Invisible, Inc. Review: Looking Through You

May 15th, 2015 -

After the extremely successful Mark of the Ninja, it was only natural that Klei would return to the stealth genre. After creating one of the most beloved stealth based games, would they strike lightning again with a different playstyle in Invisible, Inc.?

4. Smooth-Transaction

When it was first announced, people thought this (at the time, Incognita) would be the Syndicate that they didn’t get with the recent reboot (FPS opposed to the original RTS/Tactical shooter). However, the game is much more like X-COM in its turn-based gameplay of exploring levels, with the addition of a heavy emphasis on stealth. As in X-COM: Enemy Unknown or CounterSpy, you’ll be given the choice of which missions to choose, each one coming with its own rewards, objectives, and set of enemies. Each level is randomly generated, so if you rage quit, you won’t be able to go into the level with newfound knowledge.

Starting off on Beginner is the suggested difficulty, and there’s a reason – the game, while tame at first, can escalate very quickly in difficulty with a single wrong move. From the moment you begin a level, a security meter rises with each turn that you end. When it reaches five, the security goes up. This can mean a few things: new security cameras are being used, more guards show up, the quality of guards goes up… Basically, it’s not good for your agents. The faster you can maneuver the levels, picking up credits and hacking the machines, the better. It’s not polite to overstay your welcome, and you can rest assured that the mission will be a failure if you do. There will be times that you’ll have to leave an agent behind, usually because of bad placement on your end, with new guards showing up. Other times, you’ll be able to drag them to the exit point to save them. On the easier difficulties, you’re given a few chances to rewind, which takes you to the beginning of your last turn. This is to help you out of those situations where you stand no chance because you either didn’t look before you leaped, or couldn’t possibly predict a new enemy showing up where you headed because of the security level going up. The harder difficulties don’t allow for this, much like you can’t take back a move in chess.

3. Incognita Mainframe Mode

While you may lose agents in battle, you can also get new ones depending on the level. As mentioned earlier, you’ll choose the levels you play, each enticing you with potential rewards. One such reward is finding a locked up agent, while others include augments, key cards for other levels that require key cards for huge piles of loot, and others still that offer great items but require you to have the credits to buy them. In the event that you lose the agent, such as “Internationale,” you don’t need to fret too much over losing her ability of wirelessly absorbing power. The first agent I rescued ended up being the very same that I lost, which was great news as I seriously missed her ability. Power is used by Incognita, which is the AI program that you use to hack cameras, safes, etc. Each hack requires power, and while you will get +1 at the beginning of each turn, it’s not enough as firewalls increase with the security level constantly increasing.

Your agents can be upgraded, if you so choose to do so – be it through augmentation, weapons, or their stats. Augments can’t be stacked (that is to say, one agent can’t equip the same augment multiple times), but you can mix them for a large advantage. Your speed determines your AP, which is used for performing actions like peeking through doors, or moving about the level. So while upgrading your speed is one way of being able to boost your movement, an augment may give you six AP for meleeing a guard. Considering you’ll probably need to take a guard down anyway, this is really handy. After knocking someone out, you have three turns to do your business and leave before they get up and start searching for you. You can lengthen this time by pinning them down by merely staying on top of them, as this keeps the counter from going down. You can also knock them out again, or… this is not advised most of the time, but you can kill them. While there are times that your hand will be forced, it’ll only make the situation much worse, so if it’s possible, try to stick with knocking guys out, avoiding lines of sight, and hacking machinery when you can. If you are spotted, you have very little movement to avoid getting shot and killed. If you’re right next to the guard, you can attempt to KO or kill them. If you’re close to cover, you can attempt to break his line of sight. Chances are he’ll investigate where he last saw you, so this is when ambushing comes in handy – an ability that attacks when he’s in the square next to you. This tactic is taught to you in the beginning, and it’s invaluable later on.2. Hostile-Takeover

The weakest point of the game is the story, as it’s most likely something you’ve heard before: an underground agency is found out, sent on the run, and must get back to power before they are wiped out. While the premise is simple and could be fleshed out, the extent of the story is seen in a cutscene after the tutorial and after beating the game. In-between missions you’ll see a bit of dialogue between the head of Invisible, Incognita, and the salesmen Monst3r, but nothing to really flesh out the characters or give reason for their mission. The levels themselves are also fairly uneventful, as they all look very similar. Understandably though, as they are randomly generated, and I can’t imagine the inside of a high security office looking much different in Australia than it does in America.

Minor issues aside, fans of stealth based games and the roguelike genre will find a lot to love here. From running different teams, using different gear, ironman runs, endless mode, and more, there’s a lot of content in regards to gameplay. For those that only want the story though, a single playthrough will be sufficient, though there’s no guarantee you’ll make it through alive your first try.

BUY

Pros

  • Finely Tuned Stealth Mechanics
  • Beautiful Animations
  • Cool Techniques/Abilities
  • Advancing Difficulty

Cons

  • Level Aesthetic Monotony
  • Lacking Purpose in Narrative

Invisible, Inc. was developed and published by Klei Entertainment. The game left Early Access on PC May 12, 2015 for $19.99 ($17.99 until May 19th, $15.99 if you own Mark of the Ninja on Steam until May 26th). The PC copy reviewed was provided for us. If you’d like to see more of Invisible, Inc., check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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