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The Invincible Review – Tense and Atmospheric Walking Sim

The Invincible is a first-person sci-fi adventure developed by Starward Industries and published by 11 bit Studios. Having played the demo back in May this year, the way the demo ended had me eagerly wanting more and the game finally released on November 6, 2023. This was a great experience with a steady intensity that had you constantly pushing the story forward, even if it was a walking slog at times, to eventually hit some great story beats.

You play as Yasna, a scientist who is part of an expedition to Regis III, a planet that has been recently discovered. The crew, led by Astrogator Navik, has been sent to investigate a mysterious signal that is emanating from the planet. Navik is injured on a previous mission so stays behind on the Dragonfly in orbit while the team heads down to the planet surface. However, upon arriving at Regis III, they find that the planet is not what they expected.

Gameplay starts with Yasna waking up from lying on the ground, having no short-term memory of what happened. Her radio comms are down except for her outbound connection, so Yasna communicates all of her actions in the hope that someone is listening. The voice acting conveys great emotion when it needs to, as well as senses of dread and urgency when appropriate. Using her journal, she works out where the last known positions of her crew are and makes her way back to camp.

The game is a walking simulator with some vehicular travel towards the end, but for the most part Yasna is moving on foot and she can’t just jump freely. Sometimes there was a small rock that you felt you just wanted to jump up to move forward but you had to move around to a flat incline. This is pretty slow going at times, even when she sprints, but the outstanding moody music fills in this time, as do her thoughtful expressions, and later talking with Astrogator Navik once she repairs her radio equipment. It’s balanced enough that it doesn’t feel too much of a slog to walk/run everywhere, except when you make wrong turns by not paying attention to the terrain, but that’s a me problem.

Eventually we come across atompunk equipment we can use to enhance our searching, such as the metal detector, a tracker and a telemeter which is like a set of binoculars, allowing us to zoom in on points of interest to add to our map. As we are at first searching for survivors and later exploring the planet further, the landscapes are fantastically detailed and really nail the sci-fi aesthetic well. I often stopped to take screenshots to get the landscape and a planet in the sky lined up perfectly.

Some may find these walking simulators too slow, however I’ve played plenty of them and they have their own charm. I liken The Invincible to games like Deliver Us the Moon, Firewatch, Observation, Under the Waves, and many more great games. If you haven’t played those then definitely grab them in a Steam sale. While there aren’t collectibles to look for, I still liked ensuring I covered all possible areas on the map to explore which did end up finding me some interesting offshoots for more screenshots.

The story is quite linear to progress through, even though there may be various paths to traverse, they usually end up at the same key points. However, there are some diaogue options that can alter the outcome of the story to produce three different endings. At times I was able to choose the options easily while others happened when I was trying to do something or navigate a section and so it often just quickly chose the first option. I ended up replaying the game again and ensuring i made different decisions to see one of the alternate endings and I was happy with how both wrapped. I thought it was a great touch to have a comic reel that you can read progressively from the game’s menu.

Overall, I can happily recommend The Invincible to anyone that enjoys story-focused walking simulators with fantastic voice acting and superb alien landscape vistas to explore. The atompunk aesthetic is excellent and I was often stopping to take screenshots. The slower pace may not be for some, but it was right down my sci-fi alley and was faithful to the written novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Evolve PR and The Invincible is available now on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.


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