Title: Invisible Inc.
Platform: Steam, Windows, OSX, Linux, PS4 (TBA)

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Strategy, Stealth
Players: Single player


Written by Whistler 19th May 2015















Oddly for being one of my favourite video game genres I don’t often have the chance to confess my love for the stealth genre. Ever since the fundamental mechanics and elements of the stealth genre were born in games like 005, Castle Wolfenstein and later popularized with the success of Metal Gear Solid and Thief, every developer has tried their hand at reinventing the wheel, revolutionizing the canvas and much like RPG, has been crammed into any game possible. However the genre is probably one of the few genres that has such great titles yet is flooded with mediocrity especially with the modern trend of adapting to the casual fanbases. In fact it’s a genre that sees so few leaps and bounds as developers seem to get caught up with either pampering the old school crowds or diluting their concoctions with the ever popular action genre.


Which is why Klei entertainment’s Invisible Inc. has me so enthralled, for not only does it attempt stealth, but it marries it with strategy. Of course all stealth games requires strategic planning and execution, but Invisible Inc. executes this in a more literal sense that can be best summed up as Metal Gear Solid meets X-Com. But is this symbiotic relationship the perfect formula, or another Frankenstein gone wrong?
























Invisible Inc. is a turn based tactical strategy game with a heavy dose of stealth elements. Players assume the role of an unnamed operator who’s put in command of two of a secret organizations best and brightest agents and are tasked with bringing down the mega corporations of the future. In order to do so you and your merry band of thieves, hackers and agents will need to infiltrate high security places of interest such as banks, vaults, executive HQs, cybernetic labs, security departments and so forth.


Our game begins with the organization carrying out a routine operation that turns out to be set up, HQ is raided and only the chief executive, two agents and the organizations super computer AI make it out safely. Accounts are frozen and the organizations agents are now MIA or worse, with little more than 72 hours left on the AI Icognita’s back up power time is precious. With what remains of the organization, you will need to hit up the mega corps. gathering necessary supplies, decking out your agents and preparing for a final counter offensive all whilst escaping your pursuers.


The stakes are certainly set high from the get go and nowhere does that ring truer than in Invisible Inc.’s gameplay. Anything above beginner will pose a steep challenge and an even steeper learning curve given how easily a smooth campaign can come crashing down from even the smallest of missteps or oversights.

Before you even get into the meat of the game Invisible Inc. reminds you that you are likely to fail multiple times before you succeed in bringing the mega corporations down and in true rogue lite fashion, a game over will see your progress wiped.


As you glance at the global map a la Xenonauts you will have access to a variety of random mission types ranging from simply robbing the executives of their loose valuables or ‘borrowing’ use of their cybernetic upgrade facilities. However much like in Xenonauts or X-Com choosing your next mission isn’t as simple as all that given the time allotted. Starting from day one your trips are limited with missions further away eating up more time, this means you need to balance between possibly rescuing an agent far off to the east of you when you could hit up two or three low priority missions nearby netting some useful gear or credits.
























While diving into your choice of corporate facility you’ll be presented with a familiar isometric view however where other strategic titles would have you gunning down anything, Invisible Inc. instead requires utmost stealth. Your agents are not armoured super soldiers and die in one hit, so it’s essential you to stay out of sight of security personnel, CCTV cameras and any other pesky obstacles.

Dealing with the guards can be achieved by simply avoiding their patrols or typically should an agent be able to get up close and personnel you can incapacitate them with tasers. There are a few other methods like dart guns and even lethal means but in most cases you’ll want to knock them out then leave the vicinity before they wake up. Dealing with the technological defences however requires the use of your AI support Incognita, during each player phase you can quickly shift to a matrix style view and can remotely hack into objects at the cost of power (gained by sapping consoles dotted around the map). Optimizing Incognita can greatly turn the tide of a tricky situation or help you breeze through by capturing cameras giving vision or even turning attack drones against the security.


It’s this balance between controlling your agents and Incognita coupled with the challenge that makes each turn during a mission so enjoyable. While you have all this utility at your disposal you’ll find that speed is also recommended. Each turn will see an extra blip added to the radial security meter, this also gets increased should you be spotted or draw attention to your agents which eventually raises the security level and adds extra cameras or even tougher guards with each increase.


Stealth games always add tension in order to truly give you a rewarding experience and this is where Invisible Inc. deals in spades. Little compares to those sweat inducing moments as you try to carefully move an agent around some awfully inconvenient guard patrols or that sense of achievement as you zip past a minefield of security measures and take down a CEO unnoticed.

These moments are plentiful thanks to Invisible Inc.’s procedurally generated levels however it leads to an issue that settled in after five hours.


Invisible Inc. is evidentially reliant of replay value, which having playedfor fourteen hours does work but it doesn’t take too long before you tire of seeing the same office environments be it with some rooms and objects shifted around. It takes away from the espionage romance when your enemies are just faceless goons, there’s no antagonist pitting his wits against you and so eventually it becomes just a matter of routinely carrying out objectives. Which was emphasised by the time I reached the final mission, with a team of highly skilled and decked out agents I had fun with the final objective only to realize I beat the game in far sooner than I expected only to be met with a disappointingly mediocre ending that did not match the enjoyment had with the game itself.
























The game’s story is indeed there, however it feels like such cheap window dressing to a rogue lite title that’s meant to be played like The Binding of Isaac. Invisible Inc. is a stellar strategy-stealth title that almost perfects the X-Com meets Splinter Cell formula but it doesn’t tick all the boxes.

Unlocking new characters and powers after your first campaign adds to the replayability but for a game that’s meant to promote multiple playthroughs I found myself growing tired of the surprising lack of content.


Invisible Inc. achieves great things when all is said and done, Klei Entertainment have shown they know how to reinterpret this genre and with a fairly strong platform to leap from I eagerly look forward to the where they go from here.



Pros:    

Plenty of choices for your kind of campaign,

Genuinely tense gameplay,

Enjoyable blend of strategy and stealth.

   

Cons:   

Steep learning curve for some,

Lacks enough content to rely on multiple playthroughs,

Lacklustre narrative,

Environments blend together.


Final verdict,

Invisible Inc. is a refreshing take on stealth and scores a 7.5/10.


Written by,

Whistler














Whistler Morbid        Play Morbid Play Morbid Play Morbid Play - Articles Morbid Play -  Reviews Morbid Play - Staff