November 6, 2023
PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
11 Bit Studios
What makes us ourselves? What awaits us in the vast confines of space? Are the hidden mysteries meant for us to be found? These questions are all tackled by the game The Invincible (not to be mistaken with the series of the same name). This game, based on a popular Polish sci-fi novel written by Stanisław Lem, puts us in the role of a space traveler who discovers a secret that probably shouldn’t have been discovered to begin with.
The game is essentially a walking simulator. As such, you are going to have to keep that in mind when unpacking the contents of this review. So, how does this game stack up narratively? Is the game recommendable, or does it fall short? Let’s find out.
Powered by Unreal Engine 5, The Invincible presents itself with graphical detail that looks fantastic with an RTX 4070. The game ran very smoothly at 144 FPS with no slowdowns or screen tears. This was also surprising because the game was running natively rather than with DLSS. With that option enabled, the game was running at a consistent 190 FPS, which is a rare sight among games these days in terms of optimization.
I will say, however, that I did find some of the graphics to be quite drool at times when it comes to the environment design. At times, it was easy to lose my bearings because everything looked the same when it came to the majority of the locations in The Invincible. No joke, I had to constantly check the map to make sure I was moving forward because I was feeling like I was running on a treadmill rather than from point A to point B.
At the very least, the sound design is decent enough to keep me immersed during some moments when the game wanted me to feel isolated. If there’s something The Invincible does very well, it’s delivering that intense feeling of solitude as you feel like you’re alone on a deserted and vast planet with no human in sight. It’s a feeling that permeates this game during its slow segments, and it stays with you until you find the next story beat. The sound design is complimented by the aesthetic that accompanies it, which goes for a retro-futuristic approach. This kind of visual design looks stripped right out of Bioshock, and it feels great seeing it implemented in another game outside of that series. Additionally, it’s used enough to justify the novelty of its implementation.
The Invincible stars an astrobiologist known as Yasna. She’s tasked with exploring a planet known as Regis III… Or at least that’s what the mission looks like as she awakens in the middle of the planet with no recollection of how she got there. The mission soon turns into a perilous journey where she has to find out what happened to her and her crew while also unraveling the secrets that she unearthed along the way.
Since this is a walking simulator, gameplay is going to majorly take a backseat, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t some variety to what you’re doing. The Invincible does have some places where you can opt to talk with NPCs. Some of these dialogues have an impact on what happens later in the story, and, in fact, you can also get multiple outcomes depending on the actions you take throughout the story. As such, multiple playthroughs are encouraged and that’s something I applaud of this kind of game.
Adding to the small bits of gameplay are the vehicle segments where you can ride some neat vehicles like Rovers and Flying Saucers. You also get to operate robots, read the logs of some machines and do other kinds of activities, so the gameplay variety is still there without having to sacrifice the narrative pacing.
As for the story, The Invincible’s strongest suit is its narrative beats. While it does have its slow moments, it has a plethora of twists and turns that kept me at the edge of my seat, guessing what could be happening. One of the most impactful twists was annoyingly spoiled to me (thanks, developers!). But at the very least, the rest of The Invincible’s moments can be great, especially as the secrets behind the threat tormenting Yasna’s crew begin to unravel.
There are a few shortcomings when it comes to The Invincible’s gameplay experience. Sometimes, the game doesn’t make it clear where it wants you to go, and as such, you’ll often be caught wandering aimlessly until you figure out which cliff you’re supposed to rub against to proceed to the next area.
Additionally, the game suffers a lot from having some padded-out areas where there’s absolutely nothing happening. This is further compounded by the issue I mentioned earlier of the samey environment design that makes it hard to distinguish where to go. As such, more often than not, you end up accidentally backtracking and wasting time instead of going towards the intended progress route.
On the plus side, The Invincible offers plenty of replayability thanks to its multiple endings and branching pathways, allowing you to have distinct outcomes that could shape the protagonist’s future. Thanks to this, you can have a varied gameplay experience that’s well worth the price of admission. While the game does have its slow and dreary moments, it definitely more than makes up for them with its highlights.
Still, this is, at the end of the day, a walking simulator. As such, this game won’t be a game for those looking to get some action. This is a thriller that aims to pose some philosophical questions at the end. if that’s what you’re looking for, then The Invincible will be a perfect fit for your next space expedition.
Reviewed on PC (code provided by the publisher).
In short, The Invincible is a relatively comfortable experience that I could recommend to fans of thrillers and science fiction. I don’t think it could be scratching an itch for horror fans specifically because it certainly doesn’t have much going for it when it comes to cosmic horror. Still, its twists and turns can leave an impact on those seeking a psychological thriller, especially with the kind of questions it poses at the end.
- Great audio design that compliments the atmosphere
- Beautiful graphics
- Good optimization on PC
- Great narrative
- Impactful choices that add replay value
- Environment design can look very samey
- Some boring and padded out segments