The Invincible developed by polish development studio Starward Industry and published by 11bit studios is an adventure game in the style of Fire Watch and based on the novel of the same name written by Stanislaw Lem.
Being one of the most popular writers of hard science fiction Stanislaw Lems work comprises detailed explanation on the scientific background of the worlds he created, aiming to create an alien world but still explainable by the means of physics, biology, and natural science as known to us. The game successfully follows this approach.
The Invincible you play Dr. Yasna, a biologist exploring the surface of planet Regis III as part of a space exploration mission. Unexplainable phenomena let you lose contact to the rest of your crew. Your first goal is to find your fellow crew members and find out what happens to them and unravel the mysteries happening on Regis III.
The big star of the game is the planet itself. The developers did a great job in creating a visual impressive scenery of the rock desert planet and the view to the stars with intense colors and a unique art-style fitting the retro science fiction setting. You explore Regis III in ego perspective in a mostly linear fashion, but you must make certain decisions at some points influencing the further course of the game and even the final ending. Besides walking on the plant surface at some points a space rover can be used for getting along faster. A metal detector helps you at certain points in the game and you have a communication device for locating other crew members. However, those gadgets add only limited game play possibilities and are not the focus of the game. The core of The Invincible is the narrative and dialogs of Yasna with Novik, the leader of the mission, called the Astrogator. As in Fire Watch most of the time you are in contact with him via radio. He guides you to the next mission, discusses on the findings you make and at certain points even more philosophical discussions are raised. In your role multiple choice answers allow you to agree or disagree with him, guide the discussion into a different direction or just remain silent by not selecting an answer. The dialogs feel natural in terms of writing and voice acting and contribute heavily to the atmosphere, for example when Yasna and Novik discuss multiple minutes about the theory of the evolution of the flora and fauna on Regis III. Those moments are clear highlight for hard science fiction fans.
The plot of the game is very well integrated around the original story of the book. The decisions and multiple endings are a clear incentive for another playthrough, especially as the consequences of decisions in dialogues are not too obvious. In the last 1-2 hour before the end of the game the story was lacking a bit behind the good first hours as it was mostly just driving from point A to B and back. Personally, I wish the use of the metal detector and other devices would have made the game more interactive or even could have been used to create some more challenging puzzles.
Alongside the great design and graphics for the environment the character models and faces lack a bit behind, which is not a big issue as most of the time you will explore the planet on your own. Sound effects are used moderately to create immersion and concentrate on the sound of Yasna’s footsteps when wearing the heavy space suite and the sound of her breathing inside the helmet. On one occasion a sound glitch let to sound effects of the rover being played wrongly which may be fixed by a patch already.
The Invincible is a good narrative space story capturing very well the spirit of Stanislaw Lem’s novel with well written dialogs and an outstanding voice cast. Excellent art design and visuals of the planet Regis III compensate for some weaknesses in the story and limited gameplay.
- excellent art style and visuals of the planet surface and skyline
- setting of the novel well transferred into the game
- hard science fiction approach consequently preserved
- decisions with real impact
- story loses a bit of drive in last hour before finale
- existing gameplay elements (like metal detector) not consequently used
- some sound glitches
“A consequent adaption of the novel makes The Invincible a must have for fans of hard Sci-Fi experiences despite some weaknesses in the story and limited gameplay element.”
Sources: Screenshots and Videos: own screen captures