The Invincible is a gripping narrative-driven first-person game that tells an intriguing story set in a world where evolution seems to have taken an insane route compared to what we know on Earth.
No matter how many times I tried to predict where the story was going, I was proven wrong at every major plot junction, and that’s what makes The Invincible so worth playing. It’s a story well worth experiencing because it’s so strange. Somehow, it manages to capture how readers must have felt about the book it’s based on when it was released, despite how open to new concepts and themes, particularly those featured at the heart of the book and game.
- Developer – Starward Industries
- Platforms – PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox Series X|S
- Release Date – November 6, 2023
- Price – $29.99/€29.99/£29.99
A Thirst for More Walking Simulator
While I believe The Invincible is far more than a simple walking simulator, that’s what many people will boil it down to. You take control of the protagonist, and you walk to each story beat. But that’s taking away from the ingenious little touches developer Starward Industries has put in to make every moment feel unique and memorable.
For example, early on, you’re tasked with finding a few people on Regis III. This sequence requires players to seek out landmarks in the surrounding environment, pick up a tracker and metal detector to help them find said crew members, and even help them out once they’ve been located.
Every inch of the way, the game is becoming more intriguing. It’s the perfect adaptation of a novel in that each revelation just leads to more questions. There are no answers, not really, because the culmination of the events players experience makes you question your sense of self and real-world concepts.
It’s much more than a walking simulator. It’s a simple game that makes your brain work harder than any Triple-A shooter or battle royale game ever could.
The Choice is Yours
One of the best things about The Invincible is that it hides impactful choices in plain sight. Every time I encountered one, I knew it was a decision I had to make because of the dialogue between the characters. However, there’s no massive signpost telling you there’s no turning back, no objective marker informing you that one choice is an ending and one is more story.
I love how The Invincible weaves the organic choices into the story and gameplay perfectly, like the video game adaptation of those choose-your-own-adventure books. No matter what you do, the story flows. I’m desperate to get back to Regis III to see how other choices play out because there’s so much to this world that I haven’t explored.
However, some moments in the game don’t tell you what to do. There’s definitely room for improvement in tutorials or on-screen prompts because I became stuck in a few areas when all I needed to do was press a button. The game doesn’t teach you well enough to know what to do intuitively, and that could do with being ironed out, or players will think it’s full of bugs.
Beautiful Aesthetics, Limited Interactivity
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, I love a good walking simulator, but I can’t help but think The Invincible could have done with a few more interesting gameplay mechanics to help make the gameplay engaging as well as the story. Most of the game is spent walking, and while the environments are stunning, they won’t save the experience for everyone.
You’ll explore alien caves that I can’t give you too many details about because that’ll spoil the story. But I can tell you about how immersive they are. While exploring, searching for the final lost crew member, you’ll enter a massive cave system under Regis III’s surface.
Down there, I became so engrossed that a bombastic moment meant to show players a dangerous human enemy force was also present in the world just turned into a genuine jump scare. Just as my character fell to the floor and cowered from the colossal anti-matter cannon-toting machine that slowly ambled toward her, I stared, awaiting my fate because I knew I was completely helpless.
The surroundings only get better as players explore deeper. There are creepy moments where shapes in the dark are used to throw you off and big open, explorable bases filled with Atompunk computers and sci-fi gear. This universe is amazing and definitely, one you’ll want to drink in every wall panel and screen of.
The Invincible’s aesthetics are clearly inspired by Stanislaw Lev’s book of the same name. Retro space-age technology is everywhere as if the 70s style never died. As a 90s kid, these visuals speak to me deeply because of the sci-fi movies I watched growing up. It’s a trip back in time and a thrust into the terrifying future.
If You Don’t Like the Story, You Won’t Like The Invincible
I’m usually good at finding redeeming factors in games for those who may not like the main gimmick. With The Invincible, though, that’s just not possible. The developer wanted to tell their version of the story from the book that inspired the game, and that’s what they’ve done. Sure, they’ve added some interactivity to make it more immersive and multiple choices for players to mess with, but it is very much a playable book—an incredibly detailed and stunning book, but a book nonetheless.
But even that is selling it short and dumbing it down. The Invincible wants to make you think. It wants to make you think about the things occurring in the world today. As I write this review, there’s an incredibly important and poignant conference that will affect the future of our world and technology as we know it, and it couldn’t be more relevant to The Invincible’s cautionary and almost terrifying tale.
The creeping dread I felt while playing wasn’t new; it wasn’t fresh or something abstract, based on a reality I don’t live in. That dread is real and relevant to me today, to my job, and it scared me. It’s something I think about on a daily basis, and I implore you to play it so you can broaden your horizons and wake up to a world that might not be too far away.
The Invincible is fantastic, but it’s still little more than a story. As a game, it pushes the idea of a novel into a new realm, bringing it to life around you for those who might not have the imagination to make that happen while they read. I love that it sets the baseline for how good basic narrative-driven games need to be moving forward, but I wanted more from it.
I wanted a few more mechanics, maybe some extra opportunities for exploration and collectibles, and to feel like I had a bit more onus on the events I played through. The Invincible comes so close to hitting the ethereal idea of truly ascended movie and novel narrative experiences and is very much worth playing, but there’s room for improvement.
7 / 10
|+ Amazing story you won’t want to put down.|
|+ A stunning world that’s fun to explore in its own right.|
|+ Solid gameplay mechanics for what’s there.|
|– Could do with more interactivity than it has.|
|– Some moments are unclear and appear as bugs when they’re not.|
|– A simple set of collectibles would fill a hole that I can feel in the gameplay|
Gamepur team received a PC code for the purpose of this review.