Impossible Creatures Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD



Once a developer has a popular IP or two under their belt, people tend to forget about their previous, less well-known releases. Take Bungie for example, whose Halo vastly overshadows, say, Marathon. Or perhaps the authors of Divinity: Original Sin, in whose case the mediocrity of their previous work got forgiven and forgotten really, really fast (and for good reason). The same thing happened to Relic Entertainment, who are extremely popular in strategy gamer circles for the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes series, both of which had proven highly lucrative and desirable. Thing is, their skill in RTS creation didn’t come from nothing, and the vast majority of their fans lost track of one of Relic’s previous offerings from the beginning of the century – Impossible Creatures.


A pack of Woyote versus some Ratoons.

In case some of you have consistently followed my features here at Mouse N Joypad, you’ll know I’m pro-change as far as most video-game genres are concerned. For RTS in particular, I embraced the direction Dawn of War 2 took the genre, with its focus on combat itself instead of base management. Having played Impossible Creatures however, I can’t help but notice just how nice it can be to play a good old classical real-time strategy title before all those level-up systems took over. Granted, it should definitely be noted that this is clearly an old game, and thus doesn’t necessarily hold up in every respect, such as graphics for example.

Now, don’t take this the wrong way… but Impossible Creatures is pretty ugly. For a game that’s been released on Steam in 2015 at the very least. It remains colourful and vivid though, with some nice animations and additional fluff that keeps it just relevant enough for the younger gamers to enjoy the experience. The game, thankfully, has the proper amount of whimsy to keep one visually entertained even though that perhaps shouldn’t be the case. Now, the audio side of things fares much better. For the most part, you’ll be hearing all the different growls and screeches of your poor mutant chimeras, but what voice-over there is, remains consistently interesting and engaging. Especially the dimwitted henchmen who serve the function of a builder unit in Impossible Creatures – their short quips always make me laugh and feel like a proper evil scientist. The soundtrack pops up rarely, but is fairly well-executed and fits the given moment, be it fiddling about with some genetic codes or pitting your Rhinocondas against the opposing Snapping Lions.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Impossible Creatures is as straightforward and streamlined as a real-time strategy could possible get. You begin any given mission with your headquarters in place and a pair of mooks to help you build it up. In campaign (the storyline is stellar for an RTS, by the way), a special unit is also spawned whose purpose I dare not reveal in as spoiler-free environment as this review is. From those basics, you build up a pre-spliced set of nine chimeras to win the match with. There are only two resources to keep an eye on: electricity, which is easily renewable and coal, which is limited and has to be mined by the henchmen. The interesting twist comes from the fact that coal gets mined really, really quickly, and you’re thus forced to branch out of the safety of the starting area. The steampunk sonic turrets help out in this regard, but it’s your impossible creatures who you’ll be relying on 90% of the time.


Another one of my lovely creations…

As I said, the first thing you’ll want to do upon kickstarting Impossible Creatures is go into the Army Builder and set up the very chimeras you’ll later be using in combat. If you’re anything like me, you’ll care very little about the requirements and statistics of your gene-spliced creatures at first, which means you’ll get an army of utterly awesome monsters who will likely be impossible to build and maintain, or will be useless. It took me a couple of minutes of staring dimwittedly at all the stats on offer to figure out what’s what, but who doesn’t enjoy a learning curve or two? You’ll be building competent armies in no time, is what I’m saying, and this is where the most of the game’s fun factor comes from.

You want a tank? Combine a snapping turtle to a sperm whale. Need a light and cheap harassment unit? Take a gerbil and stick a termite into it. Some highly specialized stealth units? Why not use the chameleon? There’s a lot of animals to combine, and even though you can only ever select two critters to splice, the amount of customization present here is staggering to say the least, especially for a game that’s as old as Impossible Creatures is. Remember that snapping sperm whurtle from the beginning of the paragraph (yes, I know you imagined the creature). Well, you can choose its extremities, what kind of a tail it has, the head design… and the rest of the model, stats, skills, cost and abilities all get altered and scale appropriately. To see this thirteen years after the game was released is a marvel, and one can only hope for a modern follow-up to be available sometime further down the line.

Aside from the graphics, the only gripe I have with this game lies in its overbearingly large UI, which doesn’t lend itself to certain situations – one of which is the creature builder interface, where selecting a new animal quickly becomes a chore. The stats are also not all that obviously listed, and may take a while before everything becomes clear. The UI is however a relic of the era in which the game was made, so I can look past that.

In conclusion, I can find no reason at all not to invest in Impossible Creatures. Not only is it dirt-cheap, but it’s also a wholly unique and enchanting title that easily grabs a hold of any real-time strategy aficionado. With an intriguing storyline, perfectly executed gameplay mechanics and some sweet customization options, the Steam release is a must, as it’s also painfully cheap. Even if you don’t enjoy playing RTS games, there’s a good chance Impossible Creatures will be an exception to the rule due to its innate charm. The fugly graphics will certainly put some people off though, but hey, at least you can run it on your grandma’s phone, right? A definitive recommendation.

This review was based on a code that was supplied to Mouse n Joypad by the Developer, Publisher or their PR Company. To see our full review breakdown please click here