The tried-and-true of Invincible, a high-impact sci-fi narrative adventure that attempts to turn Stanisław Lem into a video game.
“The second-class cruiser Invincible, the largest unit usable by the lira base, was photon-powered in the far quarter of the constellation. Eighty-three crew members slept in the hibernation tunnel on the mid-deck. The voyage was relatively short, deep sleep preferred to full hibernation, where body temperature did not drop below ten degrees Celsius. On the bridge. only automatic devices are working.Their field of view was occupied by the disk, right in the middle of the aiming system. A sun slightly hotter than an ordinary red dwarf. When its circle reached half the screen, the engine’s annihilation response stopped.
For a while there was absolute silence throughout the ship. Air conditioners and computers made no noise. The very subtle vibration caused by the light beam emanating from the propellers had ceased; it came out of the stern like an infinitely long sword, giving faint reflections to the ship as it plunged into darkness. Invincible was advancing at a steady pace, as if motionless, deaf, and seemingly empty. “Thus begins Stanisław Lem’s title-deserving novel that inspired Starward Industries to make its game. Tried the Invincible hope to rediscover the same atmosphere and we were not disappointed.
The version of The Invicible that we had the opportunity to test contains about an hour of gameplay and gave us a very definite impression of what it wants to be and what it won’t be. The authors seem to want to relaunch the philosophical nature of Lem’s work and infuse it into a ‘one’.narrative adventure filled with guided interactions and a dialogical action where what’s going on is always (or almost) important and in a certain sense descriptive. The player takes on the role of Yasna, a scientist sent on a rescue mission to the planet Regis III. His teammates seem to have disappeared and are no longer showing signs of life. Therefore, our aim is to trace them, dead or alive, and try to understand what happened.
There demo From that perspective, it was really indicative, because it starts right when you face what’s left of the team. The first thing to do is to choose how to proceed, that is, the path to be followed in a vehicle to achieve our first goal.
Regis III is a deserted, sandy planet. From the very beginning, although all you can see around is rock formations and sand clouds, we notice the care taken in the representation of the place that really stands out and makes a big impact. Yasna wears a spacesuit and has a communication system where she is in constant contact with her manager named Novik. He talks a lot, explains all his progress and outlines possible dangers, and in turn receives instructions on how to proceed and clues to the truth behind the expedition. The scientist also develops many theories of what is happening, always starting by observing what is happening around. As we play we will discover that it also has some tools like a telescope, scanner and some kind of electronic folder where it marks all its discoveries like numbers or names of found colleagues. .
this game speed very slow. Invincible doesn’t seem like a viable artifact for those entering a retreat if they don’t see an explosion for five consecutive minutes. There was never any real action during the demo hour, but the game allowed us to learn a lot about Regis III and its mysteries, and also gave us an explanation of what was going on, albeit incompletely. In this, the developers seem to have followed closely Clemont’s book, which the research chapter was debunked long before it ended, so as not to disturb the author’s philosophical thoughts on the nature of life. We won’t tell you exactly what it is. Just know that we will encounter “enemies” so to speak, but not face them in the traditional way. In fact, we will not mention them at all. Regardless, let’s move on.
During his research, Yasna comes to an area with two dead robots. These are very complex machines with systems designed to dig up rocks. There is no one around. Yasna takes pictures of one of the two robots taken by a security camera (the technology produced is 1960s sci-fi, the microphone is always in the foreground, although it makes some concessions to modernity) and learns more or less what happened to it. His colleagues then continue their research, observing strange metal formations that have placed themselves in a channel and appear alive, at least to the scanner.
Topped with all dialogues It’s constant that an occasional multiple-choice system that can go on even for minutes asks us to intervene. In the demo, it’s unclear whether our decisions will have an impact on the development of the story. Only when we repeated twice to choose alternative answers to those given before, we did not see any significant changes in events, we only noticed it in some dialogues. Even if it’s a way to get us to stick to a certain point of view on the subject, they’re probably going to think about the final part of the adventure in some way. But let’s go further.
Yasna discovers that despite herself, one of the two robots is still active. He somehow manages to cross the area he is in and capture the rest of the expedition. He doesn’t do much here either, digging into vehicles and the few existing buildings, interacting with various instruments, looking for recordings and clues that will enlighten him as to what’s going on. Let’s just say it’s an essentially narrative episode, consisting of lots of dialogue and targeted interactions, apart from looking for an alternative way to reach the excavation site (it’s actually very quick and simple). This is also the time physical presence With the unique animations dedicated to various interactions and the need for the player to perform some movements directly with the mouse/controller to operate the vehicles, the adventure becomes stronger despite being experienced in first person. In that sense, The Invincible seems to have been meticulously choreographed to give the actor the idea that he’s really there physically. However, after realizing the team’s fate, the demo ends with the exploration of the excavation site and a choice made by Yasna, which refers to the final version, setting in motion a final event whose consequences are left unresolved. This is the version we can’t wait to play at this point, which we hope will hold all the promises of this fascinating demo.
It’s obviously too early to make a judgment on The Invincible, but as we mentioned, we have a firm idea of its gameplay that has a strong narrative nature, even if it’s not supported by filmed sequences. The part of the story we had to play didn’t really interest us, although we always more or less knew where it would end (we’ve read the novel). From a technical standpoint, Starward Industries’ work seemed excellent to us, and the dialogues allowed us to fully dive into the topics covered. The hope is that the rest of the adventure is on the same level, mainly because the experience lives on the beauty and brutality of Regis III, and the texts’ ability to give us strong perspective on what’s going on raises deep questions. .
- a lot of dialogue
- Regis III is a cruel and fascinating planet
- Will our choices have weight?