As we reach the penultimate title in Sony’s Launch Party 2016 promotion we come to what could be considered an outlier in that it was released for Steam almost a year ago. It drew positive reviews, and Klei has gone ahead and packed in the post-launch expansion Contingency Plan as well to create Invisible Inc. Console Edition. Smoothness in the PC to PS4 transition isn’t assured, however, so let’s see how deftly it was handled for this stealth-centric game.
While I’ve no doubt the setup was smoother using a mouse, Invisible Inc. has been ported smartly to the PS4 controller. The triggers are used to zoom, the shoulder buttons cycle through your agents and clicking the analog sticks rotate the room and toggle between standard and tactical view, respectively. Granted, all that can be a bit cumbersome, but it’s a turn-based game so there’s no rush.
Where the game struggles is in readability. There is a bevy of small text that can be difficult to read, and undersized object-specific icons sprawl in multiple directions. For example, you could be in position to interact with a door (peak in or close it), a machine (hack it) and a guard (track his movement). It may not sound like much, but given the diminutive size of the text and icons it’s not uncommon to click on the wrong one — hopefully it’ll just burn an action point and not tip your location.
You’ll also switch between agent actions and your A.I., Incognita, which can be used to do things like hack corporate safes, allowing you access to the good inside, or security cameras to avoid detection. Again it can be a dicey proposition figuring out which device you have selected, and it doesn’t always seem to nimbly go from one to the next when you’re trying to isolate what you want to hack.
Again, the game’s turn-based nature allows you to work around these shortcomings with patience and concentration — two traits that are critical to success anyway — so they’re not overly detrimental. Just keep in mind that unless you’re really close to your television it may be an issue.
When you’re in standard view the game has an interesting style, featuring the angular characters Klei has long favored and respectable detail on the procedurally generated levels. Of course, you’ll likely spend about 10 percent of your time in standard because it’s extremely difficult to see what’s going on no matter how much you rotate and zoom the levels.
To actually function in the game’s exacting world you’ll need to use the tactical view, which shows the grid squares movement is based on as well as where exits are located. It’s an invaluable tool to success, but it’s not much fun to look at; an issue that has become more common where “instincts” bathe the world in muted tons for strategic advantage — think Rise of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry Primal and Hitman just in the past several months.
There isn’t a lot going on with the audio. Decent but instantly forgettable music hums along while you plan out your approach, which is fine since you wouldn’t want the distraction of a pulsating soundtrack. Voice is acting is fine for what it is.
In the late 21st century, megacorporations rule the world. Your company, the titular Invisible Inc., is an intelligence gathering agency specializing in infiltration. Somebody isn’t on board with your clandestine activities, however, and your headquarters is compromised. This starts a 72-hour clock ticking on your A.I. Incognita, which requires power and must be reinserted into a mainframe.
While Invisible Inc. is a turn-based tactical game, it also places a premium on resource management — whether that’s time, equipment or upgrades. Missions are chosen by you, each with different rewards, risks and time cost associated with them. Do you target a lab with upgrades for your agents? Or a holding facility where one of your own has been captured?
Limiting your available resources adds weight to every choice, but it also feels a little overdone as things like credits and gear are in incredibly such short supply. You can liberate credits from hacked safes or unaware/unconscious guards during levels; it’s just that no matter what you never seem to acquire enough to make a significant difference in your agent’s loadout or upgradable skills.
Infiltrating is equal parts challenging and rewarding. The grid-based levels are procedurally generated, so each time you enter you’ll need to explore the often sprawling locales. What makes Invisible Inc. unique is how vulnerable you are. Agents with stun rods can knock out certain types of guards for a few turns, but others are immune to its effects — and given the dearth of lethal options it makes avoidance the only viable alternative.
Patience is obviously important, but the game won’t allow loitering indefinitely. An alert meter rises incrementally with each turn, and actions like being spotted by a camera or hacking a daemon machine will raise it even faster. Every six segments the Alert Level will increase, which does things like raising the cost to hack machines, activating more cameras or adding patrolling guards.
It’s an intense experience (even with the limited ability to rewind turns), but one that’s over pretty quick. And while you’ll unlock new agents and abilities for Incognita, your inventory, credits and agent upgrades all reset, which brings us full circle to the aforementioned lack of resources. It’s still worth multiple trips on escalating difficulty settings, but I would’ve preferred more tangible progression.
Invisible Inc. Console Edition is most definitely a “your mileage may vary” game. If you like a deliberate, cerebral challenge, it’s great fun. If you abhor the thought of not being able to shoot your way out, this isn’t for you.