The Invisible Hand review: To the moon!

by Lars
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If The Invisible Hand launched last year, there’s a good chance it would have slid entirely under the radar. But we’re playing this in the wake of Reddit’s stock market shakeup, in a time where the average player has a little more interest and experience of stock trading than they might have had before. It’s developed by French development collective Power Struggle Games as a response to that very event, making a political statement through satire.

It’s not subtle, by any means. The Invisible Hand‘s tongue is so far in the cheek it’s practically bursting out with a tiny middle finger at the tip. As soon as you walk into your new job at FERIOS, you’ll be given an exclusive feed of insider information to get the upperhand on your co-workers. Buy when they’re low, sell when they’re high – and if they’re not high, make them high.

The Invisible Hand

Manipulating the market isn’t without consequence. You will attract media attention by relying on your insider info too much, which obviously doesn’t end well for you. It becomes a balancing act – making your own calls for profit, even when it means taking a risk, and then going for the odd sure thing with your exclusive information.

The Invisible Hand is actually a fairly decent tool to understand more about how the stock market works. I did a little bit of reading back when all the Reddit/GameStop drama was kicking off, but it wasn’t extensive by any means. Through my time with this game, I think I understand a little bit more about how it all works. I’m probably not ready to start my Wall Street broker career any time soon, but this stuff basically controls the financial world, and it’s astonishing how little insight we get into it.

The biggest compliment I can pay The Invisible Hand is that it works perfectly as a simulation without the culturally relevant satirical overtones. You’ll flick through your computer screens, keeping an eye on the market’s movements throughout the day, looking for opportunities. You can back this up with information from your insider network, or less reliable tips from public sources. Between trading sessions, you’re treated to dry, sardonic dialogue that drills the soulless nature of the business home.

“Money is cheap”, my reluctant mentor Avery Corbin quipped once as I paid off my initial debt to FERIOS, “and being afraid of debt is the kind of thing that nobody of any intelligence should be concerned with, but I suppose congratulations are in order”. You are a cog in a machine. Your job is to make money, whatever that entails. You’re only guilty if you get caught.

The satirical approach definitely elevates The Invisible Hand, though. It would work as a sim without it, but the vitriolic attitude towards the industry is what really powers the experience. The dry wit and blatant nods to the very real corruption that is just taken as a standard in the stock market is about as subtle as a shit in the coffee machine, but it gets the point across. This is a broken industry dominated by manipulative multi-million companies. It’s ruining lives, and nobody seems to care.

The Invisible Hand overall thoughts

The Invisible Hand is a bleak, comical take on the stock market, sure to amuse and depress in equally glorious measure. It’s a competent sim beyond the satire, and yet without that layer it’d somehow be even darker – ruthlessly exploiting the markets for personal gain without a single nod to how damaging it can be.

It might not be fun for a long time, but it’ll definitely give you a good few afternoons, well worth the modest asking price.

The Invisible Hand is available now on Steam. Check out more of our reviews here.

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