The Invincible Interview: 10 Hours Of Gameplay With Multiple Pessimistic Endings

The adaptation of Stanisław Lem's novel plans to hit 60 FPS on PlayStation 5 at 4K resolution.

Story Highlights

  • The Invincible—Starward Industries’ debut title—is scheduled to be released on November 6, 2023.
  • The retrofuturistic title is based on Stanisław Lem’s novel and introduces the new main character, Yasna.
  • We interviewed the CEO of Starward Industries, discussing different aspects of the game.

To talk about where the prospect stems from, The Invincible, at first, is a Polish novel with its roots dug deep into the science fiction genre. It’s penned by Stanisław Lem — an icon of his time — who found fame in an array of other publications as well. Visualizing The Invincible by Lem as a “ready-made movie script,” Starward Industries has put together a video game adaptation of the novel, and it’s nothing to sleep on.

The studio that has helmed this project comprises veterans from the likes of CD Projekt Red and Techland, both of which are A-grade video game developers with years of mastery speaking for them. eXputer sat down with The Invincible’s director Marek Markuszewski in recent times for an interview, asking some of the questions we had regarding the upcoming sci-fi thriller. 

Read ahead for the full interview and Marek’s valuable insights into The Invincible. 

The Invincible
The Invincible – Screenshot via Steam.

Can you introduce yourself and Starward Industries, and perhaps give a small explanation of what The Invincible is for people who haven't heard of it?
Marek: My name is Marek Markuszewski, and I am the idea creator and game director of The Invincible, inspired by Stanisław Lem’s novel of the same name. I also serve as the CEO of Starward Industries. Our debut production offers a deep narrative experience, a cosmic adventure with an extensive dialogue system and meaningful choices. Players step into the shoes of Yasna, a sharp astrobiologist who embarks on a life-saving mission in the midst of an interplanetary race, facing a threat that transcends the boundaries of human understanding.

You have mentioned that the game carries Lem's spirit and is faithful to the novel to a certain extent. Still, there are new elements, Yasna being one of them, and due to her role as the main character, it makes me wonder how exactly we can expect the story to unravel from her point of view while remaining somewhat faithful to the original material.
Marek: Yes, Yasna is a new character created by us. Thanks to her, the adventure we invite the player to is a more personal, intimate, and emotionally diverse human experience. An important narrative aspect is Yasna’s relationship with Novik. They represent two different worldviews that clash during the events, influencing each other and undergoing evolution. In the extensive dialogues between Novik and Yasna, there are often threads that appear in the book as well. The adventure experienced by Yasna closely aligns with the most iconic points of what Rohan encounters in the book.

Adding a bit more to my previous question, will fans who have already read the novel be in for a surprise while playing the game?
Marek: We aimed to construct the narrative in such a way that even those familiar with the book (inside and out) would become immersed in our gameplay and identify with the motivations of the main character. We retained the key plot points of the book, and events involving Rohan are also part of Yasna’s story. However, it’s worth emphasizing that we have a lot of original content and our own interpretation of the visual world. I am sure that both those who have read the book and those unfamiliar with its content will not only be surprised but also captivated by the story in the game

There must be many choices that players will have to make along the way and a lot of secrets and mysteries to unravel. So, how many hours can we expect the game's main story to take, and how long will it be for perfectionists?
Marek: We aimed to create a game that offers an intimate and engaging weekend experience. Therefore, we estimate the game’s playtime to be around 10 hours. The actual duration will depend on the player’s exploration style, their choices, and their willingness to immerse themselves in the game world.

The Invincible has 11 endings, correct? And how many of those endings can we consider to be good or bad. Will each ending deviate from Stanisław Lem’s novel?
Marek: We don’t want to reveal the endings’ content as they are tied to player choices. However, I can disclose that all of them, even our original ones, stay true to the spirit of Lem and his vision, as well as the perspectives from the book. What does it mean? Many of them have a pessimistic tone.

Will the game have a New Game Plus for players who wish to achieve all endings without needing to redo the “grind” aspect?
Marek: Yes, players will be able to replay and complete all possible events in the game. In a single playthrough, you can unlock approximately 60% of the content. I’d like to add that all key events are visualized in the form of artistic comics, which are also accessible in the main menu.

Performance has become one of the major concerns for new game releases, especially this year. The requirements for The Invincible are not exactly high, but in terms of optimization, how well is the end product?
Marek: This was a very significant aspect for us. We can boast good performance, maintaining a stable 60 frames per second on the PS5 at 4K resolution.

Experience and talent are two things that Starward certainly has in abundance. However, the studio is still relatively small, which raises the question, how will the post-launch support look like for The Invincible?
Marek: Even though our team is compact, we gained much experience in optimizing development processes, and we firmly believe that we can both work on new projects and support The Invincible for many following months. We also consider the possibility of inviting more people to work together with us in the near future.
The Invincible
The Invincible – Screenshot via Steam.

You once mentioned that The Invincible is a narrative-driven game whose dialogue system plays a significant role. Does that dialogue system take inspiration from any existing titles, or did the team make it as unique as possible?
Marek: We have taken inspiration from Firewatch, making a dynamic dialogue system that lets you delve into various moral and philosophical dilemmas and decide on how the relationship between Yasna and Novik evolves. However, we took it to a higher level so that your dialogue choices and your behavior toward different events or people may have a significant impact on the ending of your mission. You must be careful what you decide to say or do.

The teasers and trailers have made one thing clear: there are times when the game can become very eerie or even scary, and other times when the players may feel conflicted as things unravel before them. What other elements can players expect in The Invincible?
Marek: Every part of your experience as Yasna was created to confront you with hidden, unconscious parts of the human species: fears, dilemmas and desires. Yasna, as a highly professional astrobiologist, faces cosmic challenges with bravado, wit and ironic humor. Her optimistic, mission-oriented approach slowly changes in the course of time and the appearance of unexpected, mind-boggling events. Everything Yasna goes through makes you redefine what you know about science, the universe and yourself.

The Invincible will undoubtedly be a great title to experience on VR. However, there has yet to be a statement regarding its official release on those platforms. Although the team mentioned in a Q&A that this task is a very high priority, there’s no expected release window. Is that still the case?
Marek: We still strongly consider releasing the VR version of The Invincible in the foreseeable future after the release on November 6. The community of fans, people we have talked to directly and indirectly, seemed really excited about this possibility, and we definitely acknowledged that.

In another interview, you stated how getting permission for this adaptation from Lem's son was a challenging task, but in the end, he was convinced, thanks to Dobrowolski. Has his son seen the final product, and is he happy with how it has turned out?
Marek: The initial process of presenting the project to Tomasz Lem was challenging, that’s true (laugh). It was actually me who, on behalf of the team, was responsible for convincing Tomasz that we truly want to recreate the spirit in which Lem had written The Invincible, that we want to stay true to the underlying message about humans’ place in the evolutionary pyramid.

Will Starward continue adapting such classic novels, or will the studio move in another direction entirely?
Marek: We have grown fond of the unique Retrofuturistic vision, and we plan to build on it in our future projects. The Atompunk universe is something that fascinates us and allows us to make truly unique games in different timelines but in similarly eye-catching stylization. The Invincible only confirmed our belief in rich, deep narratives that make you forget about everything and rearrange the way you perceive the world. We plan to keep on creating meaningful, ambitious stories that have a chance to be discussed in global pop culture.

Is there anything you would like to say to the audience about The Invincible?
Marek: In creating the adaptation of The Invincible, we aimed to provide players with an unforgettable, meaningful experience – immersive gameplay filled with dilemmas, a narrative about humanity, its greatest weaknesses, and the essence of humankind. We wanted to make Lem even more renowned worldwide. We also hope that those who are fascinated by the world of science will find significant value in our game. So, I invite everyone to embark on a journey to Regis III to delve into the nooks of the ship and the human soul.

YouTube video

Starward Industries’ debut title seems to be doing everything perfectly, at least in theory, having a short yet immersive gameplay, boasting great optimization, and having as many as 11 endings. However, after this interview, I realized that we must look beyond that to truly capture what this game wants to convey to the audience, and that would be the essence of Stanisław Lem’s novel itself.

The Invincible, originally published in 1964, takes the readers on a cosmic adventure wherein these events are uncovered that transcend beyond human understanding. The video game adaptation, although having a different main character, will still be very faithful to the novel, and everything that this character experiences will, in Marek’s words, “redefine what you know about science, the universe, and yourself.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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