By Chris Picone, 14 November 2023
I've seen reviews both applauding and criticising The Invincible for the same reason, and thought it best to address this directly: The Invincible is not a game - not really. It's more of an interactive novel; a way for us to live through and experience Stanislaw Lem's tale of The Invincible through the eyes of Yasna the astrobiologist. If you approach The Invincible with that mindset, you'll love it.
The game's vivid, imaginative art style is definitely one of its selling points. The voice acting is absolutely on point. and the graphics are not quite photo-real but close, and stylised just enough to both allow a little room for the imagination while also playing into the retro-futuristic 1960s atompunk vibe. Regis III appears strange, beautiful, and dangerous. I found myself stopping many, many times to gaze in wonder at the ocean, the sky, the metal forests, the cities. I'm walking away from The Invincible with a folder full of screenshots and memories.
The movement in The Invincible gets a few complaints so I'll briefly touch on that. Mostly, I think people forget this isn't a shooter. The main character's a biologist, and is wandering an alien planet in a clunky 1960s space suit that she can't afford to damage, so honestly people need to have more realistic expectations. Having said that, there are definitely a few wonky moments and stones you really should be able to walk on. I've also seen plenty of reviews accusing The Invincible of being a "walking sim" - and while I can see where they're coming from, I think they've just gone into the game with the wrong mindset. The Invincible is more like a visual novel; much of the story is carried through the dialogue, and there are key moments in the game where you're forced to make some very tough decisions. While much of the game is played by "walking," it's really just a more interactive way to let you experience the story. Visual novels usually provide you with a set of pictures illustrating the scene before you; The Invincible lets you actually experience it all.
I absolutely loved The Invincible. The story itself is wonderful, and carried well through the medium of this "walking sim." It's deep, it's philosophical, it's full of both hope and despair, and sometimes you push all of that aside while you concentrate on survival. This is a game I'll be thinking about for a long time.