Prime Edition

Invisible, Inc
All roads lead to frustration...and victory laps
Azeem Banatwalla  4th Jul 2015

Developer & publisher: Klei Entertainment

Platforms: PS4, Steam

Price: $19.99

I've been a fan of Klei Entertainment since they arguably took the indie gaming scene to the next level with the cult classic Mark of The Ninja, a stealth-based action-platformer which, even with its two-dimensional limitations, made you feel like the most badass ninja warrior of all time. Klei's latest release, Invisible, Inc., is also focussed on stealth, but a different, more cerebral experience which, despite borrowing heavily from more established turn-based action video games, creates a gaming experience that's an endless loop of exhilaration, frustration and learning.

If you've ever played a video game from the XCOM franchise, Invisible, Inc. seems very similar at first glance. It's turn-based action — you make a move, in which your character can travel a limited distance and use certain skills, and then wait for your enemy (typically patrolling security guards with various different weapons and abilities) to do the same. The key is that your enemies don't know you're around, and it's your job to try and keep it that way as you try to sneak, hack and steal your way to secret codes and documents that will help save a dying spy group codenamed Invisible, Inc. Being detected alerts guards everywhere, who attempt to converge on your location and corner you, which, on most occasions, is fatal, A single misstep usually spirals into a futile cycle of recovery steps that can lead to your agents being killed, which is a worry because these agents develop powers and abilities that are crucial in later levels. However, risks are altogether necessary because playing it safe raises alert levels with every passing turn and increases the number of guards between you and your goal, making your mission next to impossible. It's this fine balance of risk and reward that makes Invisible, Inc. such a nerve-wracking experience. You never know what's lurking behind the next corner, but your mission may demand finding out even if you don't want to.

Just like XCOM, the levels in Invisible, Inc. are procedurally generated, which is to say that each level you play is randomly generated. No two play-throughs will ever be the same. That said, the randomness can often make levels stupidly complicated and downright unbeatable, and, when you're 50 hours into the game, that can lead to frustration and, occasionally, throwing your laptop around and cursing at furniture.

If you're looking for a simple but challenging game that gives your cerebrum a real run-around, Invisible, Inc. is a great pick — especially for those with modest PC configurations because the game isn't particularly demanding. Be prepared for a lot of learning, a lot of frustration, and eventually some victory laps around your bedroom. There's nothing quite as rewarding as beating a tough level on Invisible, Inc., and that's probably the highest compliment I could pay it. Happy spying!

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