Makers of science-fiction videogames tend to reach for a grab-bag of familiar influences, so there’s something immediately distinctive about The Invincible, given that it’s based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Polish writer and satirist Stanisław Lem. It’s a book that clearly means a lot to its creators at the Krakow-based Starward Industries, a studio comprising talent from a series of high-profile studios (CD Projekt Red, Techland, Bloober Team) and that’s abundantly clear from the early hours of this narrative-led adventure, which we explore in detail in the brand-new issue of Edge.
The Invincible is set on Regis III, a beautifully desolate planet that’s almost but not quite fit for human habitation. You’ll get to find out just what that ‘not quite’ represents in our exclusive cover story. If you’re familiar with the source you’ll have an inkling of what to expect, but not entirely. Starward Industries has made changes to the original plot, including player-character Yasna, an astronaut on an expedition to investigate the disappearance of the titular ship. It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that she’s not alone – indeed, her interactions with her crewmates and the other survivors will partly determine how the narrative plays out – yet it’s the encounters with the planet’s indigenous life forms that provide both otherworldly shivers and raise provocative philosophical questions.
Yet this is no hifalutin chin-stroker. It’s a deeply atmospheric slow-burner of a story with jolts of something close to survival horror: Firewatch and Alien: Isolation are two key influences, both apparent from our time with an early build. Moreover, it looks gorgeous: from its flame-propelled drones to crustacean robots and chunky Gerry Anderson-like rovers, its tech is immediately striking, likewise the telemeter that lets you map your environment, and the metal detector whose viewfinder strips the environment to glowing wireframe foundations.
More fascinating mysteries about the game and its creation are revealed in E371, in which we also find out how Valve turned its seminal shooter series into a VR masterpiece with Half-Life: Alyx. We also talk to artist Yoji Shinkawa about how he defined the look of Metal Gear and Death Stranding, revisit the angelic action of El Shaddai: Ascension Of The Metatron, discuss the secrets of making old games feel new again with retro-revival maestros Dotemu, and find out how a little-celebrated Disney game inspired last year’s best Metroidvania, Unsighted.
Our Play section delivers Edge’s verdict on the likes of Weird West, Ghostwire: Tokyo, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, and the excellent Patrick’s Parabox. And there’s plenty to look forward to in our Hype section, not least starry-casted satire The Last Worker, time-travel mystery Eternal Threads, and future-sport cracker Hyper Gunsport.
With the definitive Edge verdict on Panic’s crank-powered Playdate – not to mention reviews of all 24 games in the handheld’s debut season – and a chat with Ikumi Nakamura on her new ‘borderless’ studio, Edge 371 is yet another packed issue, and it’s on sale now (opens in new tab).