Monday 26 August 2019

Inca - Final Rating

By Ilmari

Sometimes we beat games, sometimes games beat us. Inca definitely did that for me. At first it forced me to lose my dignity and rely on cheat codes to get even started. Then, after this irreparable error of dishonest gaming, I didn’t even manage to get to the end of it.

Look at it gloat!
I could undoubtedly use my reviewer powers and punish Inca with bad scores, but I want to leave all enmity behind and give a fair rating.

Puzzles and Solvability

The major problem of Inca is simply that the ratio of adventurish parts and action parts is way off for an adventure game. Even when I leaped over all the simulator bits, I still spent most of my time walking through a maze and shooting Spaniards.

If only I had seen more of this

Despite this, puzzles, the little the game had, were not that bad. Few of them were somewhat bland - meaningless rituals I solved just by clicking everything on anything. Some of them were quite good - getting out of my holding cell in the galleon and the final puzzle involving three magical gems were two especially intriguing specimens, where the solution was found by first experimenting properties of things and then using these properties creatively.

All in all, I was fairly positive about the puzzles, but not about the amount of puzzles.

Score: 3.

Interface and Inventory

The interface and inventory as such were quite adequate and simple to use. One click to take it, one click to use it. Clearly indicated hotspots and text telling what I am pointing at, if I couldn’t otherwise understand it. What else to wait for?

Well, a proper way to save your game. It was bad enough that the game used save codes, especially when sudden death was lurking behind almost every corner. It was even worse that the save points were so few and far between that I faced an arduous task when death forced me to replay.

Luckily modern technology allows screenshots, so I didn’t have to write all these codes down

Score: 3.

Story and Setting

I imagine that pitching round for Inca went something like: “Let’s have a space fight between Inca spaceship and Spanish space galleon…

...because it would look AWESOME!”

The basic premise is suitably cheesy, and it would perhaps be a little too much to ask that the game would have explored it more deeply - instead of seriously considering reasons why this supposedly space faring civilization could have been conquered by conquistadors, it offers us merely a cliche after cliche, such as an EEEEVIL enemy to battle with, a wise and mystical shaman to guide you and an obligatory romance. Even so, the story of Inca is not just cliched, but too patchy to hold together, and plot details are thrown around without any rhyme or reason. For instance, what is the motivation of conquistadors? Are they after riches? Or are they perhaps trying to convert the last remaining space Incas? Both options seem viable - Aguirre tries to convince his crew by promising them money, and his galleon works as a portal to heaven - but neither avenue is seriously considered, because the game is too much in a hurry to kick some Spanish butt.

Score: 4.

Sounds and Graphics

Coktel Vision has always been rather competent in the music department and they don’t fail this time either. The tunes belong to a genre I could call Inca pop - you know, music using traditional South American instruments, like pan pipes, charango and synthesizer. It’s quite catchy and some of the themes will most likely continue their stay as earworms.

Graphics are more of a mixed bag. There are evocative images, such as the oft mentioned Spanish galleon, but most of the game is spent watching bulky canyons and drab brown corridors.

The colour of boring

Score: 5.

Environment and Atmosphere

There’s so much wasted potential in this game. The databank of Inca culture, which you can access at the beginning of the game, shows that the developers did their research meticulously. Even if its basic premise derives more from ufology than anthropology, the game does pay homage to the traditions of the actual Incas, with which the rituals you perform are connected. Problem is that due to the overwhelming quantity of action scenes the interesting ideas are drowned out by mindless shooting.

3. A game that is more about energy blasts than about Incas

Score 4.

Dialogue and Acting

The writing of the game is serviceable, if not particularly memorable, with some cliched phraseology suitable for the cliched story structure. Again, the highlight were the sections where the producers had made an effort to familiarise the players with Inca traditions.

There were exactly two actors with spoken lines. Firstly, there was the ship computer which was probably made by Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, since it had the same cheery attitude as Eddie, the computer aboard the Heart of Gold. Secondly, the voice actor of Huayna Capac made a very convincing job and actually sounded like he was speaking whatever language Incas spoke (considering that I know nothing about the language of Incas nor do I know any Native American language whatsoever, this recommendation says absolutely nothing).

Score: 5.

(3 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4 + 5)/.6 = 40.

Inca rises just above the worse games of the year. This seems quite appropriate, since there were parts of the game I felt good about. If you don’t dislike the simulator nor the maze parts you might even enjoy Inca. Onward to CAP distribution!

CAP Distribution

100 CAPs to Ilmari
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For playing through Ince for everyone's enjoyment
45 CAPs to MorpheusKitami
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For correctly guessing the Final Rating of Inca
  • True Companion Award  - 25 CAPs - For playing Inca along with Ilmari and giving extensive commentary on the game
  • Level Design Award - 4 CAPs - For suggesting what Shooting Addict would discuss
  • Gender Roles Award - 6 CAPs - For instigating an interesting discussion about the intended gender of adventure game protagonists
10 CAPs to ShaddamIVth
  • Brightest Astrologer Award - 10 CAPs - For the best retort for a line in Inca
5 CAPs to Vetinari
  • Brightest Star Participation Award - 5 CAPs - For offering a retort for a line in Inca
5 CAPs to Lisa H.
  • Almost Psychic Prediction Award - 5 CAPs - For correctly guessing that Ilmari wouldn't have good time with the game
5 CAPs to Agrivar
  • History Buff Award - 5 CAPs - For finding a probable source for the antagonist of Inca


  1. I'm genuinely shocked I got it right, but then, I was expecting some minor deductions for the extremely high quality flying sections that left questions about the developer's competence.
    I also found out a few days ago that not only does this have a sequel in Inca II, but a kind of spiritual successor in The Last Dynasty. Doesn't that just make you jump for joy?

    One thing I want to point out, and I don't remember if I've been harping on this or not, but the CD version has voices for all the characters. In English even.

    1. Well, having no real experience about simulations in general, I didn't feel like I had competence to say anything about the quality of the space ship sections (beyond the fact that there's too much of it, and that I took already into consideration with the P score).

      And yes, I am just dying to get to play it...

    2. Fair enough.

      In my shock to discover I had gotten the closest to right guess on the score, I forgot to mention that the manual states Aguirre's motivation is wealth and power. I'd also like to throw out that maybe the reason behind the flight of their galleons are the Spanish Mystics. Maybe, I don't know, I'm just remembering those now.
      Of course, if either of those things are true it would've helped them Huayna Capac to mention it at one point, but I guess the player's heart beats too loudly or something.

    3. Wait, so the galleon is a portal to heaven? Wouldn't this confirm the Christian faith and make everyone want to convert in any case? And since Christian religious texts specifically mention not being able to take your worldly wealth with you does this not make their quest for riches futile? Or am I reading too much into it? Either way I think Ilmari is justified for calling the plot a bit half-baked to use the nicer term.

      But it is an interesting look at one of the earlier attempts at a hybrid game, so our thanks for the pain and effort that went into it!

    4. If not to heaven itself, at least to its doorstep (we see Saint Peter there)... or then the Spanish just injected some LSD to El Dorado. Come to think of it, it would make most sense if the whole game is one big hallucination.

    5. "it would make most sense if the whole game is one big hallucination"

      Like most of the Coktel Vision games...

  2. Replies
    1. That's a dangerous business! Misspelling Aguirre will prompt him to build a bigger ship, sail north, take Trinidad from the Spanish crown, sail on and take Mexico from Cortez, after all.

      What great treachery this will be! ;-)

    2. Seems like I can get it never right... Thanks!

  3. Thank you for suffering through this to our benefit, Ilmari! I understand you've already signed up for the sequel and it seems to me that a premature 'good luck' would already be in order!

    1. Luckily, Inca II will come out at the end of 1993, so I won't have to worry about it for quite a while.

    2. Inca 2 was a better game, at least for me. It has more adventure sections


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