Every now and again, a long-dormant genre makes a triumphant return to rekindle fond childhood memories and Unforeseen Incidents is one example. This game is a hand-painted ‘point and click’ adventure which was the hallmark of many titles for the PC back in the 90s’. Developer Backwoods Entertainment is following the path of nostalgia to make something that’s remarkably fresh, yet familiar. This game has been out for a while, but many gamers missed it due to the slew of juggernauts that were released in the year 2018. In any case, this title is riddled with charm and a very peculiar art style. The story is about a blue-collared handyman named Harper Pendrell who is hot on a trail of solving a mystery after coming across a dying woman on the street. Evidently, a strange illness is crawling across the country and Harper is the only person that has the gumshoe skills to unravel what is going on.
Armed with a nifty multi-tool, Harper treks across various locations to converse with all manners of eccentric characters to collect clues and items to progress through the story. Much in a classic ‘point and click’ fashion. Even though this particular genre may not hold the attention of younger gamers, there is still a deep-seated love for these types of games for gamers that grew up in the 90s. Players that played classic PC games like Sam and Max and Freddy Pharkas might want to jump back into this pool with Unforeseen Incidents. This game has received mostly positive reviews and there is a surprisingly hefty amount of layers to it. No doubt that this title only comes with the appeal of a certain niche group of gamers out there. Apparently, developers Backwoods Entertainment and Application Systems Heidelberg are part of that group. Therefore, sometimes whatever is deemed “old” always ends up becoming new again and this game is a testament to that adage.
Something Down in a Small Town
The entire adventure of Unforeseen Incidents all takes place within the small town of Yelltown. Even though the core o of the story takes place within urban environments, the game will branch off to more desolate places. The coastal city of Port Nicola and the vast labyrinth of Greywoods National Park are only a few areas that Harper will need to investigate. Harper isn’t exactly a seasoned detective by any means, he just wants to live a life of solace fixing electronics in a quaint town. Therefore, he will be aided by a reporter named Helliwell, as they pick each other’s brains on trying to figure out where to go and who to talk to. She kind of acts as a guide for the players to help nudge them in the right direction in order to progress the story.
The animations are generally fluid and lifelike. They may be a little limited, but that’s to be expected with an indie developer with a small budget. Luckily, the camera does know when to zoom out for a panoramic view, zoom in for conversations, and overall properly frame scenes for the benefit of the player. The inventory that Harper accumulates throughout this adventure can be robust and sometimes overwhelming. However, the way everything connects is generally pragmatic and rooted in commonsense. There isn’t really anything too whimsical or silly to navigate through in terms of figuring out how to solve a certain situation. It has been noted that sometimes the high attention to detail in the background can sometimes drown out important items and interactive icons. The art design for Unforeseen Incidents is indeed rich, but that can be a detriment toward the gameplay.
Given that this story revolves around a virus spreading around the world is relatable, for sure. There are some mixed variations of gameplay with Unforeseen Incidents that go beyond the classic puzzle-solving motif. One segment of the game lets Harper try and find hidden small towns deep in a forest with radio signals. On top of that, there is also a stealth segment to pass. It can be a little wonky controlling Harper and not get caught with a base ‘point and click’ control scheme. However, these scenarios are far and few between. Additionally, there are also little minigames inserted between each major plot point in the game. It’s nothing too harrowing. Mostly, it is about routing a beam of light from one side to the screen to the other. Very similar to the circuit puzzles found in Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PS4.
Even though Unforeseen Incidents was released for the PC back in 2018, it strangely made its way to Nintendo Switch this past January. It’s rare that a ‘point and click’ adventure ends up on a console, but it happened with this title. This isn’t a bad thing, by any means. Games like these deserve to be played to a wider audience that goes beyond the PC niche group of gamers out there. PC gaming has its advantages, for sure. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are also casual gamers out there who simply don’t have the time to tinker with a gaming rig. Console gamers make up the majority of the consumer base and there’ is no escaping that. In any case, this game might be the start of more ‘point and click’ games coming to Nintendo Switch in the future. Even though Telltale Games are filling that void, newer talent is always welcomed.
Simple Man’s Conspiracy
Given that Unforeseen Incidents has found new life on the Nintendo Switch, taking time to point out its existence is worth taking note of. The game is generally well-crafted and a nice diversion from all the other genres out there today. It may have some dated gameplay mechanics, but the developers stitched some more contemporary features to keep things interesting. These types of games still have a surprisingly robust amount of fans out there and with them shifting to consoles, that number is only going to grow. Unforeseen Incidents is now available on the Nintendo Switch, PC, macOS, and Steam.