Working the Sneaky in Invisible Inc.

Anyone can bluster about like Doom’s space marine, but professional espionage requires a gentler touch. In Klei’s Invisible Inc. you take a two-member team into a building and infiltrate its secrets, using all the tools at your disposal to get in and out and, hopefully, remain unseen. Sneak, scout, hack, and try to avoid detection, because while your crew is made of skilled professionals they aren’t particularly good at soaking up bullets.

Invisible Inc is Klei Entertainment’s new strategy game, and it’s being released in the same fashion that worked so well for Don’t Starve. Right now a very early alpha is available that gets a Steam code is available on via their web, but it’s still pre-Early Access and will remain that way for a while. Early though it is, my hands-on time showed a good level of polish for the features available, and there were a number of options available already to mess with the guards patrolling the area. Admitted, they still took me down before I even completed the tutorial, but the tools were there if only I could have figured out the best way to use them.

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Basically, Invisible Inc. is a turn-based strategy game that’s like a reverse X-Com. Instead of seeking out aliens you’re instructing your agents to hide from guards while sneaking through the building like ghosts, using their action points to move, engage with the guards, and hack consoles to earn CPU points. The agents’ action points control how much they can do, but you as the eye-in-the sky can spend CPU points on things like hacking cameras or making distracting noises for the guards, paving the way for the agents’ success. You only initially see what the agents see, but a bit of stealthy peeking around corners can reveal cameras you can hack to fill you in on details your agents couldn’t see. In all actions it’s best to try to have as light a touch as possible to avoid raising the alert level, because a high alert means more guards and more expensive hacking and there’s only so many CPU points to go around.

Still, success brings rewards, and the two agents level up individually as they succeed at various actions. Each agent has their own specialties, such as stealth, lockpicking, or coming equipped with a tranquilizer gun, so using the right agent in the right situation is one of the keys to success. Sometimes you just have to make due when you’ve split them up, but at least on the level I got to experience there wasn’t any time limit so getting the right agent in place is a matter of patience, assuming the guards aren’t pinning you down.

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At the moment the objectives are pretty simple- get to the elevator, loot safes for bonus goodies, and maybe find an extra helper you can hire along the way.  There’s many a plan for changes and upgrades, including tweaks to level generation, the possible addition of side-quests for each randomly-generated floor, the usual difficulty and balance tweaks any game in alpha can expect to see, and many more that either haven’t been announced or possibly even thought of yet.  Invisible Inc. is too early even for Early Access, but already it’s a sleek, stylish, and highly playable bit of turn-based sneaky strategy.