Sci-fi thriller The Invincible shows there are parts of space we should avoid

The Invincible’s new trailer, shown at the PC Gaming Show, reveals the stakes in the sci-fi thriller. As you watch Yasna search for her lost crewmates, you see how humans may want to think twice before colonizing a planet. The trailer culminates in an ominous message: “Not everything everywhere is for us.” 

Wasn’t that a big film from last year? 

Sci-fi fans may recognize the title of the space game from Stanisław Lem’s novel, a story that explored themes of artificial intelligence and evolution on a distant planet. Developer Starward Industries has changed some of the main elements of the plot, but the team intends to throw you into the same thematic mix. Stranded on the planet Regis III and separated from the rest of her crashed research vessel crewmates, you’ll take control of Dr. Yasna, an amnesiac astrobiologist. 

Yasna dusts herself off and soon finds one of her colleagues, though they’ve been struck speechless by something they’ve seen on the planet. The rest of the crew are scattered to the sandstorm winds. Venturing out into the cruel wastes of Regis III is your only option to recover them. However, you aren’t entirely alone, as your digital assistant Astrogator is in your ear to assist. 

The most appealing aspect of The Invincible is this gorgeous, glossy, ‘50s atompunk aesthetic permeating every part of the game. Take the long-limbed robot that patrols the research camp your crew set up. It looks like something out of a Soviet adaptation of War of the Worlds. 

(Image credit: Starward Industries/11 bit studios)

You can scan Yasna’s surroundings for movement using a handheld red radio with white lights, like a non-threatening iteration of the portable tracker from Alien. And, despite the clear cinematic influences in the epic setpieces of the trailer, there is little to accompany Yasna but the sound of her footsteps and the rumbles of rock overhead.

“Existential fears were always an inherent part of humankind’s exploration of the cosmos,” narrative designer Magdalena Kucenty tells me. “Players will deeply explore the dynamics between those in The Invincible, where Yasna is faced with the fear for her crew and mind-boggling science phenomena that shake her perception of human position in the evolutionary pyramid or even her knowledge of the universe.”

The Invincible

(Image credit: Starward Industries)

The team also mentioned Firewatch as a point of reference for the team, but I also see shades of Housemarque’s Returnal, Arkane’s Prey, and Frictional Games’ Amnesia: Rebirth, too. While there look to be scary moments in The Invincible, they look to be more to get your heart pumping, while the investigation into the psychology of the crew and the mysteries of Regis III take center stage. 

"Humankind was always compelled to look for an answer to every question imaginable, not stopping at any cost," creative manager Olga Piech says. "Our hunger for knowledge and understanding is inseparable from the belief that what we find, name, and categorize becomes ours in an instant."

It’s a valid point. Well, I’m on board The Invincible, wherever we end up.