We’re tempted to give Invisible, Inc. an instant 10/10 for its pun-tastic title. That is truly good stuff. Unfortunately “giving ten out of ten for liking the name of a game” is on the secret journalists’ charter of Things You Don’t Do Ever, so we have to measure our praise. Thankfully, not much measuring will be necessary, because Invisible, Inc. is a bit of a diamond.
There are so many moving parts to Invisible, Inc. that it’s actually a difficult game to describe. Getting the most divisive element out of the way first, it’s another roguelike. Please, don’t let that put you off. What we have here is simply better than the vast majority of its genre, especially on Switch. The plot is an excuse, but you’re tasked by a secretive agency to commit grievous and extensive espionage in order to fight back against the corporations who have thoroughly rumbled you and are closing on your position. This takes the form of a turn-based stealth tactics game so beautifully designed that it’s accessible to almost anyone – even gamers who don’t normally like this sort of stuff.
The framework that gives Invisible, Inc. its roguelike tag is pretty much masterful; in hiding with a hacking AI called Incognita, you’ve got 72 hours left to take on various missions around the world in order to seize resources for the final assault – effectively a suicide mission, but with enough success on the way there, maybe you’ll just squeak by. If your agents die, you wipe, and we mean wipe. On any difficulty level higher than the default Beginner (which is itself no slouch), your save is gone. You’re starting over with a whole new set of procedurally-generated locations and tasks.
Agents control well; with a certain number of Action Points (AP) at the start of each turn, you’ve got to infiltrate your target, seize as many assets as you can, then bail out. It’s a lot easier said than done. At first, things will seem quiet and simplistic, and you’ll run through rooms cleaning out servers and hacking terminals (using a limited but regenerating resource, “Power”) in order to lower forcefields or switch off cameras. Hacking is as simple as hitting the X button and selecting the object in range that you want to go ‘full Matrix‘ on. Each turn, though, you’ll see the ominous “Security Level” in the top-right corner of the screen gradually tick upward; the higher it goes, the more things get tightened up. More guards deployed, drones and cameras activated, firewalls reinforced… it doesn’t pay to stick around, but what if that next room is full to the brim with loot…?
Your tactical options are many, but extremely easy to execute, making the game a pleasure to play. Ala XCOM or the recent, lesser Dread Nautical, you simply choose a square on the isometric grid-based levels to move your character to. It’s always obvious how far you can go and whether or not a square is safe. This means your decisions matter enormously and any failure is entirely on you. There are times when it can feel otherwise – a rise in the Security Level leading to a camera suddenly activating when you’re in a compromising position, for example – but such incidents can always be mitigated with careful play. As a result, Invisible, Inc. is tough but resolutely fair.
“Security Level” is the key to Invisible, Inc.’s excellence and sense of tension; a turn-based stealth game almost feels impossible, but that constant ticking time-bomb of a mechanic makes it work brilliantly. You’re constantly juggling variables and may have to abandon or completely change up your approach to a mission because some unforeseen spanner in the works has fouled up your best-laid plans. If this is too stressful or tough, pretty much every aspect of the game’s difficulty can be tweaked individually in an extensive, brilliant accessibility menu so you can set things to your desired level easily.
There are persistent elements to Invisible, Inc.; you can unlock new agents and gadgets to start out with, but none of these compromise the central design. They simply provide you with more options to play with and hopefully, eventually find a way to prevail. The Switch version of Invisible, Inc. also includes the “Contingency Plan” DLC, optionally adding more agents, enemies and options – as well as lengthening the short (but ceaselessly replayable) campaign.
The randomly-generated missions look great, though there’s little in the way of visual variety between them – not that it matters much given how concise the campaign is. It all runs at a perfectly smooth framerate, too; we encountered one single momentary hitch in our time with Invisible, Inc., but in turn-based game that’s hardly a dealbreaker. It’s just as absorbing and atmospheric on a handheld, the controls feel great and the UI is perfectly suited to the format with readable fonts and simple iconography.
What this all amounts to is a brilliant little tactics game, right up there with Into the Breach and XCOM – if not even better. The bite-sized structure belies a deceptively complex and meaningful game, where all your decisions ultimately mean something significant for that final desperate attack. If you enjoy stealth or tactics games – or you’re simply looking for a way into either genre – then Invisible, Inc. deserves your attention.