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The Invincible Review

As my eyes opened on the surface of Regis III, I found myself in the middle of a story that was already developing. The Invincible is a game based on a Polish Novel by the author Stanislaw Lem. Although not a one-on-one adaptation of the book, the game was made because the book ‘reads as a ready-made movie script’, and that is pretty much what you get when you play this game as well. Sometimes it feels like I’m just walking around on a movie set, without having any deep gameplay attached to it. The story is what should keep it interesting. Does it manage to succeed in that aspect? Find out in our The Invincible review.

The Astrobiologist

You are a highly qualified, sharp-witted astrobiologist named Yasna. Being entangled in a space race, you and your crew end up on the unexplored planet Regis III. The scientific journey quickly turns into a search and rescue mission for lost crewmates. As you follow its trail, you have to be fully aware that every decision you make can bring you closer to danger. 

The Invincible is a ‘walking simulator’ similar to Death Stranding, which arguably had gameplay elements that made the walking more interesting. You spend most of the game walking around and listening to the story. As you walk, you get dialogue options which can alter the tone of the conversation that you have with Novik.  Novik is the Astrogator of your research ship. Through these conversations, you learn more about the planet you are on, the reason you are there to begin with and it also goes into more philosophical topics. There are multiple dialogue options that you can pick from as well. If you feel like a story about space and futurology, this may be the game for you.

Frustrating exploration

Before I started, I thought that I would be a perfect fit for this game. I love space games and proper storytelling. However I did feel like I was let down on both fronts as I played the game. There are some story-telling crutches that are used a little too much for me, such as blackouts and memory loss. As you interact with new objects or locations, your memory returns to you and there are plenty of flashbacks to tell you more about what happened before.

Besides that, the exploration frustrated me pretty much from start to finish. It just takes such a long time to get to places and the geography often makes it unclear where you need to go, which left me moving around from place to place just wishing there was an auto-walk button. The walking is slow and so are some of the vaults and climbs that are performed. Running is certainly an option but you can only keep it up for a few seconds before your stamina runs out. Although a faster way of transportation is introduced later on in the story, it all still felt like a slog at times.

Excellent visuals

But perhaps that is not as problematic for you as it was for me. The game looks excellent most of the time and some areas are created for true space-nerds to geek out for a while. Besides that, I have to give extra credit for the soundtrack which is composed by Brunon Lubas who has also done work for Layers of Fear 2, Blair Witch and Vampire the Masquerade: Coteries of New York. The music seems to fit with the game excellently, giving you a sense of dread almost as you walk on this distant planet all by yourself. 

That doesn’t mean you won’t see a single other soul throughout your playthrough. The aforementioned flashbacks give you some story exposure and interactions with the other people from your mission. I won’t spoil what happens during the story, but for the most part you are either traveling alone or with (some very dumb) automatons. So most of the game plays similar to Firewatch. You walk around having to solve a mystery while a voice attempts to keep you on the right path and is a conversational partner. However, all of it felt too linear and simplistic. There are some small variations in the traversal of the game, but no interesting mechanics are introduced, no variety at all. I think I felt frustrated about the mechanics more than I ever felt interested in the rest of the game.

Beware of motion sickness

I also want to go back to where I said that the game looks mostly great. There are some beautiful vistas, but the game looks downright blurry when really looking at textures up close. Even when graphical settings have been set to high. As the game uses UE 4, it shows what the game manages to do with its limited size, as it still succeeded in having me gawk at the sights on multiple occasions throughout the story. I think it mostly succeeded in what it set out to do and I really had to focus on the limitations it had, because I never noticed any visual bugs or disappointments. I did read that quite a few people experienced motion sickness while playing so that is something you might want to look out for as well.

Conclusion

I managed to finish the game in well under nine hours. If the game wasn’t so agonizingly slow, I could have finished it in three. I know there are multiple endings but I don’t see myself returning to this game (or a potential sequel) in the future. It had a story to tell, I went through it but I don’t see a reason to check out the other endings. I actually felt that if the game was more similar to a Telltale game where I still had to make decisions but I didn’t have to go through the ‘slog’ of The Invincible, I would have liked it more. However, my experience is personal and your mileage may definitely vary. If the game left you wanting for more, I would personally recommend reading the book instead. My score for this game is low, but I will add the caveat that it could be a lot higher for you. 

Pros:

  • A story with enough depth that if it captures you, you can be hooked throughout
  • Some exciting vistas and an excellent soundtrack

Cons:

  • Not enough (variation in) gameplay
  • Agonizingly slow

Grade: 5

That was it for our The Invincble review. The Invincible is available through Boosteroid and GeForce Now. You can follow our Twitter account to stay up to date with the latest changes.