Incredipede: first look at the unsettling and beautiful creature constructor
This preview originally appeared in issue 244 of PC Gamer UK
"Incredipede is a game about life and feet,” explains Colin Northway. He’s the nomadic creator of a genuine god game – a mash-up between Spore and World of Goo, where you design creatures that jump, climb, shove, swing, dance, or just jiggle their way to the end of the level.
You start with a blinking eye, named Quozzle. By clicking and dragging, you add hairy, bristle-covered limbs to his torso one at time. Then you hook them up with muscles, which fire alternately, creating movement. Once you think your creation is complete, you can unleash your Frankenstein’s monster on the world.
What happens next will depend on how well you’ve designed your Quozzle. In a perfect world, he’ll shamble on over to the level’s exit, but more often than not he’ll fall to his death, be burnt
up in a pool of bubbling lava, or in the most heartbreaking of cases, just get stuck pushing up against an obstacle relentlessly, forever.
Northway is the indie developer behind Fantastic Contraption – a physics puzzler where you construct elaborate machines. Two years ago, he sold off everything he owned except for some clothes, a backpack and a laptop, and set off with his wife to see the world and make games – which he’s been doing ever since. That means he gets to say things like “the design process involved many long kayak trips in Honduras, long beach walks in Costa Rica and discussions in Tokyo cafes”.
The game changed dramatically during that time. When Quozzle was born in the swamps of Honduras, he had a nervous system and a brain, as well as muscles and bone. However that proved confusing, so his brain and nerves were chopped out and the knee-like joints swapped for shoulder-like ones that can rotate 360 degrees.
“That makes all kind of interesting motions possible, especially when you have a few attached together rotating in different directions,” Northway said.
He decided early on that the game would share aesthetics with the Victorian biology textbooks created by explorers venturing around the world. “Imagine getting hold of one of these books in 1860. What if some wayward uncle had left you a book about a mysterious island somewhere where creatures could change their shape? I bet in 1860 you’d believe it.”
That distinctive look was created by Thomas Shahan. “I asked him to do a title screen for the game and he spent days examining medieval and Renaissance book covers before doing his drawing,” said Northway. “The result is so beautiful I’m seriously considering having some kind of special edition book covers printed.”
Incredipede isn’t far from finished. “We’re intending to launch on PC hopefully by the end of October,” says Northway. “Travelling while writing games isn’t as hard as you might think.”