The Invincible is a gorgeous retro-futuristic adventure that finally looks ready for launch

Based on a 1964 sci-fi novel, this debut game from Starward Industries will have you rescue crew members (and hopefully the robots too) on a dangerous planet.

11 Bit Studios

At this point, my GDC 2023 appointment to see The Invincible by developer Starward Industries and publisher 11 Bit Studios was more of a status update. This adventure game based on a 1964 sci-fi novel of the same name by Stanislaw Lem was first announced all the way back in September 2020 and its release was delayed last year to 2023. Starward Industries is a relatively new Poland-based developer that has more than several team members who have experience at CD Projekt RED, Techland, and other high-profile studios. Suffice it to say, The Invincible has a lot of pressure to succeed, and from what I've seen so far, it looks right on track to meet those high expectations.


As a quick recap, you play an astrobiologist named Yasna who realizes she has lost her memories in a dangerous place called Regis III, a sandy, uncharted planet that is for some reason an important target in a space race between various factions. Fortunately, she is soon contacted by an Astrogator named Novik who is rather cold and matter-of-fact but provides her with crucial information about the situation. It doesn’t take long before her journey becomes a rescue mission, where she must find and recover the missing crewmates on her team through the use of several retro-futuristic gadgets and the occasional robot.

The hour-long demo I played started off about 40 to 50 minutes into the game. By that point, Yasna had more or less gotten her bearings and was doing her best to follow Novik’s instructions, though his jaded attitude doesn't make him the most supportive companion during this life-or-death emergency. How she responds to Novik through various dialogue options — that is, if she even chooses to say anything back since being silent is also a valid option — will impact their relationship throughout the adventure. This, along with Yesna’s actions, will determine which of the eleven endings you’ll receive at the end of the story, which is expected to run somewhere between eight and ten hours.

On this front, the developers made a point not to give overly blunt feedback on how NPCs react to her choices. That is to say that players won’t get a prompt in the corner stating that some NPC “will remember this” like in Telltale’s adventure games. Instead, Starward Industries is aiming for more subtlety here, though it shouldn’t be too hard to tell how a character feels about Yasna from their responses. Throughout the demo, this design choice made conversations more immersive and natural, encouraging me to be attentive to how she interacts with others.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

The Invincible Telemeter Gadget Tool
The handy telemeter will locate nearby targets of interest on Regis III.

SOURCE: 11 Bit Studios

One important decision I made was whether to go through the process of fixing a humanoid Autobot named ARTI. The robot was largely unresponsive but was still diligently circling an encampment I found that had a series of tents. Inside one of them was a doctor who seemed to be in some kind of catatonic state that rendered him effectively paralyzed. While there was pressure from Novik to find help or a launch pod quickly, I also saw ARTI as an important member of the team. The developers told me that some players in prior sessions moved on, but I decided to take the time to figure out how to repair the poor robot before leaving. It didn't take long to find some replacement parts for ARTI, so I thought it was well worth the time.

After setting up a booster signal for better communication, I had Yasna bolt toward a nearby region where another team member was suspected to be. I brought out her trusty telemeter to pinpoint various objects of interest, and used a white, bony formation that rose into the sky as a guidepost to find my way through the arid, cavernous region. Just so that I don’t spoil anything, let’s just say that Yasna did locate her target. And if I had not fixed the robot ahead of time, some of her fellow scientists would not have been rescued. Good job, ARTI!

The Invincible is slated to arrive in either Q2 or Q3 2023 on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S. After launch, the developers are considering whether to release the game on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One and whether to add VR support. They are also thinking about releasing a public demo, but no concrete plans have been made on it so far.

This preview is based on a hands-on PC demo provided by the publisher at GDC 2023.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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