The Invincible is a Firewatch-style adventure on a dead planet infested with killer robots

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Polish sci-fi stunner The Invincible made one hell of a first impression when it was first announced in 2020 (opens in new tab)– and that was just a handful of screenshots. However, at this week’s PC Gaming Showcase we finally got to see The Invincible’s rusty retro-future sci-fi in action.

Inspired by a novel of the same name by Polish author Stanisław Lem, developer Starward Industries’ game follows roughly the same storyline, crash-landing and taking us to the dusty canyons of Regis 3. It’s a hostile, lifeless, wretched land, but you must face it don’t stand alone.

After a short introduction, we will be introduced to the space boots of Dr. Yasna is seated behind the wheel of an adorable retro Eastern Bloc space truck trudging through a dusty canyon. We’re on the trail of a missing convoy, its vehicles crushed and abandoned in the rocks, and we have Novik on the radio to guide us through the who, what, and where.

What unfolds is surprisingly reminiscent of Firewatch, using environmental curiosities to spark conversations between Novik and Yasna as you explore the doomed convoy’s final rest stop. We climb through the hull of their retro space van to find the remains of the team; first an Antimatte (a robot with a devastating antimatter laser that blasts huge tunnels into rock faces), then the remains of one of the crew members and a robotic helper stuck in a programming loop.

A robot shoots at a smaller robot

(Image credit: Starward Industries)

It’s a refreshingly calm, thoughtful take on sci-fi that immerses you in dreary sci-fi vibes. All those robots, ships, and loose tools have that great Golden Age aesthetic, even as they lie asleep on the sand. Unfortunately, one of those stone-melting Antimats soon wakes up and makes short work of the poor robot before turning its gaze on Yasna.

“This story may be set millions of light-years from Earth, but the problems you face are not far from home,” said Marek Markuszewski, Starward CEO. “We consider ourselves the finest species to have conquered every piece of the biosphere. We lack humility in the face of the power of nature and evolution. The whole galaxy is our given right. Still, there are some places that aren’t ours – places that aren’t meant for us at all.”

In a fun twist, Yasna has one last choice of dialogue before being immediately vaporized – a sign that we may not be exploring Regis 3 from a single angle. Lem’s original novel focuses heavily on the idea of ​​non-organic ecosystems, nanomachines, and swarm intelligence, which we briefly see in the metallic flora lining the canyon walls. But The Invincible also seeks to explore the stranded crew’s interpersonal conflicts – even with this little exploration, there’s a strong sense that tensions are easing.

I have a few concerns about the voice acting, which may come across as a bit cardboard in this short snippet. But The Invincible serves up a retro-alien-style world, and the promise of Firewatch-like drama unfolding on a lonely rock full of deadly secrets and desperate astronauts already got me hooked. If Starward Industries can pull it off, we could be looking forward to something very special.

The Invincible is slated to release sometime next year on Steam, GOG, and the Epic Games Store.

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