Fans of Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, Gone Home, and several other narrative-driven titles will want to check out The Invincible. The Invincible is a futuristic Sci-Fi narrative mystery thriller that was first revealed in 2021 and is based on Polish author Stanislaw Lem’s novel of the same name, which features a retro-futuristic tech and vibe.
The Invincible sees players inserted into the space boots of astrobiologist Yasna, who lands on the planet of Regis 3 with her crew with events quickly going south as she must search for her lost team “dead or alive.” The philosophical nature of the events on Regis 3 will make Yasna forever question the scale of humankind’s ambitions. Your character has no recollection of how she got to Regis 3, and while amnesia usually feels like a crutch for most stories, this is one of the few scenarios where it works well. You slowly begin to pull back the curtain on the situation before you, but it is an early slog to get through.
Regis 3 Is Filled With Mysteries And Questions
The mysterious planet you land on, Regis 3, beckons more questions than answers. You are on a world seemingly devoid of life, but there are traces of something or someone that used to be there. Instead, the barren landscape provides no answers but several questions. Exploring the planet’s surface reveals some clues, and diving into caves doesn’t help either. That’s why the opening hours feel like a slow burn, but in a way that I don’t think does justice to the story. With your limited gear and some introductory notes, you head out into the unknown, looking for clues. My biggest issue is you’re thrown into a situation where context would help the player understand the situation better.
Yasna’s not a superhero, nor does she have abilities, so you’ll see why there is no combat in The Invincible and why most movements cause Yasna to exert herself often. You see that in how she moves and reacts to things like climbing a ledge, where she does her best to get up to where she needs to be. Moving generally takes a toll on you, and you can find yourself struggling with the simplest of tasks.
Yasna’s usually ready to head for scientific research on Regis 3 and will comment and narrate most of the things she encounters on the planet, be it some sort of flora or otherwise. It is fun to see how Yasna deals with the situation, and reminds me of Firewatch’s storytelling mechanics. You can even engage in limited prompts that expand upon what you’re doing on the planet while exploring, adding some depth to your conversations with yourself or others. In particular, I find the relationship between Yasna and the Astrogator worth it.
The Invincible Is A Better Interactive Experience Than It Is A Game
Exploring is one aspect of The Invincible; the planet’s surface is gorgeous and filled with beautiful terrain. Looking up into the sky yields magnificent sights where worlds provide stunning views. There is also a ton of detail pulled from the book, and it is clear there is a lot of love for the source material that gets lost in translation. While I don’t enjoy exploring aspects as much as I‘d like, the story kept me going.
We’ve all heard the walking simulator jokes before, and many games in this vein do feel like that; however, it ends up causing some frustration. Then you have some puzzles that don’t feel challenging in the best ways and others where you’re left scanning an assortment of items, and you can see how quickly this system feels lacking. It doesn’t encourage much faith in spending the time to engage and enjoy the mechanics meaningfully. Instead, these systems leave you rushing to move on to the next section due to a lack of challenge.
The Invincible starts on the wrong foot, taking time to get to anything remotely interesting. The experience is all the better for it when it does get to that point. And while I don’t see the adaptation being discussed in a Game of the Year discussion, it has some life in it thanks to a good protagonist in a dire situation that begs to be explored. However, several mechanics drag the experience down and showcase that while not every game needs combat, it does need to excel at the basics, which doesn’t seem to be the case here.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Review: The Invincible
Great characters and Yasna is an excellent protagonist