The Invincible Review: A Striking Sci-Fi Tale Marred by Monotony
“The Invincible,” Starward Industries’ debut into the gaming world, makes a striking entrance with its adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s renowned novel. In a gaming universe teeming with extraterrestrial shootouts and interstellar wars, “The Invincible” chooses a path less trodden, plunging into the realm of old-school, hard science fiction. This choice reflects a bold departure from mainstream gaming tropes, offering players a journey back to when space exploration in fiction centered more on humanity’s response to the cosmos than on alien encounters.
One of the game’s most striking features is its visual storytelling. Regis III’s landscapes, the game’s setting, are a visual feast, blending ominous and beautiful elements. Dust storms and breathtaking sunrises across dusty cliffs and sandy dunes create an immersive experience that is enhanced by the game’s first-person perspective. These visuals, reminiscent of a postcard from outer space, bring an emotional warmth and feeling to the game, mesmerizing players with hues that range from gaudy to starry black.
However, “The Invincible” is not without its flaws. While thematically tight and well-written, the game’s narrative sometimes feels disconnected from the player’s discoveries and knowledge. This disconnect is particularly noticeable in the latter parts of the game, where the protagonist, Yasna, delivers long speeches that seem unearned and out of sync with the player’s experience. Moreover, the gameplay, described as a ‘laboriously slow walking simulator,’ often feels monotonous and, at times, painfully dull. The core gameplay loop’s monotony is further exacerbated by the simplistic puzzles and the game’s tendency to misalign player choices, leading to frustration and a sense of redundancy.
The story, central to the game’s allure, revolves around Yasna, an amnesiac biologist trying to piece together the events that led to her current predicament on Regis III. This narrative choice allows players to experience the mystery alongside Yasna, filling in gaps as the story progresses. However, the game’s interpretation of player agency can be misleading, with choices often leading to the same outcomes. This design choice undermines players’ impact on the story’s direction, a crucial element in narrative-driven games.
Mechanically, “The Invincible” aligns closely with titles like “Firewatch” or “Call of the Sea,” focusing on exploration and interaction with the environment. The game does an admirable job of incorporating physical exertion into gameplay, with details like the protagonist’s suit fogging up from sprinting, adding a layer of realism. Nevertheless, while novel, these mechanics often lead to a slow and cumbersome experience, detracting from the game’s overall pacing and immersion.
“The Invincible” really is a mixed bag. On one hand, you’ve got these amazing visuals and a unique setting that feels different from your usual sci-fi game. But then, the gameplay is a bit of a letdown, and the story doesn’t always hit the mark. It’s got its moments, especially if you’re into games that focus more on the story and the whole sci-fi vibe. But it might not be your cup of tea if you’re looking for something with a bit more action and interaction.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5.
The Invincible is now available for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X.