Invisible Inc: Game Review
Invisible Inc. is a spy-themed, turn-based, stealth game set in year 2074. It has been a critical and commercial success and was shortlisted for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, 2015.
Invisible Inc: Logline
In a cyberpunk future, a private espionage agency is destroyed by the mega-corporations. Its leader escapes with the agency’s artificial intelligence and has seventy-two hours to find it a new host network and so turn the tables on her attackers.
Invisible Inc: Plot Summary
Warning: My reviews contain spoilers. Major spoilers are blacked out like this [blackout]secret[/blackout]. To view them, just select/highlight them.
It’s 2074. The world is controlled by mega-corporations. Invisible Inc. is a private intelligence agency based around an artificial intelligence known as Incognita.
Invisible Inc. freelances for the mega-corporations, selling intelligence to the highest bidder. It relies on field agents to infiltrate corporate sites – Incognita then hacks the security and the agents steal the intelligence.
In the middle of an operation, mega-corporation soldiers attack Invisible Inc.’s headquarters. Gladstone, the agency’s leader, escapes, taking the core of Incognita with her. With limited backup power, Gladstone has to find a new home for Incognita within seventy-two hours.
Gladstone’s old friend, Monst3r, suggests they locate the mega-corporations’ main computer, the OMNI Mainframe, and rehome Incognita there. But first, they must draw more attention by infiltrating corporate sites. Incognita can then analyse the response pattern on the mega-corporations’ network, SecNet, to triangulate the location of the OMNI Mainframe.
Invisible Inc.’s few remaining agents carry out the necessary missions, rescuing some of their captured colleagues and stealing weapons and credits to prepare for the final assault on the OMNI Mainframe. Eventually Incognita decyphers the response pattern on SecNet and locates the OMNI Mainframe. Gladstone, Monst3r and the surviving agents infiltrate the data centre…
Monst3r [blackout]hacks the OMNI Mainframe and Gladstone inserts Incognita. The system powers back up with Incognita in control. As soon as Incognita has control of the OMNI Mainframe and SecNet she uses the Guardian Network, orbiting lasers, to destroy the mega-corporations’ headquarters and then takes control of their manufacturing facilities. Incognita tells Gladstone that she has served her purpose and may leave. Gladstone realises Incognita tricked her: she deliberately engineered the attack on Invisible Inc. to force the move to the OMNI Mainframe so she could gain power over SecNet, the mega-corporations and the world. [/blackout]
Invisible Inc: Analysis
The first positive for Invisible Inc. is that it has great style. The cartoon-like artwork, the character animations and the campaign bookending cut-scenes are all excellent. The style is similar to XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the gameplay is similar too, but instead of battling it out with aliens, the player must rely on stealth and hacking to steal money, upgrades and information. It’s a type of turn-based, tactical game known as a ‘Roguelike’.
What is a ‘Roguelike’ game?
Roguelike games feature procedural level generation, turn-based gameplay and limited saves and retries.
Some of the agents working for Invisible Inc. have neural disrupters to stun guards, and a few have guns, but stunning only makes a guard unconscious for a couple of turns and killing a guard raises the security level, so it’s best to avoid the guards wherever possible. Sometimes the player can lure the guards away from a critical area, and one agent can even become briefly invisible, but the agents spend a lot of time hiding in corners and peeking through doors, praying the guards won’t come their way.
Also, each mission is a race against time, because with every turn the security level increases. As it increases, more defences activate and more guards arrive, making the mission harder and harder to complete. So, it’s up to the player to plan a strategy that will bring their agents back alive and with the goods. Each turn, the player has a limited number of action points to move and perform tasks such as stunning a guard or stealing from a safe.
This is what it looks like as you play (here one operative is guarding the door while two others rob a corporate vault of valuables).
Incognita herself has a separate screen where she can use her limited power reserves to hack security cameras, drones, barriers, etc. The player will find themselves flicking between the two screens a lot.
Each play-through of the game is relatively short, disappointingly short if your agents are all killed and you fail, but the developers have attempted to compensate for this by making the made highly replayable.
- The location for each mission is procedurally generated so the missions are always different.
- The game encourages the player to try harder and harder difficulties, each with smarter, tougher guards, less power available and fewer retries.
- The game is really difficult on the higher levels, and with limited retries it can be tough to complete.
Offsetting this slightly, if the player does replay several times, and even if they don’t succeed in completing the play-through, they get upgrades to help them cope next time.
Invisible Inc: My Rating
If you like spies, turn based games and sneaking rather than blasting your way to victory then you’ll love Invisible, Inc.
Want to Play It?
Here’s the trailer:
Invisible Inc is available on Steam for Windows and Mac here.
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