The Fidelio Incident is a narrative game, out now on PC, designed by former God of War 3 art director Ken Feldman and the team at Act3 Games. With a gorgeous game world and genuine sense of mystery, it manages to tell a compelling story, but it works a bit too hard to impress.
The Fidelio Incident is about a man named Stanley, who is involved in a plane crash that leaves him and his wife Leonore stranded on separate sides of a mysterious island. Stanley sets off to rescue Leonore, kicking off a struggle that mixes survival narratives with magical realism and even hints of crime drama.
Strong world design is the glue that holds The Fidelio Incident together. The barren island's windswept tundras and furious hail make for one of most oppressively hostile game worlds I've ever navigated. The world is gorgeous but deadly. Players trudge up massive ridges, rushing from heat source to heat source so they don't freeze. Large ice lakes demand careful steps lest they crack and shatter. The cold and the challenging environment limits the amount of exploring that can be done, but the constant threat of cold makes this limitation tense.
The Fidelio Incident has lofty narrative aims, which it achieves with various degrees of success. Exploring the island gives way to hidden bunkers and mysterious locales, and scattered diary pages shed light on Stanley and Leonore's relationship. This is the story at its best, a pastiche of surreal spaces mingling an interesting tale of two mismatched lovers. But in other moments The Fidelio Incident has Stanley pensively narrating his journey across the island, or it becomes a surreal narrative focusing on his past sins. In these instances the game feels inconsistent. Puzzles, featuring valves to turn and items to collect, further add to the sense that the game wants to be too many things at once.
The journey is quick here, lasting no more than two hours, but the emotional core is sound. What The Fidelio Incident lacks in focus, it makes up for with interesting characters and a striking game world. It isn't going to blow your mind, but it will hold your attention.