Unforeseen Incidents is a mystery adventure point-and-click game from the German indie game company Backwoods Entertainment. It tells a story about Harper Pendrell, a small-town handyman who gets swooped into a world of conspiracy to solve when he encounters a woman infected with a highly lethal plague-like disease dubbed Yelltown fever, that is ravaging his hometown.
What catches the eye right from the beginning is the art style of the game. Hand-drawn looking, full of detail and gorgeous colors. Many chapters in the game play out during evening hours or night, so the player gets to enjoy many sunsets painting the cities in a pastel palette and starry skies over the vast wilderness. In addition to the beautiful graphics, the soundtrack of the game is hauntingly beautiful. Tracks emphasize violins, guitar, and piano, creating an organic sound that fluctuates smoothly from solemn to sonorous creating a cohesive union with the visuals. Sound designer Tristan Berger has a background in film music, and the player can hear it in his work.
Unforeseen Incidents is not just pretty; it’s also pleasant to play. Game mechanics aren’t new or experimental, but I don’t think they have to be for the game to be enjoyable, as the game proves. Puzzles are something expected from a point-and-click game: finding items and using them to interact with other items or the surroundings to advance the story. Despite a few red herrings, puzzles are satisfying to solve and sufficiently challenging. Paying attention pays off: clues can be picked up quickly from the conversations with the other characters or Harper’s humorous and pun-riddled monologue.
If a player gets stuck, they can focus on another puzzle than the one they were working on as the game allows solving several problems at once. On the other hand, the player is not provided a journal where they could check current objectives. This can prove challenging if there is a while between gaming sessions, and the player cannot remember where they left off. It’s an unlikely scenario, though, as the game is possible to play through in four to five hours by a puzzle game veteran, and in about ten by someone not so well versed in puzzle games.
The plot themes in Unforeseen Incidents are dark: cults, conspiracies, and plague killing thousands, but the overall atmosphere is surprisingly light. Harper is trying to solve the mystery behind Yelltown fever, but overall doesn’t seem too torn up about people dying. There are only a few times in the game where we hear the distress in his voice, but most of the time, he is just delivering glib one-liners when the player interacts with items in the game. I wonder if this is an intentional attempt to make less of a horror game, which this one certainly could be without the humor in the dialogue. I don’t hate it, but I see how someone could be bothered by how the characters don’t seem that worried by the disease.
Unforeseen Incidents offers a beautiful hand-drawn aesthetic, a bombardment of dad joke-level one-liners, and a gaming experience that doesn’t get too dark despite the gloomy theme. I’m not entirely convinced it’s worth its current price tag of 19,99€ in Steam, but if you can get your hands on it at a discounted price, I would highly recommend giving Unforeseen Incidents a try.
Publisher: Application Systems Heidelberg
Developer: Backwoods Entertainment
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, SteamOS, Mac OS
Release Date: 24 May 2018
Genres: point-and-click adventure game
Pictures: screenshots from the game, taken by the author