What's it about?Invisible, Inc
is a turn-based, rogue-lite, tactical stealth game from Klei Entertainment, the makers of such delights as Shank
, Mark of the Ninja
and Don't Starve
. You direct agents on missions in a number of randomly generated levels in order to build up enough power and resources to take on the final mission, all over the course of three short days.How does it play?
The closest comparison one can make for Invisible, Inc
is the XCOM
series. While there are some obvious similarities, flying between missions in your own Skyranger-type aircraft, unit customisation, perma-death, steep difficulty curve etc, there are some equally significant differences. For example, there is no hit-chance RNG that made me give up on XCOM
. If you make your agent ambush a guard, or shoot at them, they just do it. It will always succeed unless the guard is armoured and your agent is equipped with a weapon that does not pierce armour.
Apart from the XCOM
-style unit direction, the main mechanic of the game is manipulating the field by using Incognita, a powerful AI, to hack into the levels mainframe. You can take over security cameras and robots, disable generators and unlock terminals with which to buy new items or programmes for Incognita. Some devices in later levels have Daemon programmes, which cause negative effects when the device is hacked, so caution should be exercised at all times.
The game is very fun to play. The controls are very fluid, and the gameplay is smooth. The UI can tend to get a little cluttered if a lot of things are close together, but since the game is turn-based this rarely matters too much. Much like indie hit FTL: Faster Than Light
, Invisible, Inc
is a game that hinges on your ability to make decisions and manage resources. Since you have such a limited amount of time to prepare for the final mission, you must decide how to spend your money, how to assign roles and if it would be worth risking that high-security firm for the promise of a rare item. When things are going well, you can get a real sense of power as you disable half a facilities security measures, then move your agents in to take down two guards at once. Of course, if things start to go wrong, it can become a heart-pounding game of cat-and-mouse as you try to keep your agents alive and get as much out of the level as you can before (hopefully) escaping.
Also like FTL
, Invisible, Inc
gets very hard, very fast. The difficulty ramps up rapidly throughout each campaign; armoured guards and weaponised drones become more common, and mainframe devices require more power to hack. Despite these spikes in difficulty, however, the game is never completely unfair. If one of your agents ends up getting caught and gunned down, more often than not it's your own fault for not making sure you were adequately prepared, or for putting your agent in a silly place. The game is designed to be played through multiple times, with random generation, different characters and a persistent XP and unlock system providing the motivation to keep trying again. Kind of like Don't Starve
, really.How does it look?
Klei Entertainment are noted for their use of unique art styles across all of their games, all grounded with design and animation that is distinctly 'Klei'. Invisible, Inc
is no exception, sporting an incredibly sleek and cool-looking pastel-colour, posterised aesthetic that suits the cyberpunk setting down to the ground. The clean and clear character and environment design lends itself to the gameplay, with the various guards looking different enough to allow you to sum up a situation at a glance, and also allowing for routes to be planned in no time.How does it sound?Invisible, Inc
's sound design is very good indeed, with lots of atmospheric music and crisp sound effects. The guards, who appear to all be Canadian, have just enough different ways of saying "Looking around" to avoid it becoming tedious, and the voice acting of the main characters is charismatic and engaging. Incognita's little sound bytes also give the impression that you are in control of a powerful, emotionless AI. Just like their art direction, Klei have always done sound very well, and Invisible, Inc
is no exception.Long story short...Invisible, Inc
, apart from having an amazing title, is a great little game. Well put together, smoothly executed, and neatly presented. It would benefit from some DLC offering more agents and items, but that could come later down the line. For now, Invisible, Inc
is a superb, inexpensive game that provides quick bursts of engrossing, brow-sweatingly tense fun. It's appeal is perhaps more niche than Don't Starve
, but give it a go and you may find lots to enjoy here. Just don't expect much of a story.