The Invisible Hand Review

For Power Struggle Games, the release of The Invisible Hand could not have been planned for a better time. After the particularly high-profile stock fiasco at GameStop earlier in the year, many gamers have become somewhat attuned to the ups and downs of the stock market. In The Invisible Hand, players are able to manipulate that. Invisible Hand is the first major project from indie French game studio Power Struggle Games, published with the help of Fellow Traveler Games. For Fellow Traveler, publishing games like this is nothing new. The indie label focuses on supporting games with a narrative focus, such as recent releases such as the noir space and time adventure, Genesis Noir, or the innovative xenobiology studies of In Other Waters. While The Invisible Hand is expected to be a full-on stock market simulator, players should go in thinking it’s more of a narrative story with stock market mechanics. stocks go up and down From the very beginning, players are immersed in the game during the utter turmoil of a stock firm experiencing a market crash, providing insight into the possible highs and lows of the race. Soon, the main character booked an interview with the trading firm FERIOS Capital, where they filled out an ethics questionnaire, where each correct answer was conveniently chosen for the player. Of course, the player is recruited to FERIOS, and goes to the office on a sunny day in the fall of 2023 to start their new career. The basic gameplay of The Invisible Hand is pretty straightforward. At the player’s computer station, they can buy and sell stocks of all kinds, hoping to make as much profit on each trade as they can. On day one, players will only have access to a limited number of stocks, but more will be added to their portfolios throughout the game, from Dark Roast Co.’s coffee goods. to FBR EarthDrill’s coal products. Players can sort each stock by associated material, product, currency, or even country of origin. There are four screens that players can switch to, but only one will see the most action. Players invested in the game may find themselves using the top two screens to select their favorite stocks to watch, but otherwise, they’re worthless. The game provides several useful tools so that players are not completely in the dark about the up and down trends of stocks. The first of these is the Trade Feed, which can be found on the main screen used by players. It presents various news outlets and reports about market trends, giving clues as to whether the value of a stock, product, or material will increase or decrease. The catch is that they are not all equally reliable. More reliable tips will have more “likes,” but the market itself will always be volatile. International News Networks and GEISTnet are two additional sources of information for players, the latter of which is more accurate thanks to insider knowledge, which eventually causes trouble. stock information There are a lot of gameplay mechanics that help give Invisible Hand a more solid feel, but some are clearly more used than others. Players are able to purchase certain lobbyists to try and increase or decrease the value of certain goods, materials, or currency. The game also gives players a unique way to change the time in the form of coffee and tea. The strength of each drink can be adjusted, but coffee speeds up time, while tea slows it down. At the end of each day, players will also receive an evaluation of their performance, showing experience gained, if they’ve met the daily challenge, and if the public has caught on to the player’s shady use of lobbyist The end of each day will also allow players to use the Lifestyle window to see some aspect of their life outside of work. First, players can see their personal accounts, including how much they earned that day. Players can also buy and lease property, which can be rented out for extra income per day, or used to host an office party of some kind. Each day is often the same. Players enter the office, have a casual conversation with the receptionist, then head to the workroom to begin a day of trading. It’s not until about mid-game that more narrative aspects come into play. Not too much can be revealed without spoiling the plot, but player meddling in the affairs of other countries through the use of lobbyists comes at a price. a union pamphlet While the actual narrative of The Invisible Hand is intriguing, the gameplay lacks depth – it’s just complicated. Once every possible stock portfolio was unlocked, it became difficult to follow most of them, let alone all of them. There is nothing worse than investing in a stock and sending out lobbyists to raise the value of said stock, only to have the game arbitrarily decide that it should crash instead. Eventually, that stock just had to be sold at a loss in hopes of doing better in the future. There are additional world-building elements that could also be improved. The FERIOS office can be explored at will, allowing players to interact with many items through the office, even if it is not very large. One would think that adding a mechanic where players can pick and place items like picture frames and books would mean making sure every surface in the office is solid, but it’s not. Unfortunately, several surfaces throughout the office are not physically solid, so when trying to put a book down it just falls straight to the floor. It doesn’t affect the narrative or actual gameplay, but it’s still weird. Even more, while most players will simply leave the office immediately at the end of the day, no one is forcing players to do so. As the light outside the windows dims, players can stay in the offices until midnight (before the new day starts automatically), and nothing changes. No maintenance crew comes in, even as it repeatedly chases the office TV screens, and co-workers stay at their desks. Furthermore, it’s always a bit confusing to hear the sounds of a busy, active office environment when there’s only one person in the office with the player. These are just a few of the ways The Invisible Hand shows its flaws, showing a lack of polish in some areas. wall with posters of stock market trends While there are aspects of The Invisible Hand that raise eyebrows, there are more times when the game is genuinely entertaining. The dialogue is funny and downright hilarious at times, and it’s always fun to hear a co-worker’s rant when they get fired for whatever reason. It’s also fun to start throwing things at co-workers after getting fired once, playing the part of a disgruntled ex-employee who storms out of the office. The game has some great sound effects, along with a funny soundtrack that helps each day pass, especially those special moments. Plus, over the course of the entire game, there’s no better feeling than investing in a stock that’s just started to go up in value, leading to a massive payday due to sheer luck. When all is said and done, The Invisible Hand is a critique of the economics of capitalism, presented through a story that focuses on the management of stocks. Unfortunately, those looking for a game with a deep and innovative stock simulator system will not find it in The Invisible Hand. What players see is an entertaining experience for a few hours, driven by the desire to be a better stockbroker than their co-workers. Power Struggle Games should be proud of the release of The Invisible Hand, which lets players live out the fantasy of being a big-time stock trader, while warning them of the larger consequences of capitalism, and Wall Street, “invisible hands .” Invisible Hand is now available on PC. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review. MORE: 10 Indie Games You Should Look Forward To In 2021

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