PAX Online 2020 Highlight – The Invisible Hand

Posted on September 17, 2020

Video games are perfect for placing the player into the shoes of various unlikely roles. The Invisible Hand, developed by Fellow Travellers, is probably the first game to place the player into the shoes of a greedy stockbroker. As the newest recruit at a fast-paced stockbroking agency, you must learn to buy low, sell high and keep your head down to avoid financial investigators. While it is in a fairly early state right now, I am eager to see where the experience will go next.

The Invisible Hand has one of the most disorienting and anxiety-inducing openings I have experienced in a while. The market is crashing, you have a ton of numbers and buttons in front of you, and you keep on receiving phone calls that hang up on you immediately. You then begin your induction course with Ferios, your new employer. It becomes apparent very quickly that if you aren’t able to keep up and succeed, you won’t last long here.

While the game does walk you through the ins and outs of buying, selling and “shorting” stock, it can become somewhat overwhelming. Fortunately, the game provides something of a cheat sheet with an insider trading scheme, GEISTnet. GEISTnet advises which stocks are set to rise and fall at certain times to clue you in on how to succeed. While it does not come into play in the demo very much, relying on insider trading promises to become a risky venture later down the road. Your employers won’t appreciate you potentially bringing the cops to their doors.

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The Invisible Hand is made with Unity, and the visuals aren’t much to look at so far. Admittedly, the game is already mostly staring at spreadsheets and graphs, but hopefully, the office and characters will get some polish as development progresses. However, The Invisible Hand’s oppressive atmosphere and moral ambiguity are drawing me in and making me want more. Plus, I am actually learning some basics about stockbroking; who said you can’t learn anything from video games?

The Invisible Hand currently has a tentative “when all the numbers add up” release date. If role-playing as a morally ambiguous stockbroker is your thing, this is definitely a title to keep an eye on as it progresses.