All you have to do is get to the luminous beam of light at the end of the level. That’s all it takes to progress through Incredipede. However, actually figuring out how to get there is a bit of a challenge. In each level your buggy avatar has to mutate to make its way onward, growing new limbs and muscles as needed. This kind of experimental gameplay has a tendency to go wrong, even if it starts out strong. Incredipede might have things figured out, though.
Each stage in this game challenges you to retrieve the fruit (or other item) either by picking it up directly or by rolling it to the exit. Of course, you then have to make it to the exit as well. You do that with only a few buttons to control the incredipede’s muscles. However, the location and function of those muscles changes in every stage.
The creature is composed of rigid, bony limbs and color-coded muscles. You control which muscles are contracting with the corresponding colored buttons. At first you only have two buttons/muscle groups, but it gets bumped up as you move along. Don’t confuse simplicity with “easy,” though. These muscles don’t behave quite like real ones. They can “contract” forever, so they’re more like linear motors than muscles in a way. The only troubling part of the simple interface is the floating settings/reset panel at the bottom of the screen. It feels like it’s in the way much of the time.
There are two different ways to play Incredipede – normal mode and hard mode. There is some overlap in the levels, but in general the difficulty is higher throughout hard mode. The real difference is that in normal mode the creature in each level is provided for you, but with the difficulty set to hard you have to design it yourself. New limbs are created by dragging outward from the central eye, and muscles are dropped in by tapping the two attachment points.
It takes some time and experimentation to figure out how a finished creature works, whether you’re designing it yourself or just taking the defaults. This sense of discovery might be my favorite part of the game. Sometimes you walk, and other times you roll. There are even levels where the incredipede has wheels, wings, and articulating graspers. Sure, the level design is clever and whatnot, but learning how to control a new creature keeps the game fresh across all 120 stages.
You’ll need to grab most of the items from the levels to save up for passage out of each of the three worlds. You can still hop on the beam of light without picking up the fruit should you simply want to move on to the next stage, though.
Most games don’t surprise me in the graphical department. Even games that look great are somewhat expected. “Ah, you have implemented high-resolution textures and particle effects, good!” Incredipede looks awesome, but the way it gets there is not conventional.
Firstly, the textures used in this title are smooth and heavily lined. It gives it the appearance of a living woodblock print or an oil painting. We’re not just talking about video game graphics – this is art. With each movement, Incredipede takes on an almost surreal quality. The giant, blinking eye, the exposed muscles, and bony legs all work together to create a strangely beautiful aesthetic. Beautiful or not, if I saw any of the creatures from Incredipede skittering across the floor, I’d smash them like you wouldn’t believe. They’re pretty creepy sometimes.
Incredipede uses a somewhat muted color palette, which reinforces the painted vibe. There is just enough variation across the game that I don’t feel bored by the visuals. It really is a lovely game from top to bottom.
Incredipede is a physics puzzler that’s more than just trial and error – it’s about discovering and experimenting. Even if you play the normal mode, there is a sandbox where you can build new levels and create wild creatures just for fun. I’m enraptured by Incredipede. This game is just challenging enough that I’m driven to continue playing, but not so tough that I want to toss my device across the room. The constantly morphing beasty at the center of the experience also serves to keep things fresh – you’ll be a flapping sky-monster one moment, and a spindly spider creature the next.
There’s plenty of beauty to go with the brains, too. It’s almost eerie the way things in the game move. It’s like something from the wall of an art gallery has come to life and invaded your screen.
This title is usually $3.99, but it’s on sale in Google Play right now for $1.93. You should definitely pick it up.