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Preview: ‘Incision’ — you got your Cronenberg in my retro shooter!

In the crowded world of retro shooters, Incision, even in early access, is finding new ways to stand out in the crowd.

With Realms Deep 2022 wrapped up and slumbering in its sarcophagus until next year, we are knee neep in the boomer shooters. I sometimes remember Newblood founder, meme-lord and CEO Dave Oshry, commenting on Twitter, sometime around 2020, that if you were just starting on a new retro shooter it was “too late.” At the time, I worried he was right — Dusk and Amid Evil had exploded, and Ultrakill was looking to dominate the field as well. Was there much room left for further contenders? Well, I’m happy to report that for now, at least, he was off the mark. 

Incision is among the latest early access retro shooters on the market, and having followed the dev on Twitter for some time, I was taken with its aesthetic. It sorta looks like Dusk, but more… meaty. 

After the surprising and brutal release of Hyper Demon, following closely behind Ultrakill‘s latest new act, I was longing for a more methodical experience out of a shooter. Incision provides, being moodier and, while not ‘slow’ by any stretch, a bit more of a relaxed experience. I worry sometimes I won’t be able to keep up with the ever-increasingly fast-paced murderfests of today, and I’m grateful when a solid, well-paced experience like this rolls around.

Screenshot via Hyperstrange

Incision drops the player into an apartment complex being overtaken by flesh. Your first weapon is a revolver with an incredible alt-fire that grants bonus damage when shot when stylishly spinning it. It’s the best kind of starter gun — one that remains useful throughout the entire experience. You’re also given a fantastic melee weapon, sort of like the Whirligig saw from Bloodborne. You can use it to grind up corpses on the battlefield, for fun at first, and to charge up a special weapon (think Doom 3’s Soul Cube) later. 

While somewhat simple, I love Incision’s arsenal. What I love even more are its enemy designs: thiccbois wearing hazmat suits, weird spider dudes, and a collection of other fleshly death dealers. 

The aesthetics are overall pretty great. There’s some tasteful dithering to give everything this “gritty” look I love. The music is tasteful and subdued — a far cry from the industrial-style instrumentation the genre so heavily leans on. It’s more Boards of Canada than Rammstein. A more subdued atmosphere also breeds the perfect environment for horror: you’re powerful, sure, but who wouldn’t fear the denizens of an atmosphere-scraping spinal cord citadel?

Screenshot via Hyperstrange

The whole look of the game reminds me a lot of the level Erebus Reactor in Dusk, which I’m almost certain was an inspiration. The rust and blood palette interspersed with bright oranges and yellows is striking, even if some of the environments begin to blend together a bit visually. I was basing my internal compass almost entirely on vibes rather than visual landmarks most of the time, but clever design (usually) prevented me from getting too lost.

Finally, a quick shout-out to eviscerating stuff as a means of progression. Keys? Boring. Excising a giant tumor with the swing of your hacksaw? Awesome. Swing away and watch half the map slough away, demolishing a building and clearing a path forward.

I’m eagerly awaiting more Incision, and it’s on my short list of great upcoming shooters. It’s a blessing and a curse that we’re so inundated with so many new titles (my Steam wishlist currently has eleven upcoming retro shooters on it). The competition is fierce, and finding the diamonds in the rough isn’t as easy as it was three years ago, but we’re lucky to have great platforms for developers to show their stuff. If you’re in the mood for some rare meat, Incisionis in Early Access on Steam now.

This preview is based on the PC version of the game. A code was provided by Hyperstrange.

About the author

David Morgan