You may not even have heard of Stanisław Lem, but if you are reading this, his work likely made an impact on something you liked. Will Wright has recognized the Polish science fiction writer’s back catalog as a major contributor to his creation of The Sims. Futurama showrunner David X. Cohen has admitted that Bender owes a debt to the Cyberiade, while Hideo Kojima has repeatedly alluded to Lem both inside and outside of his critically acclaimed video games.
If you’ve read any of Stanisław Lem’s novels, you are probably surprised that it took so long for a studio to convert one of their stories straight into a video game that feels like the perfect medium for their meaty reflections on AI, futurology and space exploration.
The studio breaking this pattern is Starward Industries, a new team based in Krakow, Poland made up of 1
(Image credit: Insomniac Games)
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Its founder and CEO is Marek Markuszewski, who explains to GamesRadar + why Lem was the source material for his first project, a science fiction based on the author’s acclaimed novel, The Invincible.
“Among Lem’s works, The Invincible stands out as a relatively simple story,” he explains, “which unfolds at a good pace, immersing readers in the intriguing and increasingly breathtaking series of events.”
“The book is breathtakingly picturesque and reads like a finished script. It’s both epic and believable, combining space exploration and strong dynamism among the starship crew. The novel’s imaginative value has received multiple praise from critics and other writers, Theodore Sturgeon named it “Science fiction in the great tradition”. “
Cold war, cold planet
The Invincible is set on the planet Regis III and is set in a world where the Cold War never ended. Humanity is being robbed of its digital revolution as the superpowers continue to be obsessed with the space race and lead their rivalry to the stars. You will follow in the footsteps of an astronaut trapped in this analog future. Markuszewski promises a cinematic story that puts atmosphere, artistic style and player placement in the foreground.
“When rotating the descriptions and vibrations [of The Invincible] We mostly worked with two sources for interactive visuals, “he tells me.” The first of these is the atomic punk aesthetic, which is very prevalent in comics, cinema, and television, and is inspired by classic works by people like Chris Foss and Chesley, Bonestell or Syd Mead. “
“We also examined the original designs of spacesuits and clothing used during the Cold War, as well as spacecraft, vehicles, various tools, and implements made in the Soviet Union. All of these have come together and have been in The Invincible.” a fresh and unique retro-futuristic visual style. “
Starward Industries has been secretly working on The Invincible for a while, but today’s release has confirmed that the game is targeting PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X and is slated for release in the second half of next year to improve development on Epics Unreal Engine 5.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to build a new studio amid a global pandemic, Starward thankfully had most of its work structures in place earlier in the year, although Markuszewski admits – as is the case with many studios at the moment – development of The Invincible was “disrupted to an extent that we never expected” by the ongoing turmoil.
“Since we’re not a big team, changes in workflows and communication were implemented quickly. From today’s perspective, I can say that this actually had a good side in terms of restarting and refreshing our thoughts on improving robustness. ” . “
Markuszewski, who himself worked as a producer and project manager at CD Projekt Red for four years, is more than pleased to see that an element from Starward Industries is repeating the story of this studio to “get a new IP based on a locally recognized series of novels develop.” and turned them into video games with a global footprint, “admitting that” without CD Projekt’s appetite for dreaming big, we wouldn’t be where we are today as a developer community “.
But not only the Cyberpunk 2077 developer filled Starward with his creative drive. The Polish nation itself continues to emerge as one of the healthiest and fastest growing markets for game development, and is home to large independent studios like Techland among a host of smaller teams totaling 400.
“This would never be possible without a strong drive for high literacy and engineering-oriented training in Poland since the Soviet era,” says Markuszewski when asked about Poland’s unique status in the industry. “When the first 8-bit computers hit the market in the mid-1980s, both a software development scene and a community of gamers started with a strong shared feeling that this was our chance for a lifetime.”
No wonder the studio is excited about a game that explores the horrors of a world where the USSR never collapsed.
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