Can pioneering classic science fiction adapt to modern gaming? Set off in our The Invincible review.
Science Fiction is relegated these days to that of fantasy or an unlikely future. However, at its core and from its inception, sci-fi is a place where you can explore technology and the human condition. It can show possible futures or ideas that can be turned into reality.
That’s no moon… oh wait, yes it is.
One such example of this is The Invincible, which is also based on one of the earliest sci-fi novels of the same name. Newcomers Starward Industries took great inspiration from the Polish Author, Stanislaw Lem, who was the first to create some certain notions and ideas that are still around in sci-fi media today.
I thought I parked my spaceship right next to that lava pool.
Whilst these are great ideas, to mention them now would be to give away a part of the story and ending for this game. The Invincible is more of a Telltale type game with emphasis on the story and the mystery of the planet you find yourself on. So does science trump fiction or does sci-fi remain invincible? Find out in our The Invincible review!
The Invincible Review – Story
As stated before, this game is based upon an 1964 book, The Invincible, which does not directly reproduce it but rather offers a prequel insight to heighten the overall story. As this is above all else a narrative driven game, only a brief oversight of the story will be given here to avoid spoilers.
If you forget what happened previously at any time you can be reminded with these cool comic strips.
You play as Doctor Yasna, part of a scientific team from the commonwealth out to explore planets. She wakes to find herself isolated from her crew, on a barren planet, her last memory was that of being put to sleep in a stasis pod. Over the 6 or 7 hour playthrough, the narrative gets you to choose certain actions that changes the outcome of the game. There are also several different endings that you can unlock with some requiring another whole playthrough.
The truth is here.
There are a lot of tense moments as you explore different areas of the planet. Some objectives require you to find information or track something down using a detector. There is also plenty of dialogue, but it is mostly very engaging. Yasna must locate her missing crew with barely any equipment or weapons as she comes to face the reality that the planet of Regis III may not be so barren afterall…
The Invincible Review – Gameplay
Whilst there isn’t a whole lot of variety of gameplay, there is certainly enough to keep things interesting. Some parts of the game require you to use different tools to find your way or an item you’re looking for. Although there is no combat as such, there is a cool mission that features you controlling some canons.
Even the data from probes feature a retro futuristic aesthetic.
Exploring Regis III is predominantly on foot, which sometimes can seem a bit tedious if you aren’t impressed by the awe inspiring views. However, around half way into the game you have access to a rover which you use to cover bigger distances to further progress the story. This is mostly used to change up the gameplay and it is more than welcome after spending a few hours wandering around on foot.
I hope my insurance is up to date…
The best part of The Invincible is the minimalistic HUD which allows for greater immersion. With no way points, or any kind of markers on screen, you basically have to use your dairy, containing a map, to find your way on this desolate planet.
Some dangerous terrain requires some Mission Impossible type stunts.
The Invincible Review – Visuals
Although the planet you explore is supposedly barren, the scenery and varying landscapes are amazingly put together. There are a good handful of locations you can explore, from incredible mountain ranges to blue seas, caves of darkness and a city of metal, all to please your visual senses.
Wow, the housing crisis is getting serious!
As The Invincible novel was written in the mid 1960s, the technology that is described in the book and also shown in this game is a retro futuristic style with many nobs, switches and blinking lights. Even the binoculars and metal detector Yansa uses are of similar design and works quite well in the overall portrayal and presentation of the game.
So many levers and switches…
The Invincible Review – Audio
Another key part to this journey is the ambient soundtrack to encompass the ever building tension Yasna always seems to find herself in. Produced by Brunon Lubas (Layers of Fear 2), these otherworldly tunes are a mixture between synth and classical that heightens your experience on Regis III.
In space nobody except yourself can hear you talk, which is quite prominent here. Yasna self narrates her journey through the majority of the game including an occasional humming or singing in some of the more quiet moments of the story.
There is also your astrogator, Novik, who is still in orbit that you contact quite a lot plus a few other characters, like your crew in several flashbacks. Yasna and Novik have great dialogue and chemistry to go along with the exceptional sounds.
I don’t like sand, it’s course and irritating and it’s everywhere on this planet!
The Invincible Review – What Else?
Unfortunately, as this is quite the straightforward chronicle, there is not much else to do during the game. You get given a few chances to explore some areas with the only items to find are some notes containing slight backstory that rarely adds to the overall experience.
Will you be able to find your way home?
For trophy/achievement hunters, there are quite a lot of missable trophies and some you can’t even attain in the same playthrough. At least 2 different fully completed games are required to nab those pesky trophies with some assistance from a guide to save time.
The mystery of Regis III only begins with these metal structures.
The Invincible Review – Conclusion
“Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.” – Isaac Asimov
The Invincible is a stunning narrative that takes you to the edge of science fiction. Exploring a desolate planet feels isolating, yet the tension almost never wavers. With an unpredictable story and great characters this is for any sci-fi fan or anyone who wants an in depth tale of survival, exploration and pushing the barriers of the unknown.
I think I left my swimsuit on my other spaceship.
So, why should you play The Invincible?
- Enjoy sci fi or narrative based games
- Want to play something different
- Amazing scenery
But why shouldn’t you play The Invincible?
- Fairly straight forward
- Nothing to do aside from following the story
- You don’t enjoy games with a lot of dialogue to listen to
A review code on PlayStation 5 was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our The Invincible review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review for more sci-fi goodness and join us on the Qualbert Discord to chat about all things sci-fi!