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Invisible, Inc Puts On A Great Showing

As one of the most finicky of the core gamers, it is remarkable that a game can hold my attention for six hours straight.  Invisible, Inc succeeded, a squad-based stealth infiltration game that tasks players with guiding cybernetically-enhanced spies through procedurally generated facilities in a futuristic corporate utopia.
While the premise is fantastic, my weakness has always been for great game mechanics.   You can not do much better than a deep turn-based game that lets you perform every move, down to the finest detail.  There is next to no randomness so, unlike XCOM, if your operatives fail to make a shot then it is because you utilized them incorrectly.  It feels fantastic to be a gamer again; perhaps it is my declining reflexes, but real time games have always been frustrating for their denying me this level of control.

The outer shell of the game is a world map in which you purchase skill upgrades for your operatives and select a mission from the world map.  Each session of Invisible, Inc gives you 72 hours to build up your forces: infiltrate vaults for money, mainframes to get programs for your artificial intelligence, nano fabricators to craft equipment, and so on.  You start with two agents that you choose from a roster.  Losing (or finishing) the campaign rewards you with experience that unlocks more agents and such for future runs.

Once you arrive at a facility, it is time for the meat of the game, the squad-based stealth action gameplay.  Fighting is not the goal here, the goal is to retrieve resources and get out alive.  The facility is randomly generated, so it is a genuinely new challenge every time.  Each turn, each agent gets a number of action points based upon their "stealth" skill, and you can spend these in any order.  Movement points are mostly spent moving or looking around corners, most other actions do not take any movement points.  There is no time limit, but there is a turn limit: the longer you take, the more reinforced the facility becomes, so you need to plan for your agents to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Interestingly, there are no hit points in this game, so being hit with a lethal munition will immediately incapacitate your agents, but you can stabilize them with certain items or abilities.  When a guard finds your agent, they will shoot them, but the shot does not get fired immediately.  Instead, the agent will either be shot at the start of the next turn or if they attempt to move or perform most actions while the guard has them in their sights.  Thus, you can try to rescue that agent by incapacitating the guard with another agent or by using certain items (such a stun dart).   I have found that agents can also escape being shot if they are able to step into adjacent cover or break the line of sight between them and the enemy by shutting a door.

The lethality of the combat model extends to your enemies as well, but killing enemies is generally bad form.  They are usually carrying heartbeat monitors that will heighten the alert levels of the facility, and also it costs hush money.  For this reason, all of your agents carry "neutralizers," stun guns that will render guards unconscious for a certain number of turns.   Certain guards are "armored," which is countered with "armor piercing" equipment and augments, and there are also robotic adversaries which cannot be incapacitated but do not carry heartbeat monitors nor require paying hush money after the mission.
In addition to the squad-based combat, you can tap the space bar to enter a secondary level in which "Incognita," your corporate artificial intelligence, can hack devices (such as power sources and safes), generate distractions, and so on depending on what programs you have recovered.  Each of these actions cost power units which are mostly recovered by your agents by hacking terminals in the field.  In this futuristic world, infiltration is impossible without the services Incognita provides.

Overall, a fantastic game created by one of the finest indy developers on the planet.   Klei Entertainment are also the minds behind Don't Starve, Torchlight II, and Mark Of The Ninja.  While "early access" might be wasted on some studios, clearly these guys have a serious, vested interest in actually using that time to enrich the game.  Over time, Invisible, Inc has grown to have lots of cool cyberware, programs, other spy devices, and enemies. I expect it will be richly deserving of lots of replay when it is finished, and Klei treats it like they do Don't Starve, then they will continue to introduce even more after release.

In terms of rating Invisible, Inc's potential as a microcosm, I would say it qualifies as a hybrid.  Its scenario dependency and lack of a mutable world keep it on the upper end of "limited" scope offerings.  However, the "endless" mode, procedurally generated facilities, and possible ongoing expansions beget that of an "unlimited" scope game.  Do not go into this game expecting as much worldliness, but do expect this one to be a game you can pull out and replay time and time again.


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