Sci-fi thriller The Invincible is one of those games that feels like it was circling by absolutely yonks, and every time there’s a new trailer, you’re like, “Oh yeah! That one! The one with the robots and the Soviet alien dot detector!” The most recent trailer for The Invincible came during the craziness of this year’s E3 and featured astrobiologist Yasna having a suspenseful encounter with a large spider robot and her antimatter death ray. It was only a five-minute long clip at the time, but now I’ve played a zoomed-in version of that particular scene, and yeah, I still don’t really like the look of that laser robot.
To refresh your memory of the scene in question, check out the gameplay trailer below. It’s a slightly shortened version of what you’ll actually be playing when The Invincible releases next year, but the gist is much the same: there’s a lot of walking, a lot of talking, and a lot of pushing and shoving buttons and levers as Yasna tries to figure out what happened to the rest of his space team’s convoy crew on the planet Regis III. Clearly, something bad happened early in the game, leaving Yasna and fellow star Bud Novik as the only surviving members of his expedition.
Or so it would seem. We already know for one of trailers from last year that Yasna will eventually befriend another mysterious space body in the game, and of course there’s also the book it’s based on, Stanislaw Lem’s sci-fi novel of the same name, so hardened Invincible fans will probably know. How much of that is already going to be shaken.
However, the extra space body was not in my preview build. Instead, it focused solely on Yasna and Novik, with the two in virtually constant radio communication as Yasna scouted an abandoned convoy of probes and space vehicles in a dusty gorge. Their conversations reminded me a lot of Firewatch and its walkie-talky dialogue, for while many of Yasna’s responses were scripted and played automatically in the background while I did other tasks, I occasionally received timed prompts to choose a more personalized response. to Novik’s statements and questions. Admittedly, it didn’t really matter much what I chose in the end – a replay of the game after my demo build unexpectedly failed saw events play out exactly the same way regardless of which piece of dialogue I chose – but the important thing is that they all felt believable at the time, bringing a welcome sense of emotional range to Yasna’s responses.
This really came to light when Yasna was tasked with retrieving a series of images from the belly of the Antimat death bot. In an elegant retro-futuristic twist, this series of photographic but hand-drawn plates (see above) were effectively a pictorial record of what the robot had been doing with its accompanying astronauts up until the moment it was powered off and inactive. Clearly, things didn’t go as planned, as evidenced by the piles of corpses strewn in the nearby arena, but Yasna will persist in reviewing each image independently, if only to trigger the next part of the game’s plot. The less patient and curious will be pleased to know that they can click ‘next next next’ to go through them all if they’re not so concerned about that, but several boards offered additional points of interaction if they wanted some information. a little more information than the data shown.
First of all, I liked how these extra prompts didn’t go down your throat during this scene. They are quite small and unassuming to begin with, and many only emerge when they are directly in Yasna’s line of sight. In fact, most of The Invincible’s interaction points work this way, including going up ledges and opening doors. It’s a bit like Stray, in that sense, and makes you work a little harder to find everything you can click in any given scene. While I can see this can get a bit annoying over time, the game needs it, to be honest, as otherwise you just sit still most of the time and listen to dialogue. Which is fine if you’re interested in the story at hand, but endlessly slow and boring if you’re not. If it helps liven up your largely static conversational chats, I don’t mind a little extra pixel hunting.
But it was the way these additional talking points fed back into Yasna’s dialogue choices that impressed me the most. Admittedly, it doesn’t go as far as giving him actual new dialogue options based on what he’s discovered, but I felt like by absorbing that additional information, I was making more informed decisions about which lines of dialogue I ultimately ended up with. selecting, as if he had a better understanding of why Yasna would be angry, optimistic, or sympathetic at those particular times. It’s a small thing, really, but it helped make Yasna’s world and situation feel more grounded as a result, which I imagine is no small feat for The Invincible writing team.
Ultimately, though, my overall concern from this 50+ minute preview portion is that The Invincible isn’t doing enough moment-to-moment to keep players engaged and immersed in its story. While the part I played successfully piqued my interest in finding out more about the deal with Yasna, Novik, and the strange swarm-like ‘flying’ robots that seemed to be the ones responsible for devastating the rest of the convoy (not the Death Laser Antimat bots ), I was also quite bored at times and really wanted to move things along a bit faster. There were also times when I was wandering around for a long time looking for the next element to click, all because it hadn’t come my way previously. As I mentioned earlier, this will definitely be a good thing in the long run if Yasna can’t move around her environment a bit faster, and could be a huge turn off for a lot of people if they’re just more or less about the larger story.
I’m almost tempted to just go ahead and read the book first to see if I really want to get back into the game once it’s released sometime in 2023. On the other hand, I also think part of my boredom stems from the fact that, well, I already we’ve seen the big plot twists of this particular moment in the game at E3, and it was really only towards the end of my preview build that it started to get into some really exciting new story territory. There was still a lot of walking, a lot of talking, and pushing and shoving of buttons and levers, true, but the introduction of all-consuming flying robots was pretty chilling. So I’m hoping that the rest of The Invincible can build up the suspense a little bit more. However, if not, then this could be pretty boring through Regis III’s dusty canyons.
fbq('track', 'PageView'); window.facebookPixelsDone = true;
window.dispatchEvent(new Event('BrockmanFacebookPixelsEnabled')); }