The Inca series is a weird one to categorise. I first came to know them as adventure games - at least that's what Home of the Underdogs described them as - but there's just as much action. Perhaps even more so. It is set firmly in an ancient Inca setting, yet a large portion takes place in space with all of the futuristic sci-fi trappings. So which kind of game is it?
The schizophrenic conception does make for a memorable experience. There are many new age mythologies surrounding the Inca Empire and advanced technology. The infamous Nazca lines are referred to as "runways" by theorists with a little too much imagination and the mountaintop placement of Machu Picchu's intricate city has stumped many historians. Do they prove what they call the Ancient Astronaut theory? The answer is a resounding no, but it makes for an interesting base for a story.
The first game begins with some guffins about a prophecy complete with barely-pronouncable Incan words. All you really need to know is that you are a warrior named El Dorado tasked with traveling between planets and exploring Mayan ruins while fighting the evil Aguirre of the Spanish Armada.
Unlike most adventure games, Inca is separated by distinguishable levels. The action segments play similarly to LucasArts' Rebel Assault with the occasional pre-rendered background video and simple gameplay. The second level is even an obvious homage to Star Wars' trench run on the Death Star. To further add to the action game feel, you are given a limited number of lives and a password system instead of a save game ability.
The adventure elements fare much better taking place in the first person. They are often inventory based and self contained within each level. This doesn't allow for much scope that a sole adventure games would allow, but the level structure does increase a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately these elements are the easiest part of the game. When I was stuck, I found it due to the twitch-based controls required for the action sequences.
The sequel retains the same concept of a level based action adventure hybrid. I found it far more enjoyable than the first, even though it is ultimately easier. To begin with the esoteric mysticism has largely been sidelined resulting in a stronger narrative. You are no longer El Dorado, but his spoiled son named Atahualpa who is determined to be involved with his father's Incan council. He's a sniveling brat with a whiney voice and a misplaced sense on importance. He offends everybody he meets and even begins a war with some hot-tempered aliens. Not your average leading man. In fact he bring far more comedy to the proceedings. His judgmental stare may pierce deep in your soul...
...but he's a bit shit at hide and seek.
While all elements of the game have improved, the biggest change is in the option of how you want to play the game. At the beginning, you are tasked with proving yourself to join the council. To do this, you have to pass one of two tasks - wisdom or force. Depending on which task you decide on, the action or adventure elements will be more pronounced during your play-through.
The graphics for both games are pretty good for the early 90s, with digitised actors in both titles. While the definitive version of both are the CD versions, each also had a floppy release. This means that the cutscenes are often limited to static screens rather that full motion video. The extra space on the CD allows for full speech and a far higher quality soundtrack. In fact the soundtrack is perhaps the best thing about the games. The first game even has a soft-rock anthem playing over the opening credits. The heavy use of pan pipes tells you how gloriously cheesey it is.
Everything about these games are contradictory. The action elements are at odds with the adventuring. The science-fiction is jarringly anachronistic to the history. Yet despite this and the unintentionally hilarious art and design choices, they are games that I highly recommend, even as a devout adventure gamer.
To download the Inca or Inca 2, follow the links below. These custom installers exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. MP3 Soundtrack included with Inca 1. Manual and Hint Book included for both games. Tested on Windows 7 and Windows 10.
Download Inca 2: Wiracocha
Inca & Inca II: Wiracocha are © Coktel Vision
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me