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Review by: Nick Stewart
Published: June 9, 2000
Some of the greatest stories of all time have no known authors. The tenets of classical mythology, with their majestic, fantastical tales of gods, monsters, passion and hatred, have been told and retold throughout the ages, their unique charms taking hold over our world-weary imaginations. Even such classics as the Iliad and the Odyssey were recounted endlessly from generation to generation before being set upon paper by Homer. The fact remains that while these myths have had no single creator, their very epic and very emotional nature have appealed to people the world over, appearing in virtually every imaginable culture.
While African, Native-American and German mythology have all enjoyed considerable international popularity, few indigenous stories are so beloved as that of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The hallowed halls of Olympus, replete with mighty gods who busy themselves with in-fighting and jealousy, lust and love, and countless other singularly human emotions, have always cast a very unique spell over fantasy lovers’ hearts and has become one of the most revered images of all time. Thus when the gaming industry takes to dabbling with the flamboyant characters to be found within this house of the gods, fans cannot help but sit up and take notice. Quicksilver’s Invictus is one such offering, tantalizing players with the opportunity to satisfy their imaginations while exploring the mythic lands of Ancient Greece.
As is the case with all good Greek myths, Invictus begins with a conflict between gods, which in this case happens to be Poseidon and Athena. These two have held a long-standing enmity, which began with their equal desire to be the sole patron of the city of Troezen, and has continued down the length of the Trojan War. Athena, a goddess of wisdom, war and tactics, staunchly supported the Greek cause in this last strife and often came to their aid. When the bitter ocean-god Poseidon saw his beloved cycloptic son Polyphemus blinded at the hand of Odysseus, he made it his goal to destroy the lowly human on his voyage home. Being the divine sympathizer that she is, Athena intervened, aiding the besieged Greek to safely arrive back to the land of Ithica. Poseidon never forgave the goddess for her intervention, perpetually complaining about the loss of his departed son and the unfairness of it all.
Recently, however, the two have been arguing as to the value of humanity: Poseidon maligns it, believing it to be a worthless race, while Athena respects it, arguing that any person could be a valorous hero, given the right counsel — hers. Eager to do away with the humans, Poseidon has proposed a wager of rather devastating scope. If a human being from a foreign land could survive a number of his trials, then Poseidon would acknowledge the value of humanity. If the individual failed, however, humanity would be destroyed beneath the crushing waves. As the randomly selected representative of the human spirit and Athena’s champion-to-be, this is where you come in.
The path to victory is a long one, fraught with fantastical peril and hideous beasts. Fortunately, you are not left to battle Poseidon’s minions on your own, as you have been given access to your own personal War Party. It is this group that you will command, acting as your eyes, ears, and mailed fist throughout Invictus‘ twenty-four missions. Headlining your War Party are two Heroes, selected from such towering classical figures as Achilles, Arachne, Atalanta, Cadmus, Electra, Hercules, Hippolyta, Icarus, Orion and Perseus. The rest of the group will be comprised of various standard units as swordsmen and archers, though the available roster will expand as the game goes on. The number of standard units that you may select for your War Party is determined by the Heroes’ combined ability to command, represented by Command Points. As you progress, two more Heroes become available, widening the amount of people you may recruit. Of course, all your fighters may perish, be they soldier or Hero. As a result, you may alter your War Party between each mission, replenishing your ranks or simply replacing an ineffective unit — provided that you have enough gold. Though Heroes will join you simply to aid humanity, soldiers aren’t nearly as generous, and fully expect to be paid upon their admittance to your group. In this way, you will find your ranks limited in size by the Command Points, and in quality by your gold, allowing your War Party to gradually grow from mission to mission.
Though they make up a very small percentage of your War Party, Heroes are absolutely invaluable to your ultimate success. As you would expect, the legends of Greek mythology are considerably stronger, faster, and more enduring than their hired compatriots. Hercules and Achilles, for instance, are incredibly skilled fighters who can take great amounts of pain before succumbing, while the winged Icarus rapidly rides the wind’s currents to travel faster than man or Hero. While these increased skills are indeed useful to the War Party, none are so invaluable as each Hero’s personalized Appeal. As the land of Invictus is a highly spiritual one, each character may request aid from the gods. The consequences of these requests, or Appeals, are not only flashy, but serve a very specific purpose as well with each being suited to the supplicant. Take Perseus, for instance. As anyone who’s watched Clash of the Titans well knows, he once killed Medusa, a snake-like creature whose gaze could turn men to stone. As a result, his Appeal is to use the Medusa’s decapitated head to temporarily turn his enemies to stone. Similarly, Arachne was once transformed into a spider for her excessive arrogance, and so she may call upon the gods to revert her back to spider form, where she is able to poison foes while moving much quicker and with increased deadliness. Even gods don’t like to be bothered every five minutes, however, and so each Appeal costs a certain amount of God Points. These points are only assigned upon the successful completion of a mission, and as such you must be very careful about how you choose to spend them.
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