I never played Death Stranding. But I’ve heard some people jokingly refer to it as a walking simulator.
The Invincible, in a nutshell, is more or less the same thing. Set in first-person, you’re in control of astrobiologist Yasna. You and your crew arrive on the planet Regis III. However, things turn sour pretty quickly, as most of your crew is lost. Your goal is to try and find these lost team members and see if they survived or not. Mostly you’re in isolation, as the planet – with design inspired by 1950s illustrations of what the future might be – is desolate, and the only person that’s helping to keep your sanity intact is Novik, who Yasna refers to as “the Astrogator.” Novik communicates to her via the telecom that’s attached to her helmet. Yasna will regularly report on what she discovers to him along her journey.
The game – inspired by the novel with the same name, written by Polish futurologist Stanisław Lem – is developed by Starward Industries and published by 11 Bit Studios. It’s the first game developed by the team, but it is composed of 30+ individuals who have previously worked on such titles as Dying Light, Layer of Fear 2, and The Witcher 3.
See, this is one of those games where it’s difficult to talk about the story without getting into spoilers. And believe me, the review guide I was supplied with was very specific about what I can and can’t talk about, so I don’t ruin the story for those who might be interested in trying this game out. Let’s just put it this way: as I had mentioned earlier, the game is set in first-person. There might be a big threat to humanity’s survival. The planet, Regis III, kind of looks like Mars. And there’s a lot of walking. After walking for a bit, you’ll come across areas of interest. Robots. Bases where there may or may not be a dead body. Maps of undiscovered locations. Letters. Lost crew members. Lots of back-and-forth talking between Yasna and Novik with an accent. Maybe an opposing faction. You get the idea.
Along her journey, Yasna will make use of her map to keep track of where she’s located and where she needs to go next. She can also make use of a tracker that will help her pinpoint a particular area of interest. Her detector will assist in finding unnatural traces of metal that are “growing” in the rocks and crevices of the canyons she explores. Binoculars will allow her to see things from afar and report to Novik what she’s observing.
The game is pretty casual and story-rich, with some subtle horror elements, depending on the decisions you make. There will be a lot of situations in which you can choose what Yasna will say to Novik or other NPCs that she may come across. Sometimes the time you are given to choose a response is limited. Other times you have no choice but to choose a response – which, in turn, will affect Yasna’s outcome for the good or bad. You might even temporarily lose contact with Novik, thus leaving Yasma with less and less of her sanity intact, as she won’t have a single human being to talk to.
I would have been fine with the constant walking if she could just sprint as long as she could. When she sprints, she’ll only do so for about ten seconds, and then she starts panting and stops running. You’ll see her breath emanate on her helmet. While it’s a pretty neat effect, after a while it just gets annoying. There are big distances to cross on her bare feet, and it would make the constant walking a little easier to bare if she could just sprint indefinitely. I suppose there had to be at least some realism to this game. Later on you’ll come across vehicles to use, so, it’s not all that bad, I guess.
The game takes about 5-6 hours to finish. I’m not going to lie, there are some parts to the story where it gets a bit dry and there’s mostly talking without any action. Yasna will have occasional flashbacks, and while some of these can be boring as well, thankfully you can skip them. Other times the story gets more interesting. She might have hallucinations. She might have a machine pointing a laser right at her. She might only have one final, thin strand left before she loses hope and gives up on her search for her crew members – and maybe even her own life.
I think I’ve spoiled enough of the story as is. So, I’ll stop here. Overall it’s not that bad of a game, but I kind of feel like this could have just been a movie adaptation instead of a video game. While there are decisions to make that can affect Yasna’s outcome, the game is still casual enough. There are some interesting plots along the way, but I feel like there could have been more interesting moments. Like, less talking, less walking, and more action.
Steam Deck Compatibility⌗
No issues as far as Steam Deck compatibility. It runs out-of-the-box with Proton 8.0-4. All cutscenes are rendered inside Unreal 4, so there are no video playback issues. FPS generally hovers around 40-50 on the highest settings at native resolution when there isn’t a TDP or GPU clock speed limit. Resolution can be set all the way down to 1024 x 768, but the image is going to be a bit blurry.
Not Bad If You Want A Casual Game⌗
If you want to take a break from the Souls-like games out there, and want to pick something up that you can play casually and unwind from the stress of the day while listening to an interesting story, The Invincible isn’t a bad choice. I’m not a fan of the constant walking, and there are some moments in the game that are a bit dull and could have been filled with more action instead of talking. And the exploration wouldn’t be as much of a chore if Yasna could just sprint indefinitely. Still, there are more good moments than bad. You might even get on the edge of your seat a few times. So I still do think it’s worth picking up.
- story-rich with different choices to make
- the game should keep you interested enough until you reach the epilogue
- great if you’re looking for a casual game that’s purely focused on story-telling
- some dull moments where there’s too much talking and not enough action
- sprinting is only temporary and would make exploring easier if it could last forever
The Invincible will be available on Steam November 6th. In the meantime you can try out the demo if you want to get a taste of the story.
Review key provided by Evolve PR.