The Invincible is a narrative-focused adventure developed by Starward Industries and published by 11 Bit Studios (Children of Morta). Starward are a Polish studio delivering its debut game with staff having worked on The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. The game is based on Stanislaw Lem’s 1964 novel of the same name.
Set in the distant future, you play Dr Yasna who ends up on the desert planet Regis III suffering from amnesia. The game has elements in common with Firewatch but also movies such as Annihilation & Arrival when it comes to tone and narrative. The game also has elements of sci-fi exploring sims Subnautica but firmly on dry land.
The Invincible is available now on PS4 & PS5, Xbox S/X and Windows.
The Invincible holds its own in this sci-fi adventure
I wasn’t familiar with the source material but the game’s concept was intriguing and didn’t disappoint. I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Invincible in the comments below.
The Invincible begins with a nice bit of worldbuilding and connection with the characters we encounter. A comic-book-style prologue shows the Dragonfly crew bonding just before beginning the journey home. We then cut to Dr Yasna waking up on the desert planet of Regis III with no memory of going to the surface. Luckily Yasna gets some aid via radio from Novik aboard the Dragonfly which remains in orbit.
After Yasna gets her bearings we begin the journey to find out what happened to her and the crew upon Regis III. The Invincible is very much an on-rails game as you walk and explore. Something I was happy to do as the story was very engaging and got to see more of the stunning environment. Stayward did a fantastic job honouring the source material from the detailed visuals to the ’60s aesthetic vision of future technology.
The novel tells the story of the titular spaceship that encounters the bizarre goings-on of Regis III while the game is from The Dragonfly’s perspective. Each vessel is from a rival faction, The Alliance and The Commonwealth respectively so adds an immersive layer of worldbuilding. Also, it gives Yasna, and by extension the player, a further sense of urgency. I learned that the developers were strongly inspired by games like Firewatch and Road 96 and this shows from the jump. This becomes clear as much of the game is walking and exploring the planet and piecing the narrative together while coming to your own conclusions.
While on rails, The Invincible gives some freedom while piecing together the game’s mystery. Finding these pieces through Yasna’s eyes leads to an ambiguous and satisfying ending. Dialogue choices, reactions and more help shape Yasna’s personality somewhat which made proceeding in the game more impactful. While exploring was engaging and satisfying, minor obstacles such as short rock formations became frustrating to navigate. The journey Yasna takes is designed to be clearly purposeful but leads to moments of irritation.
Graphics & Audio
The stunning visual environment is hands down my favourite part of The Invincible. Being set entirely in first-person as Dr Yasna made this vital and the developers nailed this part of the game. Walking around meant taking in the landscapes, the skies and more which were all stunning. The occasional flashback aboard The Dragonfly and seeing the other crew were not as well done with the NPCs not designed as well, but didn’t affect the overall experience. Seeing Yasna’s mental struggle to leave the planet as text on the screen was a nice touch and made the game more engaging. The game ran smoothly aside from a few visual bugs e.g. hands or items phasing into walls and the like.
The vast majority of dialogue comes from Yasna and Novik communicating via radio. While not having the same level of chemistry as Henry and Delilah in Firewatch, their dynamic was solid. Both Yasna and Novik’s voice acting was great, especially Yasna and for two characters you barely see it made them feel real. The Invincible’s score was fantastic and were the parts reminiscent of the movies Arrival and Annihilation. The score is a large part of the setting and goes hand-in-hand with Yasna’s emotions, environmental sounds and more to convey the mood at various moments. I was just as engaged by the game’s story as I was by the stunning environment and quality audio.
The Invincible has a playtime of 7-8 hours to experience the story. There is only the single-player campaign but is an excellent story so definitely worth revisiting. And to 100% the game will add several other hours of playtime. Some achievements are only available by making different choices at key moments. The 30 trophies of the PS4/PS5 version also require multiple playthroughs to platinum the game.
The Invincible is an excellent sci-fi adventure game telling a fresh and intriguing story while still faithful to the novel. A slow burn and ambiguous narrative makes exploring the on-rails environment a delight. Speaking of, the environment and setting look fantastic and are complimented by the great score and the sound effects & voice acting. The multiple trophies and achievements are a good excuse to revisit the game not you will need an excuse.
I had a great time playing The Invincible and was out of this world for Starward Industries’ debut game. Hopefully, it isn’t long before we see what they make next. I hope you enjoyed my review of The Invincible as much as I enjoyed playing it. I also reviewed The Fabulous Fear Machine which you can check out on the link.
The Invincible receives the coveted Thumb Culture Platinum Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.