The Incident Review: It's A Happening, Freaks Me Out

The sky - and everything else - is falling in The Incident, an iPhone and iPad game that combines the randomised chaos of piling trash, a la Katamari Damacy, with the retro, one-button gameplay of platformers of old.

The Incident presents a more charming apocalypse than we're used to. Inexplicably, objects begin falling from the sky. As a high-jumping everyman, those falling objects must be dodged to avoid bonks on the head. And as those objects collect in an ever amassing pile of stuff, our jumping hero must stay atop them, reaching great heights, eventually space and the cause for this curious catastrophic event.

Clever, stylish and challenging, The Incident is the sort of happening that

Loved

One Man's Trash: The constant downpour of hundreds of things - taxis, ladders, furniture, home appliances, signs, vending machines, Moai heads, watermelons, Piet Mondrian paintings, boomboxes, street signs, etc - presents a constant threat to the player. Dodge falling items by tilting the iPhone or die after three bonks to the noggin. The awkwardly piling detritus presents an unstable, unpredictable surface on which to walk, climb and jump. Add in balloons that rise from the bottom of the screen that carry with them power ups - health boosts, protective helmets - or power downs - an Ancient Curse! - and you've got a smartly designed shake-up of the platforming genre. The Incident feels well explored mechanically and a perfect fit for Apple's platform.

Oh, I Get It: The Incident is attractively visually designed, but it was the game's more clever references that appealed to me more than its graphics. There are amusing nods to films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Back to the Future and pop culture sources like Neon Genesis Evangelion. The Incident tickles your geek side expertly while also providing the best Beard Mode of any game released in 2010.

Hated

With Difficulty and Luck: As the window for dodging objects gets shorter and things get more challenging near the game's end, The Incident becomes more frustrating than fun. You'll be placed in a few unavoidable pickles that can make actually finishing the game part lucky break, part brute force will.

The Incident is a great concept and with a very good execution. It is at times repetitive and patience-testing. At others, it is intense and full of simple, pure arcade thrills. The Incident wins for its charms (and its surprisingly cheap price) and should be on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

The Incident was developed by Big Bucket Software for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad on August 10. Retails for $2.49. Played game to completion on an iPhone 3G, experimented with Beard Mode.

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