In a dystopian future where megacorportians control everything, information is the key to freedom. The Invisibles take in social outcasts that have the skills for spycraft and employ them to steal money, technology, and anything else they can lay their hands on from the corporate overlords. Operations fall apart when the corporations raid Invisible headquarters, leaving the leader and a couple of agents on the run with an artificial intelligence that's working off battery power. You're the last of Invisible's operators, and you have 72 hours to pull off a desperate bid to survive or go down swinging. Although the powerful corporations end up winning more often than not, you can always try again, smarter and stealthier than before.
Players start with two agents, equipped with unique cybernetic augments and basic hand-to-hand weaponry that quickly grow obsolete. You have to select the missions that you think will best further the goals of rescuing Invisible and its AI, Incognita. Incognita will hack into systems and help you by disabling security cameras, unlocking safes, and temporarily taking over security droids. But she has a limited amount of power, so I had to make careful decisions to suppliment to movements of my team. At the same time, I maneuvered agents through a randomly generated maze of corporate offices, stealing whatever I could along the way without being spotted. It's a delicate balance between several different factors that could all come tumbling down with one error in judgment.
The security threat increases with each turn, and eventually reinforcements will arrive to search out your agents. It quickly reaches a point where escape becomes all but impossible, and you'll have to restart the game from the beginning. Not to worry, because the game is designed for this. Each playthrough earns experience, which unlocks new characters, equipment, and hacking tools.
Fighting the Power
To call Invisible Inc tough would be making an major understatement. It's an incredible challenge to balance between patience and the press of time. You need to sneak past patrols, explore the map, accomplish your goals, and escape unscathed - all while trying to crack a few corporate safes for money and technology. Furthermore, you have to weigh out the importance of each mission. Do you try to rob a bank for more money, or do you go for technology heist? You could recruit another agent, but then you have one more person to upgrade and equip. Every move has to be the right one, because there's little room for mistakes. Even on Beginner difficulty, I found myself having to restart a couple times while getting the hang of racing against the clock.
The game gives you a handful of retries if a move goes sideways, but there's nothing to be done if you take too long exploring the map. Splitting up the team up means that your agents will be alone when confronting threats, with no one to help if they get taken out. Enemy forces will always become too numerous and powerful to fight against. Firearms are rare and don't have much ammunition, so you usually have to settle for knocking enemy guards out. However, unconscious guards will wake up after a few turns, angry and on the hunt for you. I often ended up leaving a trail of bodies in my wake, which explained why there was always a bit of money deducted from my earnings for cleanup.
The Great Spy Game
Although maps are reasonably sized, they feel gigantic when you're moving your spies through them. Things become especially difficult when your objectives and exit points are placed at opposite ends of each other. But one of my biggest problems was balancing between upgrades, gear and funding. I needed better gear for high level guards, but couldn't steal guns off guards because they're genetically keyed in. So,the only choices are to either acquire more cash, or slip in and out like ghosts.
The campaign is technically very short (about six or so missions), but its challenge stretches the experience out. This is a game that's meant to be replayed using new characters, tactics, and higher difficulties. The finale is extremely challenging, marked with objectives that require multiple turns to complete. Invisible Inc's story is also told with top-notch animations and stellar voice acting. It's ending is a little predictable, but that's ok.
Invisible Inc also features a number of different modes, including a custom mode that lets you toy around with the rules. You could make the game as easy or as difficult as you like. Or you can play endless missions with increasing difficulty to see how long you can last.
The game's challenge might seem extreme at first, but it never feels cheap. It forces you to think out your strategy and carefully plan each move. Invisible Inc is a sort of paradox. You have to move carefully, but you're fighting the clock at the same time. It's immense pressure that is thrilling to play out.
This review is based on a PC code provided by the publisher. Invisible Inc is available digitally for $19.99.
- Extremely challenging gameplay
- Randomly generated levels
- Excellent art style, animations, and voice acting
- Situations quickly grow out of control
- Story ending is a little predictable
Steven Wong posted a new article, Invisible Inc Review: A Test of Intelligence
the title of this review alone tells me I should not play this game.