Since its first announcement in 2020, The Invincible has generated growing excitement among gamers around the world. Initially scheduled for release in 2021, it was ultimately not released until 2023, on November 6 to be precise. Developed by Starward Industries and published by 11 bit studios, this adventure game promises an immersive and captivating experience, mixing science fiction and mystery. The developers come from studios such as CD Projekt Red (Cyberpunk 2077) and Techland (Dying Light), which suggests that the title has potential.
Once upon a time…
The Invincible is based on the novel of the same name written by Stanisław Lem, a Polish science fiction author. The story takes place on a distant planet called Regis III, where the player plays an engineer named Yasna. The latter finds herself stuck in a strange and mysterious world. Our character is guided throughout the adventure by Novik, the Astrogator based on the orbiting ship, DragonFly. The story revolves around the discovery of the true nature of this universe and its connection to advanced extraterrestrial technology. In order to initiate the plot, Yasna must investigate the disappearance of the members of the expedition, which gradually guides us towards the real goal of the epic.
The player must explore this unknown universe in order to unravel the mysteries hidden in the depths of Regis III. The title draws inspiration from classic science fiction themes, such as advanced technology, aliens and temporal paradoxes, providing a rich and immersive narrative experience. The Invincible also borrows elements from many games in the genre such as Alien: Isolation for the AI, Firewatch for the gameplay (discussion) and Road 96 for the philosophical and narrative aspect. However, despite these few influences, the game is closer to a narrative thriller.
The Invincible is a ride in which we are told a story. Let’s not forget that being adapted from a novel, the software tends to use its codes. But do the codes of literature really apply to the world of video games? In some cases yes, but in this case they make the game a bit long. In fact, it takes between seven and ten hours to reach the first ending offered by The Invincible, knowing that the title offers no less than eleven possible endings.
When we say that the game can seem long, it’s because of the time it takes before something really happens. Ultimately, we spend more time exploring reading the map than actually taking part in the action, which only takes up two hours in the entire story at most. The pace is certainly not grueling, but we would have liked the action to start more quickly. It ends almost as quickly as it arrived, which leaves a sense of rush. In a book, you have to actually set up the framework, the plot, etc. so that the reader can project themselves. In a game, the process is different since the player is immediately thrown into the thick of things. No need to imagine the setting or the characters, everything is laid out before your eyes.
Somewhere on Regis III…
The Invincible shines with its exceptional graphics and attention to detail. The software harnesses the power of the latest technologies to create a breathtaking visual environment. The landscapes of Regis III are strikingly beautiful, with diverse environments ranging from vast expanses of desert to twisting rock canyons. The advanced technology of the aliens is depicted with a sense of realism that takes immersion to the next level. Every element of this world has been carefully designed to inspire wonder.
Attention to detail can sometimes seem superfluous, yet it is a key element of immersion and The Invincible is not left out in this regard. Indeed, even if the game is completely stripped of elements on the screen, it marks the lack of endurance in other ways. When Yasna finds herself out of breath, we notice that mist appears in the helmet of her spacesuit and her vision is slightly altered via a chromatic aberration system. This way of doing things reinforces the immersion. As for the soundtrack of the title, although it is almost non-existent, it is mainly based on the surrounding noises, giving a feeling of intense solitude in a world which seems, at first, so beautiful and so peaceful. When we no longer hear any noise or dialogue, Yasna hums or sings, as we would if we were alone in an unknown universe with the fear of something coming out of nowhere. This reassures and relieves the pressure a little.
Yasna here, is anyone there?
Let’s get to the heart of the matter and talk about gameplay. The Invincible introduces the story with a comic strip. This comic evolves over time, as if it were written as Yasna progresses. It can be found in the pause menu and allows you to have a common thread and to be able to recall the place where you stopped. The choice to mix the world of comics and video games to animate the story is interesting. Regularly, in addition to the automatic save logo, a logo with a star appears. This mini symbol means that a new banner is available in the BD section, which has twelve chapters and does not contain any bubbles. Only a small paragraph on the right summarizes our progress
Although we might believe that the story revolves around a central arc, the fact remains that The Invincible offers the opportunity to be master of your adventure. Indeed, the dialogues sometimes give the possibility of making choices. Choices that will, at one point or another, have an impact on the progression of the narrative. Some exchanges are timed, pushing the player to make an instinctive choice, while others allow time for reflection. You should know that the timer starts when the chat icon appears. In addition, the title uses flashbacks throughout the story which cause interactive cutscenes.
Apart from the narrative aspect of the game, it is the exploration which remains the majority. Yasna must above all look for her colleagues on this planet that is both welcoming and hostile. She can only move by walking or sprinting up to a certain point in the journey. As written previously, the software is very refined in terms of the icons on the screen and for good reason, no ATH is visible. To find out the mission objective, the player is free to open their logbook. This choice is deliberate and makes the adventure even more immersive. To make the expedition easier, the DragonFly command equips its subordinates with a map, a metal detector, a beacon detector, binoculars, oxygen and finally food to survive on Regis III .
Let’s focus on the first four items on this list, starting with the map. At first glance, the logbook seems quite innocuous. However, it contains a card which turns out to be blank. We need to complete it in order to be able to navigate comfortably. In reality, once the mapping is done, it is as easy to find your way on Regis III as in a Deux Chevaux with a map of France… It’s a mess, you have to navigate from page to page to try to reconstruct the path to borrow and above all know where to go. It is impossible to pin a location to get there more easily. Those who have no sense of direction (like us) will quickly be confused when faced with this map. This visualization of the planet is accompanied by binoculars, which allow you to detect points of interest in the distance. These will simply be mentioned on the map without it being possible to target them.
Secondly, we discover the ability to use a beacon detector which, as its name suggests, allows us to locate the beacon of one of the team members. Unfortunately, this detector most often leads to an outcome that Yasna would have preferred to avoid. Despite the events, our character does not let himself be defeated and keeps in mind that we never abandon anyone. Well, that’s up to the player to decide. In our case, we opted for leaving no one behind. Novik specifies that we can use a metal detector to find Gorsky. When Yasna finds the latter’s logbook, she discovers that he has followed the trail of strange reminiscences. This device makes it possible in particular to follow metal tracks, but also to detect areas where the steel is most vulnerable in order to prevent any potentially fatal falls.
Subsequently, it will be possible to travel aboard a Rover. Unfortunately, his conduct is chaotic. It is impossible to see beyond three meters and change point of view when using it. The road can only be seen through the windshield, which looks more like a porthole than a windshield given its size. What is quite original and disturbing is that the Rover never stays where you leave it. At times, it has moved a few meters, when it has not simply evaporated, and at others, it appears at the exit of a tunnel or in any other place without being noticed. leave her.
Finally, after a few hours of play, The Invincible decides to equip us with a weapon to defend ourselves against the hostility of the planet, hostility which takes the form of flies occasionally coming to attack us. It is true that action takes time to take place, but once it begins, it is not neglected and one must act without thinking.
Tested on Xbox Series