Platforms: PC, Steam, PS4 | Developer/Publisher: Klei Entertainment | ESRB: N/A | Controls: Keyboard

Due to time constraints and the way gameplay turned out, the author wasn’t able to achieve an acceptable end-game scenario. As such, treat this as a precursory “in-progress” review that we hope to update as time allows.

Klei Entertainment, makers of Mark of the Ninja and Shank have a fairly good track record. Ninja in particular took some fine stealth mechanics and utilized them well within the side-scrolling, platformer style. Their latest, Invisible, Inc., takes a bit of their stealth flavor and sprinkles it into the world of turn-based strategy. This sounds like a tasty treat for someone like me, but what factors can alter the flavor of a gaming snack?

You’ll find me saying this a lot, “if only there were more time”. I’ve only spent a brief moment with Mark of the Ninja, though I enjoyed it. I completed Shank and thought it was a good side-scroller, action game — the sequel however didn’t do much to “move the needle”. I consider X-Com and XCOM (yes, both) to be two of may favorite games of all time. Add that genre’s sensibilities with Klei’s work and I should really enjoy Invisible, Inc., right?

The problem was, that I didn’t. The wider issue was that I didn’t feel like taking the time to get into, what seems to be a deep game. Maybe I had too much going on, maybe I had a bad meal that day. Whatever the issue, I wasn’t grabbed and my attention was not held. Coming back to the game the following days produced the same result.

Invisible, Inc. stays consistent with Klei’s use of cartoonish and stylized characters, this time moving to a slightly more elongated and sophisticated presentation of the story players and NPCs alike. It’s somewhere between the style of Ninja and the more polished edges of the recent Shadowrun title. Character and enemy design is also consistent, with use of a fairly limited color palette.

The voice work from the characters is well done in introductory pieces and brief moments of voice-over at key points within missions. Sound design is simple and quiet, playing up the stealth aspects of the game. Music is a peripheral thing for most of the experience. All three of these aspects are well-utilized in the few cut-scenes you’ll find while experiencing the game.

Invisible, Inc. Screen

You are the operator, controlling the decisions of the operatives within each procedurally generated level. Think of yourself as the puppet-master in this turn-based spy world. Operatives have different skills that are beneficial in different situations, hacking and combat are examples. There is also an ever-present AI, Incognita, which can help unlock data points, disable cameras and generally disrupt the networks of the evil corporations.

And yeah, it’s another evil corporation game. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great targets, but we’ve seen/heard/read this nefarious, business conglomerate backstory before. The agency, working against the corps, is attacked from within, escaping with heavy losses, and only the lives of a few key agents and the AI remain. It’s not a terrible setup, but it’s definitely not new.

Using the skills of the agents and the AI system, you’ve got to take back the lost ground through various infiltrations over the next few days (depending on how you setup the game world which is heavily customizable). You take their tech, their cash or disrupt them in various ways based on the missions you choose. Different contacts help along the way, and offer new gear to aid the fight.

invisibleinc 5-22-2015 12-36-20 PM-818

If it sounds like I’m just skimming the surface, it’s because that’s all I felt I could do. Short on time, I created, via the settings, a world which I though would get me through the basics so I could form an opinion and then try the deeper options. Instead I shortly ended up at a final mission without any ability to take out the mounting enemies. I guess, in some weird way I wanted the game to hold my hand and guide me, quickly though, as I wasn’t feeling the concept and its execution.

I can spend 100s of hours in XCOM on Classic Ironman, but couldn’t slow down long enough to get through simple scenarios in Invisible. The issue is probably with me, but it just never managed to grab a hold of my brain and make me focus. Stepping away from that, I can see all the things that many gamers and fans of the genre will like. Chiefly the custom nature of the game’s setup and the inherent randomness thanks to the ever-changing levels will provide ample amounts of replay for TBS and spy enthusiasts. Steam Workshop support has also been added to further expand the game.

Clearly, players who buy into the concept will be able to think ahead, customizing their squads and load-outs for each level based on the description in the world map. I wish I was that player… but I wasn’t during the days I played Invisible, Inc.. Think of this “final verdict” as a bridge between how I felt about the game and what I think other people will enjoy about it. I hope to be able to come back to it soon. The game was on Early Access on Steam for the better part of 2014, and now has received a full PC release with a PS4 released slated for sometime 2016.

Review copy provided by publisher on the Steam platform.

[taq_review]

James Schumacher
Freelance writer and used-to-be artist based out of the Pacific Northwest. I studied Game Art & Design in college. I have been writing web content for the last 6 years, including for my own website dedicated to entertainment, gaming & photography. I have been playing games dating back to the NES era. My other interests are film, books and music. I sometimes pretend to be great at photography. You can find me on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, 500px, DeviantArt and elsewhere under my nick: JamesInDigital.

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