Month: September 2014

Early Impressions: Invisible, Inc.

Invisible, Inc. Logo

Invisible, Inc. is a turn-based stealth game where you are in control of a group of lethal, high tech spies capable of hacking anything. The game features randomly generated levels of all sizes, “permadeath,” turn-based strategy, and an active security system. You have 72 hours to build up your arsenal before your final mission. Can you bring your A-Team?

The A-Team via Hulu and IGN

The A-Team via Hulu and IGN

Klei Entertainment released Invisible, Inc. on PC as an early access game. Early access games are the new craze in the video game industry, which are early builds of the game where update after update comes out before the full release. Steam explains it best:

Get immediate access to games that are being developed with the community’s involvement.These are games that evolve as you play them, as you give feedback, and as the developers update and add content.

I am not a fan of early access games, but after watching one of my favorite YouTube channels, Northernlion, play the game, I decided to give Invisible, Inc. a try.

Pick Your Team

Before starting the first mission, you must choose your two-person team. Each character has the same set of skills, but some skills are more useful than others. The key differences between the characters are the items they carry, and their abilities. Choosing characters that work well together is the best way to complete your missions. The first two characters that are readily available are Deckard and Internationale.

Deckard and Internationale via Indie Game Insider

Deckard looks like your typical “cloak and dagger” detective (movie reference, not comic). He has a long face and wears a brown fedora and a dashing trench coat that makes it look as if he hovers off the ground when it moves around. He carries a taser and an invisible cloak. The taser is great for knocking out enemies for a limited number of turns, but it has to cool down after it is used. The invisible cloak is great to use when you are about to be caught, but you can only use it before an enemy sees you. Deckard has a stealth ability which gives him more movement points. Moving around in the level is important, but there are some more useful abilities from other agents, like Internationale’s “wireless interface” ability.

Internationale reminds me of a character from an old noir film, but with huge headphones over her ears. She is the hacking phenom in the game thus far. Like Deckard, she has a taser, but nothing else; her ability makes up for not having a second item. Internationale’s “wireless interface” ability allows her to interact with electronics from a distance, even through walls. This ability compliments Deckard’s enhanced movement, which makes the two of them a great starting team.

Based on my limited time playing Invisible, Inc., I found that there are two other unlockable characters to choose from. The first character unlocked is Shalem 11. This tall-looking, suit-wearing, hair-slicked-back professional is equipped with a rifle and larger inventory. He is also equipped with a taser, like most of the characters.

Shalem 11’s Complete Arsenal via Klei Forum

Banks is the other unlockable character in Invisible, Inc. She looks very similar to Deckard, sans-fedora. Not many people who play the Early Access unlock her since she is the last character to unlock and the game can be cruel at times (the difficulty was turned down in the second update though). Banks can bypass any red security doors and holds a unique tranquilizer that knocks out guards for longer periods of time.

Note: I highly recommend anyone trying this game out for the first time to dabble in the tutorial first before actually playing the story mode.

Stealth is Your Friend

Stay Out of Sight via Inc Gamers

When you first start a mission, you are always in a room with your other agent. It is good to plan where you want to go first before opening any doors. I usually split my characters up so I can cover all the rooms before the security level gets too high. The security level rises with each turn, killed guard, virus, camera, etc. There are tons of things that can go wrong to make this game increase in difficulty.

Before walking through any door, peek first. The peek option is very reliable and will save you a ton of hassle later on. By peeking, you can set up easy ways to knock out guards with your taser, find out if they are patrolling or stationed, and even spot hard to find cameras.

It is worth noting that you do have a limited number of AP (Action Points). Once you move a certain number of spaces, use a weapon or even peek through a door, you lose an action point for every little thing; you use no AP for hacking.

What a Hack

Hacking is one key to victory. You must use PWR (power) to hack any devices. To gain more PWR, there are terminals around the mission you can hack which can be done by closely standing next to one or using Internationale’s skill which can hack terminals from a distance (you do not need to use PWR to hack terminals); some skills may also help you gain PWR as well. When you obtain enough PWR, you can hack nearly everything in the mission.

The Red Can Be Hacked via Steam

Before you can hack anything, you must find or see those devices first. Cameras are the first things I like to hack because if you are seen by one, the security level rises and guards know where to find you. You can also find camera terminals to hack, which show you the location of all the cameras in the entire level. After you hack a camera, you can also see the entire room the camera is overlooking.

The third thing I like to hack is the safe. Each mission usually has one or two safes. Some big, some small, but all will give you something of value. Most of the time, you will obtain credits to help purchase more items, ammunition, and upgrades.

When I say there are a ton of things to hack, I mean it. Cameras and safes are the two most common, but you will also find turrets, motion sensors, robots and even security lasers. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but remember your PWR. Once it is all gone, it is not easy to find.

Drone Hack and Kill by Kotaku

Your Mission

The large mission map gives you tons of places to visit. Invisible, Inc. gives you an idea of each mission, but most are random. The main things you need to focus on are the time it takes you to get to that mission, and how well guarded it is.

Mission Map via Steam

Time plays a big factor with missions. The typical mission lasts 5 hours, so if it takes 9 hours to travel to a mission, you may only have time to do 3 missions in one day. Remember, you have 72 hours until your final mission. Each mission that leads up to your last mission prepares your characters with greater resources and upgrades. I like to pick the missions with the lowest travel times, and I try to ignore the guarded situations.

However, when you first start out, I advise that you choose the least guarded missions each time to get a better hang of the game. As you progress, it becomes unavoidable to choose from the most guarded missions. Developing your skills, purchasing useful items and maintaining you sanity will help you succeed in late game.

Jackpot via Indie DB

Conclusions

Even though this game is in early access, it has a lot of potential. If you are a fan of turned-based strategy games like X-COM, you will love this game. It is not as easy as X-COM, but it is easy to master once you get the hang of it.

I will leave you with a video from Northernlion, who inspired me to pick up this wonderful stealth game. Also, it is worth noting that I beat the first build of the game where there was no difficulty choice. I had to play it as is, and it was harder than most games should be. I am currently playing it on easy, and it is still difficult at times. Gamers can expect a challenge from this gem.

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Backlog, I Hate The Word

“Backlog. Backlog? I hate the word. As I hate hell, all procrastinators and thee.”

That’s right, I hate the word backlog. You can argue all you want about how everyone who owns a video game has a “backlog” of games that are still on their to-do list. I will destroy this word. Delete this word from your vocabulary, bleep out the word like raunchy comedies do on public television (Always Sunny in Philadelphia returns in January 2015!), or scream when someone utters this disgusting word.

It occurred to me in 2011 that I should keep track of how many video games I complete over the course of a year. Since then, I realized that the term “backlog” when used with video games is all intrusive. When anyone refers to their “backlog” of video games, I think of how much work and effort they are putting towards a huge list of games that must be completed. It is annoying hearing/reading about people who reveal that they have over 100 games that they just have to complete before they die. It is an unrealistic expectation unless you drop everything in your life and fully work on your “backlog.”

Now for the cliché: Wikipedia notes that “backlog” generally refers to an accumulation over time of work waiting to be done or orders to be fulfilled. I agree that the word itself can be involved with a gamer’s vocabulary, but I want to show you how to avoid thinking in those terms.

My Wallet Is Hurting

Your wallet can hurt if you focus too hard on your “backlog.” We are in 2014, but some gamers insist they have to play the original video games. They do not want to touch the Playstation Network or Nintendo eShop to buy a game that plays exactly like the original. Gamers would rather own the old Final Fantasy VII Playstation disc or Super Mario World RPG SNES cartridge instead of purchasing it digitally at a quarter of the price.

Run Simballet! via Cheezburger

Note: Currently, Final Fantasy VII is selling at roughly $150 new and $17 used while Super Mario RPG is nearly $400 new and $46 used.

I will admit that I went through a phase where I had to buy the rare original video game so I could play them later. For example, I rebought Final Fantasy VII on eBay for over $30 used a few years ago. More recently, I bought Xenosaga: Episode III for more than $40 on eBay since I wanted to complete the saga.

I Have To Beat This

When you work on your “backlog” of video games, do you say, “I have to beat this”, and if so, why? Why does this one game matter so much more than the hundreds that have come out over the course of a year that may interest you more? I understand that after you beat something in your “backlog” that it must feel great, but you did not have to beat it.

Dark Souls is hard via GTTMY

The worst way I look at this is when a gamer scratches a game off their “backlog,” and feels more excited when they see its ending. Are you more excited about beating the game itself or just happy to see another game off your “backlog” list? Further, there is always the chance that the gamer rushed through the dialogue or missed the entire climax in the story. There can be hundreds of factors that they missed because the only thing they focused on was completing this task.

At least, once a game is marked off their “backlog” list, they can start another.

How Long To Beat

Hours Well Spent? via NPC Comics

Time is of the essence when it comes to some gamers who want to complete their entire “backlog” list. How Long To Beat is a wonderful tool for gamers to find out how long it will take to beat the next game on their list. I like to use this website every once in a while to determine which game I should play next, but I do not limit myself to these times.

If you use this website, ask yourself: does it really matter? Do you care about the time you have to put in to your next video games? I have explained in one of my previous blog posts that “Time is Money,” but this may go too far. Gamers may rush through the game instead of experiencing the game how it is supposed to be experienced. For example, I started playing Final Fantasy X-2. This game will roughly take me 35 hours to complete since I will do some of the side missions as well. However, there is another part of the game that gamers may or may not touch: The Fiend Arena.

The Fiend Arena in Final Fantasy X-2 is an arena where your character can capture monsters called fiends, watch their Fiend Tale progress, manage their skills and powers, and fight in a battle arena. This is sort of like Pokémon, but it is more randomized when capturing fiends. This entire side story of the game is for fun. The story can progress without the added feature, but the interesting take on Fiend Tales can be important if you are interested in the lore of the game, extra missions, or new items.

Fiend Arena Art via Final Fantasy Wiki

To watch a Fiend’s Tale, you must level up your fiend to a high enough level and release it back into the wild. Once you do this, you will learn the history of the fiend and get a possible item or mission to complete within the game. This adds more to the Final Fantasy X-2 lore and only helps the player. The feature adds another depth to Final Fantasy X-2, but will those who have it on their “backlog” list even give it a try? I think not, since their goal is to finish the game in a certain amount of time.

Note: To learn more about the Fiend Arena, visit The Final Fantasy Wiki.

The Juggling Maneuver

Currently, I am playing Titanfall, Mega Man: Battle Network, Invisible, Inc., and Final Fantasy X-2. This may sound like a lot of games to go between, but I can handle them. I can remember what is going on in each game and make time for each one when I see fit. One day, I may feel like mindless, fast-paced killing and play Titanfall, and the next day, I may want to relax and lose myself in the story of Final Fantasy X-2.

Mr. Game & Watch Ball Game via GiantBomb

Juggling a bunch of video games can be hard. The only reason I do this is because I know I can take my time and experience the entire game. I do not want to burn out on one video game because I played it nonstop for a week. I like to dabble in different games to help break up the monotony.

If a gamer is too heavily invested in their “backlog,” they may focus too hard on a single game and lose interest. A role-playing video game could take hours and hours until it is completed. I remember putting in over 60 hours with Final Fantasy XIII and that took me nearly two years to complete. Focusing on one game could hurt you like I mentioned before, so it may be in your best interest to alternate between several games. Take a break from one video game, and then go play something else. Do not worry; the game will still be there for you when you return.

Let’s Focus On Completion

Here is what I do: I focus on how many games I complete in a given year. This is a great way for me to see how much time I dedicate to one of my favorite hobbies. I look forward to completing games and adding them to my list, so at the end of the year, I can either brag or wallow in my lack in gaming. It can also be a great identifier to see what game I might have dedicated a lot of my time to. For instance, with the March release of Titanfall, I saw a drop in completed games. I put a lot of effort and time into Titanfall and I did not want to touch any other game.

Now That’s Focus via Business In Focus

The other reason I like to keep this list is because it helps me to form a positive outlook on things. I would rather have the happy thought of all of my gaming accomplishments embedded in my brain than a sad, negative one of all those I have not completed. I am not saying all gamers look at their “backlog” as a negative, but I can see how some could. Gamers see a list of hundreds of games, so instead of looking at the positive experiences to come, they visualize the negative and see at least half the games as a hassle.

Video games should not become a chore, they should be played for fun. Remember, a game is just a game. It does not matter if you have a million games to play in your lifetime. As long as you are having fun, and look at the positive side of gaming, there is no reason to think that you have to play this or that. Take one game at a time, and keep track of them in a different way. Ignore the word “backlog,” erase it from your dictionary, keep track of your accomplishments, and have fun with your video games.

Make A List by See Sarah Eat