Review – Invisible, Inc. (Switch)
Well, this was a big surprise. Only a couple of days ago Invisible, Inc. was stealth dropped into the Nintendo eShop. Combining elements of stealth, espionage, and turn-based strategy all rolled up in a rogue-like. Basically, a game that felt like it was designed especially for me. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to get my hands on it.
Invisible, Inc. is set in the future where mega corporations run the world. The titular Invisible Inc. is a spy agency who provides espionage-like services to these corporations. After your headquarters are compromised, you have seventy-two hours to find a new home for Incognita, the super powerful AI that assists you in your operations.
This seventy-two hour time limit feeds directly into the core gameplay and structure of Invisible, Inc. You have to choose which missions to do wisely. You can either make the choice of going halfway around the world for more loot or play it safe and tackle more missions in a single run. Once the seventy-two hours are up, you are thrust into the final mission, even if you aren’t prepared. It’s all about gearing up for that final mission, gathering new agents, and upgrading their abilities with new gadgets or augmentations.
Every mission is basically a puzzle. Set in procedurally generated levels, you need to find your objective and exit points. Most of the objectives do end up being very similar, but the core gameplay here is excellent. Figuring out how to get around guards and effectively use your agents is extremely satisfying. Incognita is a smart AI who you can directly control to turn the tides of a mission, but her resources are limited so you need to know when and where to use her. She can hack into active cameras to give you visuals of a room, unlock security devices, turn off laser grids, and a lot more when you unlock abilities later in the game.
There’s also a unique implementation of an in-game timer. Every turn you make will raise the alarm level by one notch; six notches and more security will be brought in. These could range from cameras to new guards. This is a brilliant mechanic that forces the element of risk vs reward. Do you explore the level in search of more loot or do you just complete your main objective and get out of there? I have failed entire runs because I thought I could break into a vault and steal everything when I already completed my main objective and could have just left.
This mechanic alters the gameplay in another manner: it pushes you to play the game at a faster pace. You’ll find yourself taking risks to reduce the likelihood of getting caught. You can also leave the level at any point as long as you know where the exit is. Sometimes it may be best to abandon it early instead of chancing getting a game over.
If you decide to take out guards, you have two options: lethally or non-lethally. A basic choice, but Invisible, Inc. takes this to the next level. Outright killing a guard is an expensive choice with limited lethal options and will raise the alarm level by two notches. Non-lethally doesn’t raise the alarm at all, but will only knock a guard out of action for three turns. Some gadgets can knock the guard out for even longer, whilst having a character pin them will pause the timer at the cost of keeping an agent busy. Every action has both an immediate and longer term consequence within the mission; there’s always a trade off.
Speaking of the Agents, each of the game’s agents have their own starting abilities and purposes. Initially, you only start with Decker and International, who can go invisible for a short duration and see devices through walls, respectively. Throughout a run you might get the opportunity to rescue new Agents to bring along and start with when you begin a new run. I’m a big fan of the character designs and utility in this game.
This game is also brutally difficult. It punishes you for the slightest mistake that you’ve made, but it often feels fair because it is your mistake. Even if you have played turn-based strategy games before, I would highly suggest listening to the game and starting on the easiest difficulty for your first playthrough. There are a lot of rules and mechanics at play, and getting to grips with them can get frustrating in the game’s middle and expert difficulties. Trust me, I tried this when the game first came out and got absolutely destroyed. Getting caught isn’t the end of the world, and if you royally screw up there is always a rewind feature that takes you back to the start of your previous turn. On the basic difficulty you get five of these, but this can be modified.
Invisible Inc. is host to a ton of difficulty settings and modifiers that allow you to customise the game to your own liking within the difficulty of your choosing. Feel like the rewinds are too much of a crutch? Turn on Ironman Mode. Feel like seventy-two hours is too short to prepare for the final mission? Boost that up or even turn on Endless Mode, if that’s what you are looking for. This flexibility in how to play the game makes Invisible, Inc. endlessly replayable.
Klei’s fantastic art direction is in full display here, with a cast of unique and interestingly designed characters. It does lack in the visual variety, but it’s still a treat to look at. Unfortunately, the Switch port is underwhelming with semi-frequent frame rate drops and slow downs. Not to mention, longer loading times.
Invisible Inc. is one of my favourite stealth games in recent years. Its smart and unique blending of multiple genres provide a fun and challenging gameplay experience I would recommend to anyone. If you’re a fan of stealth, rogue-likes, and tactical turn-based combat, you can’t let Invisible, Inc. pass you by.
Klei’s fantastic art direction looks great on the go. Although. a few technical issues bring the port down a notch.
Invisible, Inc. provides stellar and difficult turn-based stealth, only really lacking in objective variety.
The Agent’s dialogue is great with a solid soundtrack as well.
Smartly designed rogue-like with procedurally generated missions and endless replay value.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Invisible Inc. is available now on PC, Switch and Playstation 4.
Reviewed on Switch.