Alien Incident (1996)

Alien Incident (1996), developed by Housemarque, published by GameTek

Alien Incident is the only point-and-click adventure Housemarque has produced to this date and as such, this clearly Lucasfilm-inspired title is something of an anomaly in their catalogue consisting mostly of action games. It's also one of the very few commercial adventure games produced in Finland. In fact, I can't really think of any other from the top of my head, though I'm certain there must be at least a handful besides Alien Incident.

On Halloween, Benjamin witnesses, how his scientist uncle is firing up his newest invention, a Wormhole Spawner, for the first time. Just as he turns the machine on, lightning strikes it, but a wormhole opens up, nonetheless. Little do Benjamin and his uncle realise, that the wormhole manages to end up on the way of an alien spaceship in chase of a mysterious entity, which both end up on Earth.

The aliens are, unsurprisingly, intrigued by the machine, so they capture Benjamin's uncle. They want him to re-create the wormhole so they can get back home. They aren't friendly though, as they mean to get the information by torture and have ill intentions towards the mysterious entity as well. It's now Benjamin's job to find the way to the spaceship to rescue his uncle.

This image is actually from the cinematic intro, which is very heavily compressed.

Narratively, Alien Incident is something of a pretty typical mid-90s adventure game. It's a tongue-in-cheek adventure game containing an even spread or more or less tired, even at the time, pop culture jabs. It doesn't really offer anything new in those terms but it isn't off-putting either.  

Technically speaking, Alien Incident is a bit of an uneven experience. While the UI works reasonably well, there's just something a tad unpolished about it, overall. At times, the hotspot detection seems off, though I don't know if that's a fault in the game or with incompatibility with DosBox.  Also, the animation speed is frustratingly slow and even if the game itself isn't that long, you spend quite a bit of time walking between scenes. The slow movement speed makes this unnecessarily annoying. There are some neat tricks in the engine though, most noticeably the pretty decently done light effects, which allow the characters to fade in and out between darker and lighter areas of the screen.  

Quite a few puzzles rely heavily on pixel hunting, so the issues with hotspot hunting are quite an obstacle at times. That said, the puzzles aren't really hard and the game is, all in all, rather easy. And short. If not for the seemingly mandatory maze section, the game would be even shorter.

Many of the game locations just scream Lucasfilm games.

Otherwise, the UI itself is very simplified from what Lucasfilm offered. It's basically a two-button smart cursor system, with the left click performing an appropriate action and the right button acting as an examine command.  The lower part of the screen is reserved for the inventory and the action text description display. These both are perfectly functional, but it has to be noted, that at times, the full action description text doesn't quite fit in the space reserved for it.

Graphically, Alien Incident is in the middle of the road. It really doesn't manage to offer much in terms of originality and the graphical style, down to the sprite art, clearly owes a lot to Lucasfilm games. Some of the character sprites would seem right at home in a Lucasfilm game. 

There's some voice acting in the intro, but overall the game is text-based. The music is mostly annoying and serves best turned off.

So, yeah, Alien Incident. It's pretty obvious why this game is now largely forgotten, perhaps even by the company that originally made it. While it is decent enough of a game, it's not anything really noteworthy either. 

While the developer, Housemarque, is still around, the game itself isn't actively sold anywhere. I wouldn't call it a huge loss, by any means.