Impossible Creatures from Relic Studios brings out your inner mad scientist. It gives you the chance to create animal hybrids that serve as units in a battle to stop a crazy military commander from using these creatures to take over the world. Experimenting with the countless combinations available in Impossible Creatures will keep players in the game, and the multiplayer fields offer a great space to explore the possibilities while destroying friends’ armies. The game’s campaign mode focuses on the story of how these creatures came to be but carries this story through unoriginal material.
The year is 1937. Rex Chance receives a letter from his father, infamous scientist Eric Chanikov, who went missing 30 years ago after a devastating explosion. In this letter, Dr. Chanikov invites his son to his laboratory on a remote island. When Rex arrives, his father is nowhere to be seen. But his father’s companion, crazy military commander Upton Julius, attacks Rex with his pack of animal hybrids. At the last minute, Rex is saved by his father’s research partner who explains that the creatures are the product of Sigma technology, created by Rex’s father and herself. Rex sets out after that to find and reconnect with his father, all the while having to work to stop Julius from using his father’s animal-fusion technology to take over the world.
The plot of Impossible Creatures feels recycled. In particular, the campaign story comes across as if it could be the story for the next Indiana Jones movie. The sci-fi/adventure combination, the historical setting and a military leader who sets out to take over the world with his eclectic entourage (and who looks more than a little WWII-esque) all come together to give the game the feeling of an Indiana Jones videogame adaptation. Though most of the material feels unoriginal, information about Dr. Chanikov and his son Rex’s past does reveal an interesting sub-plot that recovers a layer of interest for the game.
Impossible Creatures offers an incredible amount of unit customization through the animal combination process. To build a new unit, the player chooses the DNA of two different species of animal. Each animal has unique stats that, when combined with another animal’s stats, determine the characteristics of the final hybrid. In campaign mode, Rex collects animal DNA samples from the wild animals found in each mission. This means that as the game progresses, the player finds more DNA samples. In multiplayer, players can choose from pre-made armies of creatures or use all of the game’s available animals to create a custom army. Once the player has chosen two animals, they will choose which parts of the animals are going to be used for the final product. Go ahead and put that frog’s head on that mountain lion’s body. Give a snake the wings of an eagle. Certain abilities are associated with certain body parts, so that frog’s head may give the hybrid an ability that it wouldn’t have if it just had the frog’s legs. This means that players can spend a lot of time experimenting with new creature combinations, and they also have that much more reason to try out different combinations of abilities as well.
For a game that originally came out in 2002, the remastered visuals of Impossible Creatures hold up to other PC games available. Every unique creature that the player can create is clearly visible on the map, and zooming in reveals even more detail on the creatures. The creature combination screen is well-structured so that a system that could be confusing for the player is easy to figure out. One noticeable issue with visuals is the size of the screen that shows the world map. A menu and mini-map at the bottom of the screen take up a lot of space and this results in less room to manage units and keep an eye on what is happening on the world map. There is the option of zooming out, but even then the camera doesn’t zoom out far enough to give a clear picture of anything more than a small area which could be frustrating while trying to manage units or keep an eye on a base.
If building a creature that has a giraffe’s head on a frog’s body sounds fun to you, Impossible Creatures should hop its way into your library soon. Expect a fun multiplayer experience that offers an exciting amount of creativity, Just don’t expect much of an exciting plot out of the campaigns.