Invisible Inc. – Full Release (Review)

Invisible Inc.I’ve written about Invisible Inc. before. At the time, I said it was playable, interesting, and very polished for an early access game.

Yesterday, Invisible Inc. stopped being an Early Access game, joining the sparse ranks of Early Access games that actually got anywhere. Theoretically, at this point, Invisible Inc. should be totally polished and complete.

Everything I said in my previous review still applies – the game has been updated, not drastically altered. The gameplay appears functionally unchanged, with the same turn-based stealth missions controlling in the same way. It’s still tense, it still requires you to plan ahead. It’s exactly the sort of gameplay I like.

One welcome addition appears to be the variety of recruitable agents on offer – last I checked, you started with two agents, and could unlock two more. Now, my campaign setup screen has an enticing row of silhouettes for me to unlock. Similarly, there is now a multitude of campaign options, allowing you to customise the rules that you play under. That’s a good sign – it suggests that the game will be interesting on future playthroughs, rather than just something completed once and then ignored.

The most noticeable change is the presentation of it all – there’s now a tutorial that walks you through the basics of movement and stealth. The campaign now starts with  a video (still in the Noir graphic novel style of the rest of the game) setting up the story and the time constraints. Lastly, and I could be misremembering this, the visuals in missions seem to have been touched up a little – animations seem a tad crisper, etc.

The overall effect is of another coat of varnish on what was already a pretty polished game. Invisible Inc. never had the cobbled-together shoestring-budget look of so many Early Access games, but now the whole thing looks not just competent but professional and impressive.

With the addition of video cut-scenes, the setting becomes more clear. Initially, I assumed that Invisible Inc. was set during the Cold War, with the technology flung forwards a little. The video shows off more of the technology, making the game seem sci-fi with Noir elements, rather than Noir with sci-fi. Your agents still wear trench coats, but now they wear them in stealth jets. It’s a change in tone – a difference, not a positive or negative; I’m equally happy with either setting.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say that the character screens can be a little confusing – in between missions, you can upgrade your agents, spending money to gain them greater proficiency at certain skills. You can also upgrade your agents through the use of augmentations and equipment. All of that’s great, but I find it a little paralysing – I’m unsure what’s worth getting and what isn’t. The game does tell you the effects of each skill, but a little more obvious context would be helpful – does the neuraliser count as a melee weapon? How do I choose between augments? I can work it all out, but I do have a tendency, when faced with slightly murky leveling choices in games, to just try and beat the game at level one so I don’t waste my points.

But that’s a personal failing, and one that I try to work on. It is not Invisible Inc.’s fault that I am overly cautious with level avancement.  A little bit of clarification on exactly which stats turn out to be vital would be lovely, but I’ll quite happily work it out for myself.

Overall, Invisible Inc. is a great game. It’s visually very appealing, the gameplay is unusual and engrossing, the concept is one that I wish more games would explore. Bond-esque spy agencies are fertile ground for games, I feel – they have a profusion of ridiculous weapons, danger-filled environments and colour-coded antagonists. Tying all of that together – gameplay, setting, visuals – is the polish. Everything works well together, nothing jars.

Klei Entertainment has a track record now of producing games that flow, that impress, that are visually arresting without aiming for realism. Invisible Inc. is no exception. It’s a beautiful game.

When half-finished, Invisible Inc. was streets ahead of other Early Access games. Now it’s finished, it stacks up well against games as a whole. I’d recommend it.

The game’s website is here, and it is available on Steam. It’s well worth the price.

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