Invisible, Inc.: Secret Agent Men and Lessons in Not Skipping Tutorials
By Kyle I-Skipped-the-Tutorial Gaddo
Note: All images on this page are from the early stages of the Steam Early-Access beta preparation for when the game becomes available for purchase again. These are brand new, never before released Beta teaser screenshots!
Invisible, Inc., is Klei Entertainment's upcoming title in a series of “This is Really Hard, Why Am I Doing This to Myself?”, focuses on tactical espionage action as you infiltrate a series of floors in an office building for some reason. World building is one of the items to be addressed in the future, but for the sake of this piece, let's say that this building houses The World's Most Delicious Sandwich. You are now tasked with navigating these floors and avoiding detection just for a bite of that sweet succulence.
Klei really drive home the point of stealth in Invisible, Inc. Oftentimes the goal in some stealth games is to draw aggression from enemy characters and knock them out to proceed. However, you must think of Invisible, Inc. as a combination of something akin to X-COM: Enemy Unknown and Metal Gear Solid, with a far heavier weight towards the former. Tactics mean everything during your infiltration where you must be acutely aware of all the moving parts in your immediate surroundings. In fact, this is where Invisible, Inc. and Don't Starve overlap stunningly, as you have to understand how the individual ecosystems work together and strategize accordingly.
You, as a two-person team, will efficiently collaborate to take out laser grids, security cameras, patrolling guards, and more as you hack your way across each floor stealing from safes and gathering supplies for further excursions. The odds are constantly against you as all the pieces that you must avoid and disable are handily guarding these precious commodities.
Tied into this stealth action are subtle mechanics that include upgrading your characters' individual abilities, bribing guards to take a temporary “nap” while you go about your business, and more, almost all of which require precious dollars from your pockets. Not only is managing your surroundings integral to the experience, but you must manage your resources absolutely, lest you find yourself penniless and needing to make a security guard look the other way for a couple of turns or unable to make important upgrades so that your current floor plans move without a hitch.
Don't. Skip. The. Tutorial. This is a lesson from personal experience and a foolish endeavor in thinking that I know enough about anything to dive headfirst into strictly tactical titles. Where Mark of the Ninja and Don't Starve separate themselves is that they are mostly founded in “trial and error” style gameplay. It's quite simple to just reload your last checkpoint or begin a new character and continue on your way with this newfound applied knowledge, but in Invisible, Inc. there are few second chances. In fact, it's better to think that there are no second chances.
Every move you make is going to matter—Did you stop on the right tile? Did you save enough CPU points to hack your intended targets or do you have to wait another turn? Is your character in a position that will get them spotted? Do you have enough movement points to escape being spotted? Does your weapon have enough ammo to take out these guards or should you conserve it just in case for later? Is taking out this guard even smart or will it alert others? Do you have enough money to upgrade your character? Will this upgrade even make a difference for this floor? The next floor?
As stated, it's important to understand the ecosystem you are infiltrating, because each of the deterrents that hinders you will work in conjunction with another to make sure you do not progress. Klei is kind of brilliant in their desire to make you “Nope Out” of their games after not really “getting it.” Imaginably, games that are perceived as “too difficult” will often lose players the fastest, and Invisible, Inc. has many opportunities to do just that.
I say can't I gave Invisible, Inc. a fair chance the first time I loaded up the alpha. My foolhardy ways said, “This should be no problem, I'll succeed with grace and make it through all ten floors, learning everything I need to know along the way.” What a dummy. I stumbled my way through the first floor only to find myself on the second floor deader than a really dead thing. This game is not all that forgiving and does not reward foolishly brave behavior. Invisible, Inc. is a game built for critical thinking and tactical planning and is incredibly beneficial to those that give their time and patience to it.
Although the title is just now out of alpha and has many changes to go through before it even enters its beta, the fundamentals are clear in what might be considered a “proof of concept” of mechanics. Invisible, Inc. is on course to be one of the most interesting tactical titles with a stealth focus to be available to players and should garner plenty of attention when it's fully available. Just remember...
Don't skip the tutorial.
For the ravenous reader: Klei's CM, Corey, says, "...all of that feedback was spot on. A ton of the stuff he (Kyle) experienced as possibly frustrating, things like the tutorial being mandatory to play properly etc. are all things we're flushing out for the Beta release. There will be a massive UI overhaul, the game will look much different with a much more polished and intuitive UI, and we've completely changed the tutorial to include some really handy prompts and dialogues. That being said, we had a TON of people skipping the tutorial when we first showed it at PAX East, so you're not alone and I love that you called out that people should pay attention to it haha. We're doing some fresh eyes play tests and even in its current state, the new tutorials are much, much better."
Day 15 | Klei Entertainment