Superheroes and comic books have a storied history with the medium of video games. The larger-than-life nature of heroes and their powers lends itself to power fantasies—stealth like Batman Arkham, freedom like Marvel’s Spider-Man, and the sheer insanity that is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. But there’s more to these characters than bombastic beatdowns. With their latest venture, one studio has run with that idea, and proven that one of the best genres for a hero is one of the last you might expect.
From Terrible Posture Games, Invincible Presents: Atom Eve is a delightful branching narrative visual novel with turn-based combat. Taking cues from its namesake special episode of Invincible, Atom Eve focuses on the titular molecule manipulator navigating a few crises of her own.
Atom Eve’s story takes place shortly before the events of the show, eventually catching up to the end of season 1. Across ten chapters, Eve navigates the joys and pitfalls of coming-of-age as a superhero. She grapples with relationships, school, secret identities, what heroism truly means to her—you know, the usual stuff. Much like the source material, Atom Eve tackles familiar teen hero themes with enough flair and earnestness to still feel fresh.
That flair is something Atom Eve has in spades. Style goes a long way in a visual novel. Animation flourishes, consistent motifs, even a striking color scheme help me better conceptualize events in my head, making every new dialogue box an adventure unto itself. Eve’s story immediately grabs attention with a wonderful comic book artstyle. UI is smooth and responsive, speech bubbles and scene transitions are snappy and well-drawn, and the music is so well done it deserves its own paragraph. We’ll get there. Most importantly, characters are visually expressive, written true to their source material personalities while being explored a little further based on your choices.
Those choices are where the meld of mechanics in Atom Eve shines. Through progressing the story, making dialogue choices, and winning fights, Eve will earn skill points. These let her spec into one of three skill trees: Empath, Creator, and Firebrand. Each path offers different skills for both combat and conversation, allowing Eve to approach both in unique ways. Choices are available for moments both crucial and casual, allowing me to get further invested in the day-to-day of Eve’s life. Sometimes we choose blueberry muffins and it rocks.
I enjoyed that build variety was a genuine element of Atom Eve, and took great care to tailor my experience. As someone who refuses to play the callous rogue, I naturally spec’d heavily into Empath. I unlocked kinder dialogue options, changing the course of the story and affecting relationships, arcs, and even the ending I achieved. I also enjoyed combat moves unique to the Empath tree, giving me options that centered around biding my time before striking. I quickly found a comfortable defensive rhythm for most fights.
That’s not to say every fight was comfortable, however. Take the time to do some optional scenes, and you’ll naturally accumulate enough skill points to make most story fights simple. Enemies do big damage, but so does Eve. Fights are less turn-based slogs and more combat puzzles, focused on figuring out when best to use specific moves. More engaging as this may sound, it was a mixed bag.
For one, certain fights feel a bit padded. While not numerous, there are encounters that focus on hitting you with a deluge of smaller enemies. There is serious strength in numbers, as even with good energy management (Eve’s turns end when she runs out of energy, allowing for multiple moves), you’re at a disadvantage. Early on in the story, there’s a fight alongside Invincible that has you fighting a mix of henchmen and drones. Naturally being at a low level, your options are limited and the battle feels like it takes forever. Then, just when the day is won: round two! Five more drones spawn after clearing the first wave, which left me visibly crestfallen. It’s long, drawn out, and doesn’t really add to the tension of the teetering ambulance in the background.
This issue is only exacerbated by the optional fights. One fight against a random side-villain popped up at a point in the story where I was so egregiously underleveled, I decided from then on to just skip them altogether. Fortunately, story combat is more engaging, allowing you to clearly identify opportunities and make clever use of the moves at hand. I particularly enjoyed the delicate back-n-forth boss fights with Universa, the main antagonist.
Much like her fights, Universa herself is very well done. Initially shrouded in mystery, her tale and that of the surrounding characters gradually comes into full view over the course of Atom Eve’s ten chapters. The narrative is a bit lighter than the usual dark intrigue I’ve come to associate with Invincible plotlines. There are meaningful stakes, and your decisions absolutely impact them, but there’s a calmer tone throughout. That said, Atom Eve maintains the rambunctious energy of the world in which it’s set, while still being true to the warmth of its own story. Nowhere is this more apparent than with its music.
You won’t hear too many unique tracks during a playthrough of Atom Eve, but the ones you do hear are brilliant. Right from the main menu, the score flexes its ethereal highs. I felt like I was about to have an experience. In boss battles, the celestial side of the music comes out in full force, adding a genuine feeling of dramatic tension that I could not get enough of. Everything in between was fine, fitting the mood of the moment without standing out too much. Yet, these serviceable interludes only served to make the major highs feel even more striking. Atom Eve’s composers knew exactly what they were doing with every important moment.
From start to finish, Invincible Presents: Atom Eve delights. It’s visually striking, emotionally engaging, and just plain fun to read and get wrapped up in. The combat falters at moments, but finds its rhythm where it counts. The interesting variety of builds and paths encourage replayability, though I am very happy with where my hero ended up (who doesn’t love living out their inner fanfic?). If you weren’t a fan of the show or comics already, Atom Eve will have you ready to take the plunge. To explore a new world. To become…
Sarim played Invincible Presents: Atom Eve on PC with a code provided by the publisher.