One of the more interesting game announcements I ran across last year was The Invincible, a "retro-future atompunk" thriller based on a 1964 sci-fi novel by Polish author Stanisław Lem. As a long-time fan of Golden Age and New Wave sci-fi, the visual style and promise of a weird journey to the planet Regis 3 really rang my bell. The first full teaser was released today, and I'm happy to say that my enthusiasm remains intact.
The video unfolds from the perspective of Dr. Yasna, one of The Invincible's main characters, who disregards the advice of Astrogater Novik and ends up in some serious trouble as a result. It's all wonderfully chunky and analog, with visual elements—the ramshackle base, spider-like robot, boxy rover, and even the vague sepia toning—that could come straight off the cover of an Andre Norton paperback. Just as important is the sinister tease of an alien mystery that threatens the crew, and perhaps even all of humanity. And look at that ray gun! That's what I'm talking about.
Similar retro-sci fi cues are found in games like Journey to the Savage Planet and The Outer Worlds, but they're both ironic experiences that exaggerate the silliness of the era to mask their winks and nods at the evils of contemporary capitalism. What I want is something that plays it straight: Critique and philosophy is fine (and an inherent component of any good sci fi, most readers will tell you) but keep that pulpy, early 60's storytelling serious and sincere. So far, The Invincible looks set to deliver exactly that.
The one spot of bad news in all this is that The Invincible is going to take a bit longer to arrive than originally anticipated. When it was announced, developer Starward Industries expected to have it out sometime in 2021, but it's now targeted for 2022. Find out more at invinciblethegame.com.