Have you ever wanted to play a game that makes you feel like you’re playing Ocean’s Eleven? Add to that being set in a future where technology was super advanced and have it play similarly to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, sounds interesting right? Welcome to Invisible Inc.
Invisible Inc. sees you take control of a thief organisation of the same name, you make your living robbing corporations and you’re good at it. However the corporations have found you, they forced you out of your base and are hunting you down. You have only 72 hours to get the skills and info you need to infiltrate their main facility and take it down, feel up to the challenge?
I said the game played like XCOM, meaning it’s a turned based strategy game though this one is focused on stealth. You take on the role of a remote operator. You choose two agents and two starting programs (I’ll get onto these later). You use these two agents to infiltrate corporations, avoid guards, steal everything you can and then get them out. It’s fairly standard turn based gameplay, but with a good twist. The twist being those programs and how you use them.
You have an A.I. called Incognita that you can use to hack into things all over the level. Hack security cameras to take them over, hack laser grids to shut them down, hack safes to open them and so on. You break down the firewalls around the devices using your programs and then take control. This is where the game gets the feeling of being an Ocean’s movie. As your agents come up to a door to a room with a camera, you hack it and the camera suddenly shuts off. They approach a corner with a robot waiting round it? Suddenly the robot turns around and walks away, because you hacked it and made it walk away. It gives the impression that everything falls into place for your agents just as they need it to, like it’s all going according to plan.
How you play the game is fairly dependant on how your current run of the game goes. The level generation is totally randomised, as are the programs and items you can find. You can pick your two starting agents and two starting programs. Lockpick (breaks one firewall at the cost of two power) and Power Drip (+1 power every turn) are a solid pairing despite being the first two you have unlocked.
From there though everything is up to chance, maybe you do a few missions and find a lethal weapon. You might not have intended to kill anyone but this item is too good not to use, so you start playing a different way. Maybe you rescue a third agent (you can have up to four) and start spreading your team out more. The way you play really depends on what the game feels like giving you, and what you aim for when selecting missions.
See when you pick a mission you choose it knowing the sort of thing you’re going for. Some missions you know will get you an item, some will let you buy new programs from a randomised selection and various other objectives. You have to prioritise though, as that 72 hours I mentioned earlier is important. When you select missions you see them on a world map, and how long it will take you to get there.
Oh sure you have a keycard to rob a vault, but the only vault you know about is in Asia and you’re in North America. Are you going to spend 12 hours of your precious time flying over there to rob it? What if you do that and you balls up the mission? You’ll have wasted 12 hours. Worse yet what if you do what I did once and take the flight, start the mission, get to the vault door and realise you forgot to bring the key.
I LEFT IT ON THE HELICOPTER! HOW COULD I LEAVE IT ON THE HELICOPTER!
Uhh, anyway. Time management is important. In 72 hours you have to do the final mission, a rather tough and long mission that you will need good skills, equipment and programs to survive. A bit of creativity with simple abilities can go a long way to help though. I remember a point where one of my agents was pinned down, their location about to be investigated. So I have the other loudly sprint to an open door, attracting the attention with the noise and then being seen, only to close the door and place an electro trap on it. Letting my first agent escape and simultaneously knocking out the guard.
The technology is a lovely touch to the game, feeling quite Deus Ex-like in some places. One starting character, Internationale, has a brain augment that lets her drain computers of their power from a distance. Allowing her to just float through the level sucking up all the power nearby. Or perhaps we can talk about the items, like the Cloaking Rig, a suit that allows an agent to go invisible for one turn or more and run around without a care in the world.
There’s one more mechanic I haven’t mentioned yet, and it’s rewinds. The game knows you’re going to mess up sometimes, so it gives you rewinds. These let you turn the game back to the start of your last turn, maybe it’s to save an agents life or to avoid getting caught by a guard you didn’t know was coming into the room. Either way, they are useful to stop you from just losing all hope that you can get out of the current situation well.
They aren’t a total get out of jail free card though, you only have five of them if you play on Beginner Mode, the easiest difficulty. Move up to Experienced though and you only have three. Then get to the final difficulty, Expert, the base difficulty and tuning for the game, according to the developers, and you’ll only have one rewind per mission.
There is a custom settings option though, so you can tweak settings anyway you like to create your own favourite style of run in Invisible Inc.
There’s one more touch I really like in the game, it’s not really a feature. It’s just a small way of handling something that I appreciated. When you’re down to your last agent, cornered with your back against the wall and no way out, the game is done – it’s over. You failed. The game gives you one last moment of defiant control, to accept defeat and be witty about it. You can have your agent deliver their famous last words and make your final quip before the bullet goes and the campaign ends. It’s a brilliant touch because it gives you that small way to own your defeat.
The game is not flawless though, at least not on PS4. The flaws manifest as some minor technical problems. The game is prone to slow done at times, straight up freezing for up to five seconds at some points and delaying/dropping inputs every now and then. It’s not bad enough that it ruins the experience, but it is a big enough problem that it gets in the way of your enjoyment at times. Particularly when you waste power hacking something you didn’t want to because the game lagged on your button presses.
Another minor niggle is the tactical mode the game includes on console. Which ditches the stylish looks of the game for a simplistic colour-based mode that allows you to see through walls and obstacles. The mode is quite useful, but the game doesn’t let any action take place in it. This means you can turn it on to get a clearer view of where you can run to, and then when you run it snaps off only to snap back on when you finish running. The same applies for any action your character takes, it makes for a rather irritating assault on the eyes.
Overall Invisible Inc is a fantastic blend of feeling like a god of technology, sweeping through areas hacking everything, and then feeling like a frightened little kitten as you have four agents crushing themselves against a box to avoid getting seen by the one guard walking through the room. It’s a game I can highly recommend for anyone who enjoys turn based strategy. It’s currently available on PC, Mac and PS4.