Invisible, Inc. Review

Title screen of Invisible, Inc

Klei Entertainment has a specific gift for creating controversial products. Whether it’s the long-standing Shank duology, the night-shining Mark of the Ninja, or even the survival game Don’t Starve – the situation is always the same: either you fall in love with them forever, turning a blind eye to a heap of flaws, or these same details become the main obstacle to a long-term relationship. Is it surprising then that Invisible, Inc., a game that looks smooth and attractive from the outside, didn’t stray too far from its native apple tree?

Intentions, as always, are purely good. To mix stealth and turn-based tactics, infuse the foundation with juicy randomness, wrap it in a simple plot, and garnish it with signature decorations – what more could connoisseurs of the industry, hungry for a new gaming experience, wish for? In principle, reality is quite close to the concept, but there is still a chance that the local concept simply won’t appeal to you in practice.

Image related to a prisoner or captive

We are rescuing our fellow agent from prison. The main thing is to lure the guard away.

Outside, in the meantime, is the future. Far enough for power to fall into the hands of immense corporations, among which Invisible, Inc. is lost – a modest spy agency digging dirt on global giants. Of course, it doesn’t come for free, and in the opening video, the agency’s headquarters are besieged. While surprised statisticians die dramatically, only three employees who have decided to gather strength and take revenge on the offenders manage to escape. They have only 72 hours for this, but this time will be enough to make things happen. Or not happen at all. We’ll see.

The whole Invisible, Inc. is a series of missions to raise funds for a counterattack, from hacking corporate networks to rescuing hostages. Markers on the global map take you straight to the buildings of various organizations, where you, managing a team of up to four agents, must complete your objective and escape without a trace. However, it’s not always that simple, as campaign levels are generated completely randomly, and operatives die for real and forever.

Where in such a game without a black software

Where would such a game be without the black market for software.

The legacy of “croissants” greatly influences the gameplay style and unexpectedly blends well with the mechanics, in a sense justifying it. Procedural locations leave no room for fans of predetermined routes from guides, as each time you have to act in a completely new territory with vague ideas about the layout and upcoming dangers. Hence the careful stealth, peeking around corners, and quick sprints under cameras – because in the “fog of war” there could very well be a guard ready to ruin the entire plan. Depriving us of a sense of complete control, we are forced to follow the rules, cruelly punishing carelessness. The entire game is built on this feeling, and it must be said that it holds up excellently, despite the mandatory replays.

However, where the emphasis on replayability lies, problems with the plot inevitably arise, and one of the main criticisms should be addressed to it. The echoes of a coherent story fade immediately after the prologue, when the baton is handed over to the “talking heads” that surround you during all the free time between missions. Do not be ashamed of your desires and confidently skip the meager blocks of text – attempts to make sense of it all will be abandoned around the twentieth minute, as nothing interesting is foreseen until the very end. Over time, the plot dialogues only become a minor annoying factor, and you hardly need that.

The most disappointing aspect is the poor development of the agents as characters. Despite each having a brief description, they are here as marionettes, whom you don’t want and can’t empathize with. You choose and protect them at the beginning, but emotionally, their tragic demise fluctuates somewhere between sleepy smacking and a well-known poker face. It would have been nice to occasionally hear their conversations with each other, perhaps witness some random conflicts or reconcile with the side effects of their personalities – a few strokes could have opened up greater possibilities for creating our own stories, much more intriguing than those offered by the authors.

Image related to upgrades

Another problem of random generation is the whimsical balance of levels. Depending on your luck, Invisible, Inc. can give you a simple map with two rooms, and the next time it can create an impassable obstacle in the middle of nowhere. Getting the second scenario is extremely unpleasant, as in most cases it ends in a failed operation and a campaign restart, especially if you are lucky enough to play on high difficulty. There seems to be no one to blame except the impartial Random.

And by the way, playing is already difficult enough. Stealth is not exactly easy for us, and it will take at least a couple of attempts in “gentle” mode to get used to it. The foundation is largely borrowed from the latest XCOM, with all its action points and Overwatch, but instead of blasters, we use shadows, tasers, and electronics. Serious tactical planning is the replacement for firepower here, without it, progressing beyond the initial stages will be problematic.

Caption suggesting the expert level

We played on “Expert Plus”. Obviously, not very successfully.

Despite its step-by-step nature, Invisible, Inc. manages to exert immense pressure on the player. The constantly increasing level of alarm prevents prolonged exploration of corridors: the longer we dig, the more security and stronger firewalls in the network; rushing headlong is also not an option without a deadly lead injection into the head. The only viable option becomes improvisation. How much energy to spend on hacking, stunning a guard, or saving action points, risking for future upgrades or rushing to the exit – fortunately, time moves are not limited, and these breaks should be used to the maximum, carefully considering the solution to the immediate problem down to the smallest details.

It is even sadder that there is no trace of improvisation at difficulties close to “Expert”. In harsh conditions, you need to work quickly and accurately, while “novices” are allowed very interesting experiments with equipment and various approaches to passing. Fortunately, the mental tension described above can be created by the game at any difficulty level, and the settings before starting allow you to adjust as you please.

Scene involving hacking
alerted guards

In the visual aspects, Invisible, Inc. unmistakably reveals the work of a Canadian studio. As usual, there is crystal clear art, excellent sense of style, and a soft color palette – this time with shades of Transistor and recent Shadowrun. It is a pure delight for the eyes and there are no distractions during the gameplay.

In summary, it is an extraordinary, intelligent, and interesting game. Despite some shaky moments in the plot and occasional unwarranted difficulty, it confidently strides towards success, surpassing any other project by Klei Entertainment.

Invisible, Inc.
Indie, Strategy
Klei Entertainment
Klei Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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