It was Superhot that first made me think about the old writer's adage, that you do the slow stuff fast and the fast stuff slow. This is the thinking that powers Jack Reacher novels, for example - Lee Child talks about this trick often and with great clarity. If Reacher's doing a bunch of research, you whip through it in a couple of lines. Literary montage! If Reacher's outside a bar, though, and a horseshoe of bad'uns is forming around him, time slows until it forms a thick mineral goop that traps everyone within it. The next few seconds are going to involve the shattering of kneecaps and the bruising of aortas (if aortas are a thing that can be bruised - having typed it, I am unconvinced). The next few seconds are going to be violent and memorable. Crucially, the next few seconds are going to take eight or nine pages to play out, because every move will be examined in great forensic detail. We will count the separate sparks in the air, and be deafened by the clatter of a spent cartridge case rattling on the tarmac. We will be fully present and fully conscious in these terrible, glorious moments.
It's this week's Late to the Party.
Invisible, Inc. is one of those games I've been meaning to play ever since it came out. Everyone I know who's played it through is a committed enthusiast (hello Oli Welsh) and yet I never got round to booting it up.
PlayStation Plus' December Instant Game Collection lets subscribers snag Klei's turn-based infiltration game Invisible, Inc. for free beginning on 6th December.
UPDATE 06/10/2016 11.50pm: When asked if Invisible, Inc's Contingency Plan DLC is available for iPad, the developer offered Eurogamer the following statement:
In Play is a column taking a weekly sideways look at new game releases.
Turn-based strategy infiltration game Invisible, Inc. is coming to PS4 on 19th April, developer Klei Entertainment has announced.
My two favourite games of this year are very different - almost opposed - but have one important thing in common. The Witcher 3 is huge, opulent, authored, with simple gameplay working in the service of rich storylines and a bustling world. Invisible, Inc. is compact, efficient, procedurally generated, with a basic plot framing stories that emerge naturally from an exquisitely engineered ruleset. Both games, though, impress with their coherence: their total dedication to selling their fantasy and to avoiding the smallest detail that might break their spell. Strut like a sexy, magic monster hunter; commit daring heists with a team of neo-noir cyber-spies. Who wouldn't want to?
The nice thing about running the Eurogamer YouTube channel is that we can get away with doing game of the year a little differently. Eschewing the voting process whereby one game is selected (and thereby ensuring we don't end up murdering one another), each member of the video team has made a video about their personal game of 2015.
With 2015 rapidly drawing to a close (seriously, where has this year gone?), we at Eurogamer are faced with the difficult task of picking a game of the year. And as Chris and I discovered, there's nothing quite like combing through the year's releases to make you realise how many games you haven't played.
Contingency Plan is the new DLC pack for Invisible, Inc, a turn-based stealth affair that is swiftly becoming my game of the year. Klei Entertainment - an outfit that is swiftly becoming my developer of the decade - clearly knows what it's doing here. Contingency Plan contains new enemies and new abilities, and its big ticket item is probably a unique mission that extends the campaign - and swiftly cut a rather promising team to ribbons on my first playthrough. What's really brilliant about Contingency Plan, however, is the four new playable characters it offers. They've completely changed the way I approach things. They've completely changed the whole game for me.
As if there wasn't enough gaming to do this weekend - Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Star Wars Battlefront on EA Access, all those Xbox 360 classics hitting Xbox One backwards compatibility (I'm downloading Pac-Man: Championship Edition and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, officially two of the greatest games ever made, as I type) - talented Vancouver indie Klei is celebrating its 10th anniversary by making its entire catalogue free on Steam for the weekend.
Turn-based espionage game Invisible, Inc. is getting an all new DLC expansion entitled Contingency Plan on 12th November for PC, Mac and Linux.
I wonder: do you end up saving money in sales or spending more because things are on sale? Regardless, Steam is having a sale, a stealth-game sale, which lasts until Friday, 16th October, 6pm BST.
Plenty of games take advantage of players being a little too greedy, but I've been especially impressed by the way in which The Swindle and Invisible, Inc. manage it. Both of these games feature an ominous countdown, warning of a challenging final mission on the horizon, and it's these countdowns that get inside your head.
On paper, Invisible, Inc reads like a long list of things that I already love. This is a stealthy turn-based tactics game in which you lead a squad of double-dangerous secret agents through procedurally-generated maps whose wayward sprawls are broken down into neat little tiles. The art is angular, long-limbed cartoon noir, the title's a truly stellar pun, and the whole thing's put together by Klei Entertainment, a virtuoso group of ludic shapeshifters whose last few games - Mark of the Ninja, Don't Starve - have closely orbited a core of brutal, unforgiving, economical brilliance without letting the paths intersect.
This doesn't explain why I love Invisible, Inc so much, though. To do that, you have to strike beneath the careful template and get at the behaviours that the game's rules and restrictions encourage. I love Invisible, Inc because its systems come together with one aim: to make me decisive. A ditherer by nature, it is fun to roleplay as someone so clear-eyed and free from doubt - someone who's able to ditch a team-mate when things get bad or decide, on a steely whim, if such a thing is possible, to risk absolutely everything on a hunch. With limited resources, warrenous maps, deadly enemies and short sight lines, Invisible, Inc prompts you to make one quick decision after another - and then dark emergent joy erupts as you try to live with the consequences of what you've just done.
This theme goes deep, too. Invisible, Inc's structure is seemingly pretty simple: you have 72 hours to rebuild your ravaged corporation and gear up for a final all-or-nothing mission that will probably kill you. You do this by jetting around the world and raiding rival corps, stealing new weaponry from Alaska, say, or busting a fellow agent out of a holding cell in China. With a wealth of options available at all times, you'd imagine that you're free to ignore the objectives that don't interest you and zero in on the ones that do. But that 72 hours is encouraging you to play temporal Tetris. It can take a long time to fly to Alaska, where a sweet new gun might be waiting for you - time that you could maybe spend taking in two separate missions closer to home, whose objectives, granted, you're less excited about. Getting the most out of your 72 hours is a crucial concern, then, even before you've set foot inside an enemy compound or chambered your first stun dart. This stuff matters. The first time I arrived at the final mission, I was down to a single agent, and they were armed - ha - with nothing more deadly than some reviving gel. That went well. By comparison, the last time I headed into the final mission I had four guys, and they were seriously tooled up. I still only squeaked it, though. Invisible, Inc really isn't screwing around.
"If we'd done it all internally, I don't know if we would have ever realised that we shouldn't do a dungeon crawler," explains designer James Lantz with a laugh. We are on Skype, and we're talking about Invisible Inc, the game that he's been working on for the last few years - and the game that, since last August, has had a new influx of design consultants.
Invisible, Inc. is now just days away from its full release, which brings with it a whole list of new goodies to play with. Expect new agents, items, voiceover, opening cinematics and importantly, a story driven final mission. Loads of NICE STUFF.
Invisible, Inc, the upcoming turn-based stealth adventure from Don't Starve and Mark of the Ninja developer Klei Entertainment, will officially launch for PC, Mac and Linux via Steam on 12th May.
The bad news is that it's been removed from Steam Early Access during its last four weeks in development. "We want everyone to experience the game in its fully realised version when it launches," the developer explained in its announcement on Steam. "If you already own the Early Access version, you can of course continue playing the development build."
It sounds like Klei is adding quite a lot of content since the Early Access edition, as the full game will feature "new agents, programs, augments, game modes, and more."
Dungeon of the Endless, Subnautica - quite a lot of Early Access video games start with spaceships in flames, hurtling artfully towards strange planets, bound for tales of peril and survival. Possibly this is just the best way to kick off a narrative that will involve crafting and permadeath, two of this era's greatest loves. Partly, though, it seems a tacit acknowledgement of how so many people feel about Early Access in general - that it is the place where bright promise burns up, where landing sites become graves.
How's this for trouble? A while ago, I spawned in a room that didn't have any exits. My fate was limbo, if limbo even counts as a fate: eternal life amongst corporate pot plants, a hackable computer and four blank walls.