Incubation Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Incubation Info


  • N/A


  • 1 - 4


  • Blue Byte


  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now


  • PC


Like X-COM, but better!

For a while, it seemed that the old, turn-based strategy games were a dying

breed. Warcraft II and the Command & Conquer series had started a craze for

real-time strategy games, and it seemed that the pensive, turned-based games

were a thing of the past. Despair no more! Through a combination of engaging

gameplay and high quality, 3-D graphics, Incubation

brings turn-based strategy back with a vengeance.

Incubation, from

Blue Byte software places you as the young Commander Bratt (that’s Bratt, not

brat), assigned to protect the colony Scray-Halwa. It seems that the colony’s

defenses have been breached and the planet’s indigenous, mutated, and dangerous

inhabitants have begun to wreak havoc in the colony. It is your mission to assemble

a squad of tough-as-nails space marines, and rid Scray-Halwa of the menace of

the monsters. The gameplay of Incubation is a turn-based, tactical combat

simulation. The game plays out a lot like the combat section of X-COM.

Your troops have a certain number of movement points, which are used by moving,

shooting, activating, etc. Once your turn is up, the enemy has their chance

to move and try to destroy your squad.

The game’s monsters, the Scray’Ger, come in an interesting assortment. There

are the obligatory weak, puny, and plentiful creatures which serve as cannon

fodder in the early stages, but later on you will come upon a creative collection

of monsters. Some creatures are slow and powerful and protected with

impenetrable frontal armor, yet are soft and vulnerable from behind. Other

creatures are vulnerable only when attacking, and must be killed by using the

‘defend mode’ command. Still other monsters are nearly invisible and

regenerate each turn. For all their variation, the monsters seem to

all share one brain. The fact that this is a turn based game makes the

actions of the monsters all the more predictable.

The graphics in Incubation

raise the bar for turn-based games. X-COM displayed the world in an isometric

perspective, using sprites to show every object. This was OK, but it made it

feel more like a board game than a combat simulation. Incubation displays

the entire world in glorious, texture-mapped, 3-D polygons. Rather than a fixed

camera angle, Incubation gives you enormous freedom in positioning your

viewpoint. The most visceral of the viewpoints is the ‘unit view’, in which

you can see the action from the perspective of the unit in your squad. Seeing

monsters explode “Quake”-style into chunky

salsa is much better than the ‘puff-of-smoke’ common to other turn based games.

Having a fully rendered, 3-D environment greatly adds to both the realism and

fun, making the slow pace of a turn based game seem much more immediate and


I was a little disappointed by the small selection of equipment available to

your squad. One of the things I liked about X-COM was the tremendous

variety of equipment available to your troops.

It also would have been nice if the designers had included at least some research

into the game. As it stands, you acquire better weaponry only by completing

missions, which leaves very little gameplay outside of the tactical combat sim.

Although the

selection of weapons and equipment was somewhat limited, most weapons have

more than one function, with my favorite being the gory but effective


One thing I found fairly annoying is that it seemed like there is very little

reason to want to save the colony Scray-Halwa. The colony itself is very

ugly, looking much like a dirty, run-down factory. Frankly, I don’t see why any

colonist would actually want to stay in that hideous hell-hole, especially

with the Scray’Ger frequently disemboweling them. The game tries

to inspire the player via sex appeal in the form of the amply polygonal

Commander Rutherford. The main reason I found myself coming back

was the well designed levels. There is a good variety of interesting levels, but what I like best about them is that they are like

puzzles. Often, I found I carefully have to allocate every shot and every

step in order to clear a level and avoid getting ripped to shreds. In some

levels, you must find the proper sequence to do things to lure the Scray’Ger

into your carefully set traps.

As a whole, I found Incubation to be a lot of fun. The 3-D graphics

make it unusually exciting for a turn based game, and the levels and Intricate

strategy kept me coming back for more. On the downside, Incubation does

have a fairly limited equipment selection, and, as a little peeve of mine, refused

to run unless I did the maximum installation, which gobbled upwards of 110 megabytes.

If you’re looking for the most engaging turn-based strategy game to come along

in a long time, Incubation is it.


Engaging gameplay
Great graphics
Well-designed levels
Small selection of equipment
Predictable enemies