Published by 11 bit studios and developed by Starward Industries, The Invincible is a narrative adventure based on the novel penned by Stanislaw Lem. The Invincible follows the journey of a doctor who wakes on the lonely planet of Regis III and tries to look for answers on the whereabouts of her crew members and how she even got there. The novel was originally released back in 1964 and followed the journey of Rohan and his crew mates on Regis III. The game adaptation of The Invincible brings some changes to the table while keeping the overall theme and lore the same. This is our review of The Invincible on the PS5 in which we explore a beautiful planet and try to figure out what happened to our crew.
The Invincible changes one very key element of the novel and that is the main protagonist. Instead of Rohan, this time around we are in the shoes of Dr. Yasna, a biologist who awakes on the planet Regis III without any memory of how she got here. Initially, Dr. Yasna was supposed to stay on her ship Dragonfly in orbit however, she is now on the planet and is trying to locate her teammates without any memory. The whole amnesic episodes continue throughout the story and at key points, we get to see flashbacks of previous events which allow Dr. Yasna to slowly put together the pieces and also gives us the necessary backstory of the events taking place around us as we explore Regis III.
Alone and without much support, the game begins with us looking around for supplies and some useful tools such as a scanner, our journal, and other essential equipment. Being a doctor herself, Dr. Yasna can look after herself when it comes to the medical side but moving around and exploring the planet requires different tools. Throughout your journey, you will use your scanner, journal, and many other small tools to navigate your surroundings and complete different tasks. I like the design of the journal as it not only tells you what you do but also serves as a map of the planet and highlights where your current location is and where you need to go next in order to proceed in the game.
While The Invincible gives you the idea that it is an open-world exploration game, it is really not. Nearly the entire game is narrative and linear when it comes to progress. You may arrive in a large area but after exploring it, you will figure out that there is only one proper exit to progress to the next story bit. There will be times when you must use your telemeter to check out your surroundings for markers or other landmarks to see if you are heading in the right direction. While it may look like you are actually doing it for a purpose, it only adds to the otherwise walking gameplay because your path is already determined and even if you do not use these tools, you can still progress without much trouble. Story progression leads to different discoveries and while you are alone for most of the experience, eventually you have a probe following you around and your astrogator Novak giving you instructions via your headphones.
With narrative games, different mechanics have to keep you entertained which could be the sound design, game’s soundtrack, visuals, and different gameplay mechanics that might be secondary in many other games. The Invincible is played from a first-person perspective so it means that the character movements and animations are fairly detailed. There is no combat of any sort, so the main gameplay is walking around, using your tools, climbing rocks, or sliding down from them. Each of these actions has cool animations that you can check out such as climbing will feel like actual climbing as Yasna will use both her hands to lift herself up and then scurry up with her legs and the same is seen when sliding down. There are a few small choices that you can make in the game and some major ones. There are multiple endings in the game, so the story choices certainly have an impact on your game. This also gives you a chance to play through the game again and make different choices in order to obtain another ending. Apart from unlocking a different entry, there is not much that you will do in the game after completing your first playthrough.
At different locations, you will also get different dialogue options, but these are small decisions and will not affect the story much. These optional dialogues are timed, and you will need to press and hold L2 quickly and then choose an option to select it. If you miss them, you will not miss out much apart from a cool dialogue option. Your interaction key is R2 which might be a little different for a lot of players because I kept pressing X for a long amount of time before pressing R2 settled with me. This may take some time getting used to but other than this, the controls are fairly straightforward, and you can easily get up to speed with them after spending a few minutes in the game.
All of this combines together to deliver a pretty impressive narrative experience that will last around 11 to 12 hours depending on how much time you spend in each area. The Invincible not only looks good but it also sounds good. On the PS5, you will experience 60 FPS gameplay and the art style is really good. Regis III looks amazing and special attention to detail has been given in various aspects. While most of the planet is a desert and looks fairly barren, there are different moments where you will love the game, and how a single choice can completely alter the ending of the game is just baffling. You will certainly love Dr. Yasna as a character and you will enjoy her little moments where she begins to hum and just take in the beauty of Regis III. Overall, it is a beautiful adventure game and one that you should definitely not miss this year.
While The Invincible may lack when it comes to gameplay elements and being interactive, it is certainly not boring at all and keeps you glued to the screen as you try to figure out what’s next. It may be more inclined towards people who have read the novel, and they might understand the overall theme and lore of the title but even if you are going in blind, it is still a decent enough experience for you to give it a shot. The story of The Invincible is mysterious and it keeps you on your toes to play a little bit more as you try to figure out what is happening around you on Regis III. The Invincible is surely a little slow-paced as you will be walking around plenty and exploring different environments but that does not mean that this game is dull. It has its moments, and it really shines through them. Highly recommended for players who love exploring alien planets with brilliant narratives.
Final Score: 8.0/10