There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Invisible, Inc. since the game hit Early Access in January of last year. A year and a half later, the game is now available for purchase on Steam as a full release. But is it worth picking up?
I first got into tactical RPGs with the reboot of X-Com back in 2012 and ever since I’ve wanted more. There are plenty nowadays and there are always more showing up but the backlash surrounding what the X-Com reboot could have been (what would eventually be released as The Bureau: XCOM Declassified) showed that people are in the market for tactical RPGs. Fast forward a few years and the Steam reviews for Invisible, Inc show that hasn’t changed.
The user reviews display a rating of “Overwhelmingly Positive”. In case you weren’t aware — that’s pretty damn good. In fact, at the time of writing, a whopping 877 of 923 reviews are positive. That’s over 95%! With such great feedback, Invisible, Inc. must be a fantastic game, right? Well, yes and no.
Let’s start with the story. Invisible, Inc. starts off with a bang and immediately plunges you into a cutscene where your headquarters is under attack. There’s a lot of action and all of it is portrayed through art that wouldn’t look unfamiliar in a Pixar film. Amidst the chaos you take your artificial intelligence, Incognita, and scramble which leads into the rest of the game. The rest of the story is told through text and voice acting, while the cutscenes only mark the beginning and the end.
Before you start the campaign, just after you select your party, you get a better idea of what’s going on. The year is 2074 and the world is ruled by corporations and you’re on the run. The screen also gives you a few tips and introduces you to the element of stealth and restarting. But before you start the story, you can choose to play the optional tutorial which will give you a better rundown and introduce you to some of the characters along the way.
If you choose to complete the tutorial, you can scrounge up a little money before you get started on the story. Once you complete it, you’re taken to the campaign generation menu and this is where a lot of the longevity behind Invisible, Inc. comes from. There are three basic options: beginner, experienced, and expert. If you’re having a hard time or think the game is too easy, you can also customize the campaign however you want. And I do mean however.
Among the customization options, you can toggle the ability to rewind and try the stage, change the amount of power or money that you start with, increase or decrease the length of the story, and even change the number of guards or rewards you’ll encounter along the way. The level of customization available effectively lets you decide how you want to play. If you want to start the game as easy as possible and work your way up until you’re really good at it, you can do that. If you’ve been playing tactical RPGs for years and you want to make it as hard as possible, you can do that too. There are also four more additional options but they’re really just preset variations like the original difficulty settings.
The level of customization given to you in Invisible, Inc. is what makes it special. While I enjoy tactical RPGs, I’m not necessarily very good at them. I originally started the game on the easiest preset option, which is beginner, but I still had difficulty. I could have continued to play the game and restart over and over as intended but I decided to test out the customization and see just how easy I could make the game instead.
For my playthrough, I set everything to the lowest number possible. I gave myself the highest amount of currency that you can start with, I turned off the incremental alarm, and I made a lot of other changes. The end result was a game that was so easy it could be completed in an hour or two and I realized that might not have been the best choice for a game that is supposed to be challenging. Since you can change the length of the story along with the difficulty, the time you spend playing through it is really up to you. If you really wanted to, you could set the story to become endless.
I didn’t try that. But I could have and that’s what I like so much about Invisible, Inc. The story itself isn’t very long, which could be viewed as a con, but just because the story isn’t very long doesn’t mean that you can’t keep playing. Once you’ve conquered the story for the first time there’s still so much more than you can do, thanks to the level of customization. It adds a certain level of depth and if those options weren’t there, you might be reading a different review.
Of course, the gameplay is probably the most important aspect of Invisible, Inc. It’s a challenging game and that’s thanks to a number of mechanics. Since it’s a stealth game, a large part of the game revolves around planning and avoiding conflict. There are a lot of blind spots and in those blind spots you can find guards or security cameras. If you accidentally run into them, well, you better be prepared to take them out or have a good plan of action to get away, because they want to kill you. And they probably will — over and over.
Like most tactical RPGs, Invisible, Inc. includes a certain degree of fatality. If your characters get caught by guards and wind up on the floor, it’s game over. You’ve failed that mission and you’ll have to try again. If you have it turned on there is the option to retry that level. But every time you retry the level, it looks a bit different. That’s because each and every level is randomly generated, so you better learn the basics. When I played on beginner, I died a lot. It was only once I restarted on the easiest difficulty possible that I really began to understand the mechanics.
The game even tells you that you’re going to die a lot, so you will get used to it. After all, it wouldn’t be a tactical RPG if you didn’t have roguelike elements right? Once you get the hang of things, it’s relatively smooth sailing. You’ll need to know what missions to pick and when, which comes with experience. The final mission in particular can really screw with you if you’re not properly equipped, so you might want to keep that in mind. You might think you want money but if you’re not careful you could end up dead.
There’s also hacking, which plays a major role. Those security cameras that I mentioned earlier? You can take those out using Incognita to hack them. Once you do that, they’re yours and they’ll grant you vision instead of the enemy. That’s probably the most important thing during the campaign but you’ll also want to watch out for daemons, which are basically viruses that want you dead. If you hack something with a daemon, you’re getting a debuff. Get too many of those and you’re probably screwed.
I went into Invisible, Inc. expecting a solid tactical RPG and that’s exactly what I got. It’s challenging but it also give you the keys and lets you choose how difficult you want it to be. If you haven’t gotten your fill of the genre lately, Invisible, Inc. should prove to be a fun experience and with so much customization you might be playing for a while.
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Release Date: 5/12/15
- Fun tactical gameplay that incorporates some new elements
- Incredible customization gives you control of the gameplay while adding tons of depth
- If you let it, the game can be pretty challenging
- The story itself is relatively short, though it does set itself up for a sequel
Disclaimer: A copy of Invisible, Inc. was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.Tweet