Putting a strategy game on console can be a gamble. So many of them rely upon layers and layers of menus, multiple vantage points from which one can plan, and a deluge of mechanics to manage and account for in every scenario and interaction. When limited to a controller, this can quickly become convoluted and – in extreme cases – downright unpleasant if not handled carefully.
Thankfully, multiple strategy games have bene able to tweak their control schemes and layout accordingly to make it possible to play and even enjoy on a console. This includes games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Halo Wars, and now the latest from Don’t Starve developer Klei Entertainment: Invisible, Inc.
Invisible, Inc. is a tactical game about corporate espionage. It takes place in a dystopic future where corporations dominate, regulating and ruling over everything with “brutal efficiency.”
As the operator for Invisible, Inc., it’s the player’s job to direct agents of a covert operation as they embark on dangerous missions to hack different sources of technology, steal secrets, and bring down Invisible, Inc.’s enemies from the inside.
It’s a game about tension; you’re tense when resting behind cover just outside of a guard’s cone of vision, you’re tense when the alarm is raised slightly with the start of each new turn, you’re tense when plotting out how you’ll use the action points allotted to your character at the start of a turn. Something is always at risk, and things have the potential to go south very, very quickly if the player isn’t careful. Whereas some games encourage rushing in with a flurry of bullets, Invisible, Inc. keeps the player on a short, adjustable leash, forcing them to calculate their risks and be mindful of any pitfalls.
Using a controller for a game filled with menus and sub-menus seems like an unintuitive mess at first glance, but Invisible, Inc. is surprisingly manageable with buttons and analog sticks. Interactive actions are mapped to the directional D-pad buttons and suddenly appear over items that agents can use, an individual agent’s actions can be determined by using square to bring up their abilities, and the right analog stick can be used to swap a room around to make it easier to see and navigate.
It’s confusing at first, but any flubs with the menu configuration are easily forgotten thanks to the turn-based nature of the game. It pauses, allowing you all the time in the world to worry about your actions and any consequences they may have, which is a godsend for a game whose core is made up of selecting grid movements and using the various meus to choose which actions to take. A guard may have spotted you, but there’s still time to either fire back or get saved by a fellow agent. Even a rewind function gives players the chance to take a step backward and try their approach again.
Different difficulty levels make Invisible, Inc. more or less challenging, too. People who merely want to see the campaign through with minimal challenge will find a home in the most basic option, while players with more of a thirst for punishment can adjust the time limits and restrictions on each level to make things all the more grueling.
Invisible, Inc. contains some connective artistic tissue showing its attachment to Klei’s long lineup of games with evocative visual design, coupling dramatic shading and stylized characters to build its quirky personality.
It isn’t perfect. Some text is not formatted correctly and can be difficult to read, and even the most sensitive of console controls will have a difficult time emulating the responsiveness of a mouse and keyboard. But, these are minor issues serving more as annoying details than critical failures on behalf of the design.
Should you play Invisible, Inc. on PS4? Your opinions on turn-based strategy games will certainly dictate your personal interest, but on a technical standpoint, it’s a well-made port that mostly makes do with the absence of a mouse and keyboard.