Klei Entertainment is known for its stunning art and refined gameplay. The Canadian studio is not, however, known for planting its feet firmly in one genre. From Shank's bloody action to Mark of the Ninja's 2D stealth, to Don't Starve's survival challenge, each of the developer's games has successfully reached into a genre to extract its best elements. Incognita, a turn-based espionage game, aims to continue that trend.
I knew some of what to expect from Klei's latest. I was aware of its XCOM-like turn-based nature. I was prepared for the the stealth elements. I was caught off guard when the name FTL was introduced into the discussion.
The setup, as it was told to me, is that players guide spies for the Agency through buildings infested with security guards, cameras, and other obstructions. Along the way, hacking computers earns ICE breakers that can be used to hack mainframes.
THe levels are procedurally generated, and in the demo, I was able to break into the security camera mainframe and task the devices to work for me. This meant that I wouldn't call down the full force of corp-sec by walking in the wrong spot. It also allowed me to see into rooms further along my path.
Unlike XCOM, the progression isn't just about getting from the beginning to the end. It's also about unlocking new teams of agents with different skills to work through the adventure. These are similar to FTL's different ships. The configurations might be different and the maps may change, but the main beats of the game are consistent.
Players are on a time limit (similar to FTL), and the building itself will go into an alarm state after a specified number of turns. Agents must move quickly and efficiently, taking out guards, freeing captive agents, and making their way to the exit. This is facilitated by a smart movement system.
Unlike most turn-based strategy games, players are not limited to one (or in the case of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, two) move phases. Instead, players can move agents up to their total move range in as many increments as they want. This allows agents to move close to doors, peer through, and then move through if safe.
Improvisation is a core element of Incognita, and the approach to movement facilitates that. Players will find themselves with far more flexibility and choice of approach in Incognita than they do in many other turn-based titles.
Incognita is shaping up to be a smart blend of roguelike, turn-based strategy, and stealth. There is still work to be done on the title, but Klei's latest is definitely on our radar. The beta is coming soon, with full release slated for 2014.