PREVIEW: Invasion Machine

Mar
14

PREVIEW: Invasion Machine

USA simulator

Released: Steam Early Access
Type: Single-player
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
Developer: Pixel Machine
Publisher: Pixel Machine
Release Date: 26 Feb, 2020

Overview

Invasion Machine is a simulation game where you fight the post-war against insurgents in a recently occupated foreign country: following your invasion, you were not able to establish a new local government and left a power vacuum in the country, which led to riots and the rise of new powers, that you’ll now have to fight off. If that’s not enough, the political debate that grew around this issue made it so you’ll also have to control how the rest of the world sees your fight and, you know, you want them to know you’re winning…

Too little, too early

Let’s say it immediately: the biggest problem of Invasion Machine is its current state of development. The game right now is basically a sandbox demo missing incredibly important features, like savegames, sold at 15.99€ to show the potential of the game. Invasion Machine features a sandbox mode, where you start with a handful of soldiers in a big map and are given missions from time to time: the more you proceed into the game, the more you get to see of it, like enemy ambushes with IEDs on the streets or attacks aimed at capturing your VIPs. Along with managing the fight against the insurgents, you’ll have to safeguard the civilians living in the area, offering them protection and support.

One of my light transport mounting a .50 cal engaging enemy troops. The initial vehicles are quite weak and feature the wrong camos because they got recycled from the war in other parts of the now occupied country.

You’ll eventually get to see this aspects of the game, but only if you play rather long sessions: the game, as I’ve already said, doesn’t even feature a savegame function, so you’ll have to start over every time you close the game… and every time it crashes. Not an incredible idea in a realistic strategic sandbox game, which is a genre that usually makes every decision count.

Little content with a lot of depth

It’s clear at this point that Invasion Machine doesn’t offer a lot of content, but what it offers actually has depth in terms of mechanics and gameplay. In fact, the player doesn’t have the only task of fighting enemy groups, but also of controlling the traffic (in order to catch enemy patrols), protect and support nearby villages and ultimately manage its reputation with both the civilians in the region and the higher-ups at home. In this regard everything is handled realistically, so when you go to talk to villagers, you’ll need an interpreter on your squad, otherwise the civilians will talk gibberish.

My first report was barely sufficient, I killed several insurgents but at the cost of a civilian, who was caught in the middle of a fight. My reputation with the population dropped, though.

Killing enemies will have a little positive impact on your reputation, while losing soldiers or, even worse, killing civilians will result in your reputation with the population and your country to drop significantly, making the game significantly difficult, especially at the start where you only have a little team of men.

A mountain to climb

Like a lot of aspects of Invasion Machine, the tutorial is severely lacking due to the (very) Early Access stage. A bunch of textboxes doesn’t suffice the absence of a proper tutorial and therefore the player is left wondering how everything works, with very little help from the game, making the initial phase of trial and error complex and frustrating.

On top of the tutorial problem, the game has bugs, crashes and a very poor pathfinding algorithm that can result in funny situations inside the game that really break the immersion the game strives to create.

The pathfinding is particularly problematic with traffic, so that when the player moves something in the street, civilian cars and trucks tend to create traffic jams out of nowhere.

Verdict

Invasion Machine was released way before it should have and it basically shows this in every aspect: gameplay problems, lack of a tutorial and of savegame options are just some of the problems affecting the game. The potential is there, sure, but I would advise waiting at least some months before picking up this game, otherwise you’ll risk finding yourself with a demo that will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

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