Invisible Inc. is a cyberpunk turn-based strategy set in which you control the titular Invisible, a espionage agency that has been crippled by a devastating attack from powerful multinational corporations. As a remote operator for Invisible, you plan and execute covert missions in order to gain resources and information. It’s a game published and made by Klei Entertainment, the company behind Don’t Starve and Mark of the Ninja, among other things. At its core, it’s a tactical stealth game. Your agents start off very poorly equipped and sneaking around without being spotted or leaving a trail of bodies is absolutely vital if you want to succeed. Killing guards is actively discouraged because not only is ammo scarce and expensive, but the guards have heart monitors and if they die, the alarm level of the mission goes up. The higher the alarm level, the tougher the mission will get. So you’re best bet is to stun any guards that are in your way, but unless you have someone nearby to keep them pinned down, they will eventually get back up and start looking for you.
Invisible Inc. is all about careful planning and very precise, deliberate decision-making. Outside of the levels being procedurally generated, there’s nothing random about the mechanics. Weapons don’t have a chance to hit like in something like XCOM – if you are in range and meet the necessary prerequisites, you will land the shot 100%. The challenging part is figuring out when and where to strike. If you do make a mistake, the game has a rewind system that allows you to back one turn and try again – depending on what difficulty you’re playing on, you could have as many as five rewinds, or as few as one. That being said, Invisible Inc. is very flexible when it comes to difficulty and has a plethora of options if you want to create your own custom experience. It’s very much a game based around replayability. Since your agency only has 72 hours before the mandatory final mission starts, you will be able to take on a very limited ammount of missions to get ready. Whether you succeed or not, every playthrough gives you XP, which in turn unlocks new agents and new starting abilities for Incognita, your sophisticated AI system.
Invisible Inc. encourages experimentation with different loadouts and teams. It’s very roguelike in that sense, which is my main problem with it.
Let me just preface this by saying that the following is entirely a matter of personal preference. I don’t have objective reasons for disliking the mechanics of Invisible Inc. They’re simplistic, but deliberately so and are otherwise quite robust. It’s a challenging, thoughtful game with a very distinct and memorable art style. I would have much rather preffered a full campaign as opposed to the roguelike short-but-sweet approach that Klei went with. The 72 hour time limit does give the whole thing a sense of urgency and makes every decision count in a big way, but it doesn’t really give the story, world or characters enough room to be fully developed. Your agents have detailed backstories that don’t factor into anything and besides occassionally having a quip, they’re primarily distinguished by their skills and abilities. The ending also didn’t really give me any sense of closure or satisfaction.
I would have loved a longer campaign with more missions that allowed you to properly build-up your agency and get to know the people that work for it. I would have also greatly appreciated a much deeper story that explored this intriguing cyberpunk world more fully. Once again, this is personal preference. I generally like roguelike games. Hell, one of my favorite games is The Binding of Isaac. I just wished Invisible Inc. didn’t go down that route. It’s not a bad game, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s very well made, with an expansive list of options and modes that offers players a ton of replay value. However, having beaten it once, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to it soon. I came in expecting something else out of Invisible Inc. and it’s not really the game’s fault that it wasn’t what I would have liked to see. If you’re not like me and you’re OK with this being more roguelike, then I absolutely recommend that you check it out.