Slick, stylish, and incredibly frustrating – Invisible Inc., the latest game from developer Klei Entertainment, is a turn-based stealth ‘em up with a brutal learning curve. Adopting tactical gameplay that requires a lot of careful planning, the game feels more akin to X-COM than it does to the likes of Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid.
Comprising of just a single, short campaign, Invisible Inc. appears lacking on paper but in practice is an experience that keeps on giving. With randomly generated levels and scenarios building-up each campaign attempt into a unique experience, it’s only ever the narrative framework that is identical across the board.
Leading the remnants of a spec ops agency and its very-own AI system, Incognita, the mission is to take down the evil corporations of the future and bring around a global revolution. How players wish to approach this objective is entirely shaped around their choices, and with a limiting window of 72 hours to succeed, they must ensure their agents are as best prepared as possible when the final strike arrives. Comprising of several corporation facilities spread across a global map, players must make wise decisions on where to strike in order to reap the most valuable benefits.
The facilities themselves unfortunately do little to change up the formulae, with each objective effectively boiling down to a simple fetch quest. That being said, the rewards you yield from a successful infiltration is entirely dependent on the target you strike – of which you have freedom of choice. Essentially, each campaign should be spent trying to seize as many opportunities as possible to better support your team, though this isn’t always easy. Depending on which corporation has control of what facility ultimately reflects on the kinds of obstacles that the player will be forced into dealing with. On top of that, each is assigned a difficulty rating too, with the harder assignments generally offering the better rewards. Weighing up risk & reward is a persistent headache throughout the campaign, and no doubt there’ll be several miss-steps along the way before you understand what you’re getting yourself into.
Do you infiltrate a facility that can give your agents brand new abilities through body augments? Do you choose to sneak into a high-tech weapons lab in order to steal a prototype weapon? Or do you attempt to steal thousands of credits from a high-security vault in order to purchase gear from the black market, and afford essential stat upgrades? It’s here where the variety between each campaign attempt is amplified, and the heart of the risk and reward system becomes glaringly apparent.
With the overall 72-hour countdown looming above at all times, the time it takes to travel to each location is taken into account and deducted, forcing players to be as efficient and clever with their time as is possible. Should you infiltrate a facility 8 hours away in hope of locating a detained agent? Or, should you strike two closer facilities heralding different rewards within the same time, or less? Once again, players are faced with several possibilities and must often take a stab in the dark in aid of securing a future success. On one hand you could stumble across an absolute gold mine, while on the other, your mission could end totally fruitless – no reward to match the effort. But, as they say, it’s the curiosity that killed the cat, and players are required to risk it all for a shot at completing the final strike, a feat that WILL push your abilities and tactics to the max. Failure – you better get used to it.
Invisible Inc. is a tough game to complete, but thankfully your efforts never feel too wasted. Gathering experience points in the background, your mission performance and campaign progression contributes to the wider game, allowing players to unlock new agents to enlist and abilities to use in the field. Though it certainly doesn’t cut out the immense frustration at failing a mission after a solid streak of successful infiltrations, it does give reason to keep on trying until you emerge victorious – echoing similar vibes to that of The Binding Of Isaac in that sense.
Yes, players have to work hard in order to be successful at this game, and have to be more than willing to take a risk in order to gain the upper-hand. Being a tactical game and all, agents are not disposable, and each and every one out in the field is extremely vulnerable to damage. In other words, all it takes is one hit from an enemy to take you down.
Though the harsh difficulty will be off-putting to some, the game thankfully allows players to extensively modify the predetermined/’standard’ difficulties. These options allow each campaign to be condensed or even extended as players so please, as well as allowing access to a heap of additional modifiers that can ease-up the difficulty, or ultimately make things more devilish for those gamers that have a penchant for masochism. Despite the immense learning-curve and frequent failures that players will be subjected to, the satisfying gameplay style and solid mechanics result in a game that is hard to be too tough upon.
Structured into two phases: one for the player, and one for the enemy, each has their turn to move around and interact with the environment. Constrained to a limited amount of Action Points (AP) per agent, each turn must be used as effectively as possible with considerations needed to be made for the enemies following turn. AP is largely associated with movement (though some abilities do come with a cost), meaning that players can only travel so far. Further highlighting the importance of being efficient with AP use, each complete turn contributes to an increase in the particular facilities’ alarm level, with each level achieved adding in further danger, building-up the pressure to get things done as quickly as possible.
Actions in the field are contextual, and so long as an agent is nearby, players can interact with objects, steal items, knock out guards, hide behind cover, and even peak around corners/through doors in order to reveal more of the environment. Exploration is a big part of this game and players are dropped into missions totally blind. Areas are only uncovered as and when an agent encounters them, and elements such as enemies and traps are only visible when in the sight of an agent or friendly camera.
In addition to ordering your agents around each level, players can switch control over to Incognita, and use the AI’s hacking abilities to remove enemy control of cameras, robots, computers, and other electronics. Power is needed in order to utilise Incognita’s abilities, and this is typically recovered from using your agents to manually hack computers placed around each level. Much like the agents themselves, players are able to unlock and select a variety of different abilities for mission use. Be warned, however, as hacking objects in the level doesn’t come without risk. Once again heightening the difficulty, viruses called ‘Daemons’ can be found and activated on certain electronics, penalising the player with a variety of negative effects. Once again, you are reminded that risk and reward is at the forefront of the gameplay.
Should players make too huge of a mistake, players typically have access to a set amount of ‘Rewinds’ per-infiltration. Reverting players back to the starting state of their previous turn, their existence in the game can be a god-send when you find yourself in many sticky situations.
nvisible Inc. is a tough game, there’s no doubt about it. Despite the immense frustration of each and every failed campaign attempt, however, the game always emerges as a fun experience. The interesting mix of delving into the unknown, and being actively encouraged to take huge risks is one that is rather unique, and one that I’ve never found to such an extent in a tactical game. Though a game of this style will be far too much for the casual player, those that enjoy a truly tactical gaming experience are sure to lap it up.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.