Based upon the 1964 book of the same name by Stanislaw Lem, The Invincible sends players on a sci-fi expedition that focuses more on telling a tantalising story as opposed to blasting away at aliens. It’s more Firewatch than Dead Space, so if you’re not into narrative-driven experiences with a slower pace, it might not be for you. But if that does sound like your idea of a good time? You’re in for a real treat.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The Invincible sees players stepping into the shoes of Yasna, an astrobiologist who finds herself stranded from her crew on the mysterious unexplored planet of Regis III during an expedition of space discovery. With her memory a little frazzled and plenty of peculiar sights to see on the planet, she has to venture forward and unravel the secrets of Regis III – all whilst making challenging decisions that will determine how the story ends.
Admittedly, I never read the book that the game is based upon, so a lot of the technical sci-fi theming went over my head. Don’t get me wrong, the narrative is easy to grasp and you can break most aspects of the story down into a simplified manner, but it’s also very clever and creative with its technical aspects too. It’s certainly enjoyable to see unfold though, and with plenty of mysteries to get to the bottom of along the way, it’s easy to find yourself fully invested in Yasna’s plight.
It’s a good job too, because The Invincible is one of those games that’s best described as a ‘walking simulator’. It’s not a term that I’m that fond of, yet it’s one that best fits the kind of experience you’re going to get from the game. Whilst there is the occasional puzzle to solve and there’s a heavy emphasis on exploration (you’ll even get to drive at times so maybe it’s not ALL walking), the core of the experience is built around Yasna’s emphatic sense of discovery, her observations on the sights that fascinate her, and, of course, her fear when things start going awry. But don’t worry, I won’t spoil any of that here.
“There’s the occasional set piece that ramps up the tension, there are puzzling moments that’ll require the use of some retro sci-fi style tools, and there are decisions you make that can feel a bit daunting, so there’s plenty going on to ensure that the experience never drags as you progress through the story.”
It’s actually a little tricky to write about The Invincible without spoiling too much, because the game’s most interesting moments that I *want* to mention are best to be discovered by the player. There’s the occasional set piece that ramps up the tension, there are puzzling moments that’ll require the use of some retro sci-fi style tools, and there are decisions you make that can feel a bit daunting, so there’s plenty going on to ensure that the experience never drags as you progress through the story. I just don’t want to go into depth about it all here. Just know that it all comes together to make The Invincible really satisfying to play, with these moments balancing out the slower pace of the storytelling.
One thing I am happy to reveal is that the game is wonderful to look at. Regis III is fascinating to explore thanks to its wondrous sights, and whilst it is a desolate planet in design, it’s conveyed in a beautiful way that always looks impressive in-game. It’s incredibly atmospheric, whilst some clever use of colour gives off a really… well… retro sci-fi vibe. The book was written in 1964, and in a way that’s hard to describe, it feels like the game’s aesthetic captures the vibe of the world’s idea of what exploring a mysterious planet in the 1960s would look like.
Plus, it has a really clever feature where it re-tells your story in a comic book-style if you want to retread your experience so far. It covers everything that has happened (including the choices you make), so it’s something cool to check out when you do further playthroughs to see how things could have gone differently. Admittedly, my second playthrough showed that some of the decisions you make don’t always have a MASSIVE effect on how things pan out, but with different endings on offer based upon your actions, there’s definitely a reason to re-visit The Invincible.
Check out some screenshots down below:
As a fan of ‘walking simulators’, I’m happy to add The Invincible to the list of those that completely absorbed me into their storytelling. That’s not to say that it’s perfect though, with a few little hiccups occurring during my playthrough. Whilst there was nothing too severe, seeing textures not load in properly in some sequences could ruin the game’s slick presentation, whilst there was another occasion where I had to re-load because one of my tools wasn’t functioning properly. It’s nothing game-breaking, but it was still a little annoying. It’s also worth noting that the movement speed could feel a little slow in places, especially with Regis III’s expansive size, but that’s something you get used to the longer you play.
The Invincible Review
The Invincible is a wondrous retro sci-fi escapade that’ll hook players in with its intriguing story and gorgeous presentation. It’s hard to talk about all of the things I liked about it without giving away too many little spoilers for players, but with plenty of surprises to encounter as you shape your story on Regis III, it’s easy to find yourself fully invested in Yasna’s journey.
It did suffer from a few technical hiccups during my time playing and I’d be lying if I said the movement speed wasn’t a little bit slower than I’d like, but they’re minor issues in what is otherwise an alluring sci-fi experience.
Developer: Starward Industries
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, PC