at the time of an industrial revolution, that is about to turn it into a science fiction setting. It is a refreshingly unique place, full of whimsical magic and technical marvels, that has great potential for interesting twists to age-old cliches: How does an ageless being, like an elf, react to the rise of science, which is about to make the magic, that has kept him alive so far, obsolete? Is there a cheaper workforce than orcs, which can be exploited at will, for they are obviously evil and therefore deserve no less? Or what about safety: Should a wizard, whose magical power has an unpredictable effect on machines, be allowed to get close to steam engines or trains? There are so many new stories that could be told…
It is the night of Helloween and a mad professor sporting a stereotypical Einstein haircut is experimenting with his latest invention: a worm hole generator. Lightning strikes in just the right (or wrong?) moment and an alien as well as the creatures on its trail along with their space ship are catapulted right into Earth's orbit.
This is where I could like to end the re-telling of the ludicrous plot to our impatient readers. The point and click adventure builds on the most well-worn clichés in the area of ufology and mixes it up with the fairy tale style of the Monkey Island titles so that protagonist Benjamin, although not believable, still comes across as lovable. In his shoes, you will of course be helping this mysterious creature which is being pursued by an evil alien despot who is regularly seen being mean to his underlings. Nevertheless, the adventurer doesn't have to fear for his life: our Benjamin is still the nice boy next door and the only reason for him to die will be of boredom.
1997? Yes, I know what you're thinking: So he is playing new games after all. That's right - there are a few good ones. The more current the year, the bigger the exception, though, making it even more noteworthy if a good game turns up in such a year. Considering its age, Incubation is like a flower growing from bowl of pus. Growing from such an unpleasant surrounding, it has to be spoiled in some way.
In spite of its subtitle which relates it to the Battle Isle series, Incubation owes way more to games like Rebelstar and Laser Squad. The player controls a small group of soldiers stranded on a planet where generally peaceful aliens have been mutated into flesh-eating monsters by a virus. Very threatening to the human settlers.