Windows Central Verdict
The landscape of Regis III is as stunning as it is haunting, and Yasna's journey in this unusual land is rife with philosophical and moral conundrums that leave you with plenty to think about even after the credits roll.
Retro-futuristic atompunk technology and machinery feels real and believable.
The narrative is well written and engaging.
The run time doesn't over stay its welcome, wrapping up in less than 8 hours.
Easy to replay narrative branches to experience different outcomes.
Character and vehicle movement is painfully slow.
Lack of waypoints and limited visual indicators can leave you lost or looping areas without progress.
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- What is The Invincible?
- Performance & stability
- Visuals & soundtrack
- Story & world
- Accessibility & approachability
- Final thoughts
Logic tells me that waking up on a seemingly barren planet with a headache wouldn’t exactly be a good time. And yet, waking up as Yasna all alone on Regis III immediately hooked me into the story that The Invincible had to tell.
Regis III is a sprawling planet lit by a red dwarf sun that casts a haunting red-orange hue across the landscape. Uncovering the secrets below the sandy surface of Regis III will require the player to choose whether to embrace hope or accept the gravity of surviving alone. Moral and philosophical choices weigh heavily on the player as Yasna searches for her missing team in a Firewatch-inspired “walksploration” adventure.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by 11 Bit Studios. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
What is The Invincible?
- Price: $29.99 (Xbox) | $29.99 (Steam)
- Release date: November 6
- Developer: Starward Industries
- Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
- Genre: Adventure
- Players: Single-player
- Install size: 39.08 GB
- Playtime: 7+ hours
- Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC
- Xbox Game Pass: No
- Reviewed on: Steam
Based on a novel of the same name by Polish author Stanislaw Lem, The Invincible is a first-person sci-fi adventure that puts players in the space boots of a biologist named Doctor Yasna. Yasna is part of a larger crew of astronauts but awakens alone on the planet after losing consciousness while exploring. Yasna’s search for her team leads her to discover exceptional inorganic phenomena that just might challenge everything you think you know about biology.
Players experience Regis III through Yasna’s eyes using atompunk-style tools including a beacon to locate crew members and other items of interest, along with a radio with which she can communicate with her Astrogator, Novik. With Novik's guidance, players will be forced to make decisions for Yasna that result in narrative branches. The Invincible features multiple endings that are directly affected by the player's choices.
Adapted from the novel of the same name, The Invincible pushes players to make moral decisions while alone on a haunting planet shrouded in mystery. Can you find your missing crew and discover what is growing beneath the surface of Regis III?
The Invincible review: Performance and stability
On PC, The Invincible was incredibly smooth to play, maintaining a steady frame rate throughout the 7-hour runtime even when the game's settings were maxed out. While I didn't experience any hard crashes or forced closures while playing The Invincible, I did run into two areas in the game that required me to restart previous checkpoints.
In both events, Yasna was set to awaken to progress the story, however, the character's eyes would remain closed and the animation to open them would not trigger. This meant I could still hear what was happening around Yasna, and even tell via light sources that her head was being moved when I fiddled with the thumb sticks on my controller.
Even when the game became soft-locked it did not crash, stutter or have any other issue. I was still able to pause and navigate the menus. To alleviate the soft-lock, I just had to pause and choose to restart the checkpoint. The Invincible's checkpoints are frequent, and only a few seconds were lost the two times this occurred.
The Invincible review: Visuals and soundtrack
Developed in Unreal Engine, The Invincible is set on a distant planet with sprawling landscapes that are visually striking and serve as the perfect backdrop for the in-game photo mode. The skybox is filled with wispy clouds, the occasional distant starship, and foreboding planets that loom above the horizon.
While it's easy enough to get lost in The Invincible's heavens, it's equally easy to miss the awe-inspiring details that are literally at Yasna's feet. In sandy areas, players can turn around to see a lone pair of footprints marking their trail. Vehicles, campsites, and living quarters are crafted in incredible detail. Animations, too, are given careful attention to detail. Even just navigating through Yasna's astrojournal triggers smooth animations of the pages being turned.
While the game is from a first-person perspective, Yasna will occasionally encounter other characters, mostly via flash-back sequences. While there's nothing in particular that stands out as 'wrong' with these character models, they do have that older "Unreal Engine" look to them, with stringy hair textures and almost wax-like faces. It's better to focus on the achievement of the environmental design than the character models with this one.
The Invincible review: Story and world
While The Invincible is an adaption of the 1964 novel by Stanislaw Lem, Starward Industries did take some creative liberties with the title. Doctor Yasna, the playable protagonist, is an entirely new creation for the game, and it is through her eyes that players experience the arid, bleak planet of Regis III. Yasna awakens at the beginning of the game following a brief moment of memory loss, confused and alone. With the help of her beacon and a backpack of limited but necessary gear, the player can begin to guide Yasna back to her base camp.
Upon arrival at the camp, Yasna discovers that her crewmates are also missing, setting her off on an adventure to recover her team. She's not entirely alone, as she is able to contact her Astrogator and team commander, Novik, via radio. Novik can give Yasna guidance and provides both the character and the player some company along with narrative exposition as they trek across the sandy landscape.
The decisions made by the player have a direct effect on the game's story, and there are multiple endings that can be unlocked depending on the branches of the narrative that the player selects. In one instance, players must decide if Yasna will sacrifice her own oxygen tank to save a disoriented crew member, though the weight of that decision is not revealed until later.
The Invincible review: Gameplay
The Invincible belongs to a genre of gameplay that I like to affectionately refer to as "walksploration". There are certainly things you can interact with in the world, but overall your goal is to walk and explore as the story unfolds. This makes the fact that my two main complaints about the game fall under the 'gameplay' category a bit disappointing.
My primary issue with The Invincible is Yasna's slow pace. I get it, she's an astronaut on a distant planet wearing a heavy space suit. It makes sense for her to move slowly. However, we've suspended disbelief enough to consider a world where inorganic material can evolve and grow into giant metal bushes. It's okay to expand that disbelief and put a little extra pep in Yasna's step. There is the option to hold down the right bumper and make her run for a short burst, but she quickly becomes winded, and her movement becomes even slower than before.
Despite clearly being affected by an arbitrary stamina measurement, there are no stamina or health bars to be seen. You're left to rely on Yasna's audio and behavior cues for that.
The second issue with The Invincible's gameplay is the absence of a mini-map or waypoints. Because the game is centered on exploration, it is expected of the player to just roam freely. Unfortunately, a lot of areas in the landscape are very similar, and there are not enough identifying landmarks to make it easy to travel from one point to the next. It can also be easy to miss side stories that are hidden away without any markers or indicators.
Despite the clear and present threats on Regis III, there's no combat, need for stealth mechanics, or a health bar for players to worry about in The Invincible. While the moral dilemmas you are forced to grapple with may haunt your soul, you can relax knowing you're not going to have to die and try again at any point. The game does feature narrative branches, as previously mentioned, and the choice you make during your play through unlocks a corresponding comic panel. Should you decide you want to make another choice and see a different outcome, you can do so by returning to that panel as if it were a mission-select.
The Invincible Review: Accessibility and approachability
The Invincible does not feature any combat, nor does it have difficulty settings. The game is narrative-focused with an emphasis on the exploration of the planet, making it very approachable. While there are certainly intense moments in the game, there is nothing that would require strenuous inputs, nor are there any quick-time interactions. The game is meant to be played at your pace and on your terms. However, there are occasional instances where Yasna's window to respond or engage in conversation is timed and can be cut off if the player does not open the dialogue panel by pressing the left trigger before the meter runs out.
There is an accessibility tab in The Invincible's menus which allows players to check whether they want a semi-transparent background visible behind subtitles, and toggles for hints. There is also the option to increase the font size of the subtitles. The subtitles are not closed captioned, and there are some audio cues (as with the previously mentioned stamina) that players who are hard of hearing may miss out on because of that.
The Invincible review: Final thoughts
You should play this if ...
✅You like exploring on your own terms to discover a story
So many game developers strive to create 100+ hour epic adventures with browbeating boss battles. It's great that Starward Industries saw fit to make The Invincible a respectable 8-10 hour long game that you can pick up and experience at your own pace and on your own terms. The narrative unfolds with you, and the decisions you make will stick with you long after the game is done.
You should not play this if ...
❌You are impatient or want a faster-paced action-adventure
The Invincible's has plenty of moments that will have you holding your breath, but it is a 'walksploration' at its heart. You're not going to be engaging in magic-infused battles with giant robot overlords. You're not even going to walk at a brisk pace, for that matter. That slower gameplay is ultimately fine —but it's not for everyone.
11 Bit Studios gets to add another incredible title to its already stacked publishing portfolio. 2023 has been an overwhelming year stacked with some of the best Xbox games, and The Invincible is certainly another excellent title that you don't want to miss out on. The narrative storytelling and haunting realization of the effects of your choices will inevitably keep you coming back to see everything that this indie has to offer.
The shorter run time means you can easily knock the game out throughout a couple of afternoons or in one good run during the weekend. Meanwhile, the lack of combat doesn't mean that this mystery planet full of weird metal structures and bushes isn't extremely creepy. You're going to want to keep pushing through the frustratingly slow walking speed, if for nothing more than to figure out what is actually happening on Regis III.
Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.
Consider, adding this to your review “Regarding its visual style, let’s put it this way: If “The Invincible” had been presented as a graphic novel or a manga, it wouldn’t look like this. It would look like a video game, which is exactly what this looks like.Reply
Stellar review, Cole….after I switched to Reader View and got rid of all the ads! ( I miss magazines sometimes). I didn’t even know The Invincible was a thing until today and now I’m going to pre-purchase it. I have to because I cant read or speak Polish.