The year 2023 has been a great one for gaming, with a constant barrage of smash hits releasing left, right, and center throughout the year. From surprise hits like Hi-Fi Rush to indie gems like Viewfinder and expansive epics like Starfield, there’s no shortage of great games that have consumed our time and thoughts for dozens upon dozens of hours.
Of course, the year is far from over – and plenty of great games are just looming over the horizon. Over the coming weeks and months, the games that will be the most talked about are going to be Spider–Man 2 and Alan Wake 2 alongside a few other AAA releases.
But the one game that I am really excited about – the one game that has perhaps not seen the amount of love or hype it deserves – is The Invincible from Starward Industries. We previously covered this game in a highlight feature last year. Since then – the developer has released plenty of new details about the game and its workings that have us super excited about this upcoming release.
The Invincible is all about exploring the alien planet of Regis 3 as our protagonist Yasna crashes into this hostile world and is separated from the rest of her crew. As you can already imagine, the basic premise is as predictable as ever for a sci-fi story about survival – but that initial premise is a mere facade that hides behind it a larger narrative that touches on heavy themes like discovery and the very essence of human nature.
You see, The Invincible is largely based off of the novel of the same name and those familiar with this novel would know its penchant for marrying sci-fi elements with philosophical themes in a rather unique way. And because the developers are trying to capture the same magic as the books, there’s a great chance that the story of Yasna and her quest for survival will be one that will be a thought-provoking tale that will stay with players long after the credits roll.
CD Projekt RED attempted a similar feat with Cyberpunk 2077 that not only transports players to a futuristic dystopia but also poses heavy questions about freedom in a world ruled by corps and the meaning of existence itself. And that only works because V gets to make a choice at several critical moments and witness the consequences of those decisions right in front of him. Depending on what you choose during these critical moments, the story can take a sharp turn which makes those choices seem impactful and lets the player interpret the philosophical meaning behind it all.
Then it makes complete sense that The Invincible also features a story where your actions have an impact on the plot, and thankfully that’s just the case. After all, the medium of games is all about interactivity – and giving players the agency to shift the narrative according to their choices is a great way of enriching the experience of a novel through a video game. Starward Industries has already clarified that players will be able to make some important decisions that will dictate the character arc of our protagonist Yasna. Not only that, but these decisions will also impact the larger world around her, which will ultimately create different endings based on your decisions in the story.
However, unlike Cyberpunk 2077’s V, Yasna doesn’t seem to be a blank slate of a character. Instead, she has a fleshed-out backstory and shares certain relationships with her crewmates – which the developer says will be equally complex characters with their own motivations and flaws. Conversations in The Invincible will rarely be simple, and Yasna will have to carefully assess the situation and the ulterior motives behind each word to be able to make a decision that best suits her interest. All in all, navigating through conversations seems to be an important part of The Invincible – and the tone of writing and the philosophical nature of the overarching narrative should come together to make this simple act interesting and a lot more engaging.
In addition to how Starward Industries is handling The Invincible’s narrative, one of the more interesting things about the game is its world. As you can already see in trailers and footage, The Invincible’s flavor of sci-fi has a retro touch to it. So while you will see advanced technology fitted within the spaceships and robotic creatures roaming the planet of Regis-3, most of them still have clicky buttons and radio antennas which gives the world a rather distinct feel.
This unique art direction also extends over to the environment design as well. The planet of Regis 3 is littered with unique flora and fauna, including but not limited to weird metallic plants that grow out of this alien planet’s soil. It’s very likely that the final game will have even more of such weird flora and fauna, which should help in making a player uneasy by playing on one’s unfamiliarity with the surroundings. There are plenty of other such touches and embellishments peppered throughout the game that come together to make this world feel like a believable place, and we’re really excited to see what the developer has in store for us with the final release.
Contrary to what conventional notions might suggest, a book is always judged by its cover. And In a similar vein, a game’s graphics have a huge impact on how anyone perceives the product at first glance. The folks over at Starward Industries know this, and The Invincible does a good job of presenting its unique brand of sci-fi with a high level of visual fidelity and a consistent art direction. The game is developed using Unreal Engine and makes good use of that technology to craft a crisp image that looks pleasing to the eyes and has a level of fidelity that matches the best of AAA games.
To be honest, The Invincible isn’t doing something extraordinary. Most if not all of its ideas have been executed to great effect in plenty of other games, but what makes it so intriguing is the world it’s set in and the themes it tries to tackle with its story. Starward Industries has tried to focus on telling a very specific kind of story without bothering with additional gameplay elements or mechanics that would distract from what it wants to say. As such, it’s quite likely that The Invincible might not be everyone’s cup of tea with its slow-burn narrative and non-action-focused gameplay. But there’s a great chance that those who jive with it will find a lot to love in this sci-fi adventure.
Of course, all these praises come from someone who is hopefully optimistic about the game. But there’s always a chance that The Invincible may not live up to its potential – which is why it’s advisable to not let one’s expectations run wild before the game is even out. That said, we are less than a month away from the game’s release on November 9 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S – so thankfully we don’t have to wait too long to see whether the game is worth the hype or not. We will be checking the game out on release, so stay tuned for our review and post-game coverage in the meantime.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.