I’m a huge fan of science fiction games, even more so if they are in a retro-future setting. So, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to try out “The Invincible,” a first-person, single-player sci-fi thriller set in a retro-future timeline.
Ever since the first trailer for The Invincible dropped a few months ago, it looked intriguing. Okay, so its retro sci-fi style isn’t anything new in games, but it looked fascinating because it appeared to play seriously instead of for laughs.
Well, I finally was able to spend some time with the playable demo build, and while it remains interesting due to its mystery, it also reveals what kind of game it is.
The game casts you in the role of Yansa, a scientist sent on a mission to explore the unknown planet of Regis III. What started as an expedition of discovery quickly becomes a rescue mission and investigation, as she and her companion (over her headset) try to discover what happened to cause the demise of the previous crew. As she does this, she starts to uncover strange phenomena that leads her deeper into the planet’s mystery.
Basically, like many of these types of games, you start on a planet, and you’re looking at a map to chart your course through the pathways to meet the convoy. As you talk about each route, the game gives you the chance to chime in with a few responses to your partner, but none of the choices lock you into that course of action.
After you take the car (or walking to the site), you discover a broken robot and attempt to figure out what happened based on photographs of important milestones. You then explore a cave to check out the metallic plants within before exiting to chase after a stray robot. A near-disaster ends the demo.
And while there’s enough here to explain why the convoy was lost, and provide an idea of what other calamities players will face when the full game drops.
I must say, out of all of the things shown in the demo, it is the idea of using retro-futuristic tools that stands out as being the most interesting part of the adventure. There’s a small car that looks like it was ripped out of smaller European countries yet modified for space use.
The bulky shapes of the human-like robots stands out among the spherical nature of the other types. There’s the novelty of using lights to determine location and photographic slides instead of actual video. It’s both quaint yet plausible if you took the late 1960s as the launching point for space travel. The lack of fantastical elements makes this feel grounded.
However, it must be stated that the demo is essentially a walking simulator. This isn’t meant to be a derogatory term, but it’s the best way to describe how most of the game is played out. The dialogue choices provide some variety, but the actions taken thus far are always the same.
You’ll have to play around with different viewing tools, and various notes are taken whenever you encounter anything interesting, but there’s not much else to do. Most actions involve hitting a hotspot and having the game go through the motions for you. There is a good chance that this might change later on in the game, but you should be aware of what you’re getting into in case that doesn’t come to pass.
It also must be stated that this is a very early demo, so we would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the issues we encountered while playing it. Trying to exit the demo led us to a questionnaire that was completely in Polish, so exiting the game meant trying to guess which button was the command to leave and which subsequent button confirmed your choice.
Another small red flag were the frequent crashes that caused several replays due to the lack of save states. One issue that we hope gets addressed is the finicky nature of some of the hotspots; there are times when the interactive spot wasn’t going to be visible unless you have the camera at just the right angle, leading to frustration early on when someone may be trying to enter the car to reach their destination.
But we must be patient. As it stands, The Invincible is an intriguing title. The idea of a game set with hard science boundaries hasn’t been attempted before, and it’s based on an obscure book that not many outside of Poland or hardcore sci-fi fans may know.
I think there’ a lot of excitement in seeing something that’s considered really new. There’s plenty of time before the game is released, and it will be interesting to see if this ends up being more than the walking simulator in the demo build.