Invisible, Inc. Will Hurt Your Brain in the Best Way

As someone who plays a great deal of video games, it’s getting increasingly difficult to truly stump me through gameplay. Granted, I get stuck at various points in various games often, just like everyone else, but patterns begin to emerge with experience. This isn’t to say I am the Almighty Lord of Beating Everything; in fact, I’d argue that I’m pretty much average in terms of overall skill. In adventure games, I know to fool around with things in the environment until solutions begin to present themselves. I know that each platformer requires a bit of practice to get used to its individual mechanics. I thought I understood how most turn-based strategy games work, regardless of how innovative their mechanics may be, but Invisible, Inc. proved that every gamer will find their brains turning at 1000 miles per hour at some point.

Think of Invisible, Inc. as the wonderful combination between a stealth title and a turn-based strategy games. On the surface, it seems as though this wouldn’t be a healthy combination. Turn-based games tend to focus on attacking and defending rather than hiding and lurking. Even though Invisible, Inc. finds a way to bend standard turn-based conventions on their head, stealth and turn-based maneuvering is actually a match made in heaven. Players are given the opportunity to think deeply before each of their moves, just as a true master of stealth would. Sure, real-time stealth involves a great deal of snap-decisions, but if someone was incredibly good at hiding, wouldn’t you think he or she would have all the time in the world to plan? Sure, one could simply breeze through each turn without thinking of the consequences (I know I did this at first), but that’s missing the entire point. Invisible, Inc. wants your brain to turn constantly; it wants you to examine every possible action before executing your next move.

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Invisible, Inc. uses the standard “Action Points” counter to limit what a player can do on a given turn. If one has eight points at his or her disposal, he or she could simply move eight spaces and call it a day. Certain abilities cost numerous points, meaning that a risk-reward assessment is required before executing a move. For instance, one character is a master of all things technology, so she has the power to hack devices from afar. One could simply move around with this character, or move into the range of a device, hack it remotely using an ability, and make things easier for every other character in the future. Of course, all this has to be done without alerting any enemies in the area, thus making Invisible, Inc. an incredibly deep experience.

Combat is one of the most exciting aspects of any turn-based experience, as it tends to be the central focus of the mechanic, and Invisible, Inc. certainly doesn’t falter here. Players know when an enemy is about to attack, thus giving them a full turn to plan out a take-down or an evasion method. This creates an opportunity to stop, think about the best solution, and move forward. In what is some of the coolest strategy-based gameplay I’ve seen in quite some time, players can use the absence of stealth as a weapon. If an enemy is on the other side of a door, players can pop into a foe’s point of view to draw him or her out, hide behind a wall, and execute a stealth take-down after the enemy comes to investigate. Most stealth games prioritize never getting seen, and Invisible, Inc. is no exception, but being able to use the alert system as a combat mechanic is brilliant.

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While Invisible, Inc. won’t necessarily blow you away visually, its light blue aesthetic and use of darkness suit it perfectly. Areas out of view are kept in the darkness, and while certain indicators will still emerge here and there, a great deal of mystique arises from this visual cue. Players can open doors to reveal an entire room without having to enter it, adding yet another layer of strategy to the procedings. The quasi-cyberpunk aesthetic makes every moment feel futuristic and downright cool, meaning that Invisible, Inc. is never painful to look at. Its art-style also creates the sense that each level has been designed fully by hand, rather than through procedural generation (a mark of a great randomly-generated title). Invisible, Inc. won’t necessarily push one’s hardware to the limits, but its clean user interface and use of bright colors make it a joy to behold.

Invisible, Inc. is a fresh take on two age-old genres, perfectly blending stealth and top-down strategy. It’s a thinking man’s game that requires patience, intellect, and a general sense of purpose. While it’s great to play mindless beat-’em-ups, hilarious RPGs (read: South Park: The Stick of Truth), and pointless platformers, it’s great to use one’s brain every now and again. If you’re seeking a deeply strategic game with fresh ideas, then look no further, as Invisible, Inc. is the title for you.