The Invincible

The Invincible Review: A Stunning Sci-Fi Adventure Based on a Classic Novel

It’s not often a game comes out and I look at the cover thinking “I know that book”, but that’s exactly what happened when The Invincible was announced. So, of course, I needed to play it. And it’s also Steam Deck verified, which is always a delight.

The Invincible is adapted from the novel of the same name, written by the Polish science fiction writer, Stanislaw Lem. The game’s storyline is set in the 22nd century where a team of explorers lands on the planet Regis III. However, the planet is home to hostile and mysterious life forms that the team must face. You play as Yasna as you work to uncover the mysteries of Regis III and your missing team members.

The Invincible Novel

You can’t talk about this game without first mentioning the novel. Written in 1964, it was one of the first novels to explore the ideas of microbots, smartdust and artificial swarm intelligence and necroevolution – a term suggested by Lem for the evolution of non-living matter.

Whilst the storyline of the game largely follows the book, the main characters, including Yasna, are original – there were no female characters in the book. There’s a nice caveat in that the developers have said it’s more a prequel to the book, which works. But that still leaves some inconsistencies with how the microbots behave. Although, if you’re viewing this as a prequel, you can put it down to slight evolution when the book is set. They’re robots. They’d evolve much faster than biological life.

One of the major differences is that there are no survivors of The Condor crew in the book. In the game, there are some that Yasna finds. Which, again, can be explained away by it being a prequel.

There’s also the possibility that you want to view this as it’s own separate entity. Ignore the book entirely. And there is one ending where that would be the case, as if it’s a prequel, then the book simply can’t happen as it does. So maybe this is a multiverse thing. Following it as its own entity also makes sense, as there are lines of dialogue ripped directly from the book, suggesting that maybe this isn’t a prequel and it is, in fact, an updated version of the book for a more modern audience. I suppose it depends on whether you want to make up your own narrative or accept that it’s a prequel.

the invincible shock

The Game

The game is a first-person adventure that combines exploration, survival, and combat. The game also features a branching storyline that depends on the player’s choices and actions.

There’s a slight disappointment in that there’s no real danger. This is a story-driven game. You can’t just walk off a cliff and die. You can walk to the edge and then can walk no further. Jumping isn’t an option. You can climb at certain points only. There were times I missed a little bit of danger, but on the whole, I was here for the journey, so I didn’t mind. I quite like games where I can pick it up now and again and just play without having to remember combat controls.

You can make choices throughout that determine how the story unfolds. Some don’t seem as key as they could be. I remember one choice where I had two choices, and a minute later, I got an achievement for what the other choice said to do. Or maybe if I picked that other choice it would have actually resulted in something else. I’ll play through it again sometime to check. But I do know that some choices matter, so there’s definite replayability here.

You can take your time and take in the sights of a beautifully crafted world. There is plenty to explore, and you could complete it in a few hours if you don’t just look around like I did.

I do wish there was something a little extra, though. Some puzzles that require some thought, maybe. I mentioned survival and combat. The game explores the theme of survival, and Yasna does come into “danger” without the actual threat of your character dying. And combat? Again, it explores the theme more than having actual combat. There’s one part where you do get to fire a weapon, but it seemed kind of pointless, honestly. It added no value to the game.

The Invincible slide

A visual delight

The game is a stunning visual and auditory experience that immerses the player in the alien world of Regis III. There are some incredibly realistic and detailed scenes that capture the beauty and danger of the planet.

With the player’s binoculars, you can really take your time taking in the beautiful planet. There’s so much to look at and admire. The only problem is that sometimes you can’t focus them properly to really see. For the most part, though, you can really enjoy an incredibly well-crafted world.

The only problem with this is that your astrogator, Novak, occasionally tells you that it’s good you’re taking a rest. Just let me enjoy the peace of looking around.

There are some delightful comic scenes too. Mainly with looking at slides instead of video playback. And there’s a comic book built into the game following the story too. I loved reading this, and it’s very well done.

To maintain the style of the books era, there are some beautiful stylistic choices that I adore. The designs have a nice retro feel to them. There are also some really low-tech items, such as the tracker that has no screen and is made up of flashing lights in a circle. Additionally, there are robots that show a higher level of technology. This is part of the reason why I love old sci-fi. Whenever people ask me why, I usually mention Issac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy as an example. They came up with some really wonderful things back then, but there were spaceships communicating via fax. I don’t know why I love it so much, but I just do.

the invincible tracker

Conclusion

The Invincible is a must-play game for sci-fi fans and book lovers, as it offers a rich and immersive experience that challenges and entertains the player. The game is a masterpiece of adaptation and innovation, and a rare example of a game that surpasses its literary source. The story is gripping and drives you along. You want to know what’s happening. You want to find out what happened before Yasna got to Regis III.

Yasna is an easy protagonist to root for. I absolutely loved listening to her going off on scientific tangents while exploring. It’s a shame that in my gameplay I wasn’t left feeling satisfied with the ending I got, as I felt Yasna’s story just ended abruptly. Maybe I need to play around with the endings to see what suits me. The good part is that once you’ve completed it, you can continue from the last save point and make a different decision. Find one that maybe feels you leaving more satisfied.

It’s worth mentioning that there was one Steam Deck problem. One weekend the game kept crashing so hard on one cutscene that it restarted my Steam Deck, which rendered the game unplayable. I couldn’t skip that scene as it died before I could skip. But the great thing was the developers acknowledged there was a problem and fixed it within days. There was even an explanation. That’s the kind of thing we love to see from developers.

The Invincible is a unique and ambitious game that is sure to appeal to fans of sci-fi and RPGs. It is a slow-paced game that requires patience, but those who are willing to invest the time will be rewarded with a thought-provoking and immersive experience.

I rate The Invincible a 7/10. Check it out on Steam. There’s an awful lot to like about The Invincible.

We Score This Game

rating score: 7

Very Good!

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