The Invincible feels a little like a game of two halves: it could have ended half way and I’d have been satisfied. I’m glad it didn’t, though: this sci-fi thriller kept me entranced from star to finish.
Based on the book of the same name by Stanislaw Lem, The Invincible weaves a rich narrative that centres around a scientist searching for signs of life on another planet. The first time you meet her, something’s gone wrong: she’s alone on a planet known as Regis III, and she’s got to find the rest of the team to figure out what’s happened.
It sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the game: you never quite know what’s waiting for you around the next corner here. And while the type of game The Invincible is means you’re never really in danger, you certainly feel at risk from start to finish. The tension is palpable, and it makes for a truly thrilling adventure.
“The Invincible is truly stunning… Seriously, this is one of the nicest-looking games I’ve played this year – perhaps ever”
It helps that The Invincible is truly stunning. Seriously, this is one of the nicest-looking games I’ve played this year – perhaps ever. Developer Starward Industries isn’t a huge outfit, and so they’ve done incredible work on making a game that looks like this. From incredible vistas to sandy dunes, every location I’ve visited while playing has had me tapping away at the screenshot button on my controller. The rare interiors you come across while playing, too, are fantastically detailed: it’s just a shame that there wasn’t more interactivity in them.
Emphasis here really is on the story, and so playing The Invincible at times feels like a rather passive experience. The first few hours really does seem like a walking simulator, but the second half opens up a little more, giving you a small amount of freedom. It’s hardly open, but there are opportunities to poke around if you want to.
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Interestingly, there are also some choices that can be made while playing, leading to a branching narrative. Not every playthrough will be identical, and the decisions you make will affect the outcome of the game. Some of those decisions really carry weight, and thanks to the excellent voice acting of protagonist Yasna, you’ll quickly come to care for her. Other voice acting – including Yasna’s captain, who you’re in constant contact with over the radio – is excellent too, helping bring this fantastical world to life.
Perhaps one of my favourite things about The Invincible is the War of the Worlds-style machines you’ll come across while exploring. These man-made robots have been brilliantly designed, evoking the feel of mid-century sci-fi: somehow both old-fashioned and futuristic in one. I couldn’t help but approach every one with an air of caution: as much as I wanted to get up close to admire them, their very nature puts you on edge. Like I said, you do never quite know what the game has in store for you.
“The Invincible has just about everything one could ask for in a sci-fi thriller: robots, the unknown, a foreboding sense of unease.”
Taking around eight hours to complete, The Invincible is well-paced for the most part. I said earlier it felt a little like a game of two halves, and there’s a point it could have ended after only a couple of hours. It’s a little disjointing, but ultimately the second half is where things really get into their stride. There’s much more to Regis III than meets the eye.
The Invincible has just about everything one could ask for in a sci-fi thriller: robots, the unknown, a foreboding sense of unease. Add to that some absolutely breath-taking visuals and you’ve got an adventure that’s hard to put down. Starward Industries has created something rather wonderful here, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.