The Invisible Hand PC Review

In The Invisible Hand insider trading will destroy lives in the name of wealth.

By Fragnarok, Posted 10 May 2021

The Invisible Hand is a stock market simulator from Power Struggle Games and published by Fellow Traveller. The game begins after a severe stock market crash and subsequent government bailout. The player controls a rookie stock trader applying to the Ferios Capital investment firm. Players start by taking a personal questionnaire - conveniently pre-filled with government regulation-compliant answers. This is also when the game mode is selected: “Story” where players are at no risk of being fired for performance, “Normal” where players will need to make certain amounts of the total money to progress, and “Random” where the objective is hidden and one will need to discern which mode was selected. Players are subsequently hired as a paid intern.
 

The Invisible Hand|Fellow Traveller|Power Struggle Games|Stock Market


Played from a first-person perspective, players are quickly introduced to other members of Ferios. This includes their boss Corbin, analyst Ward who helped the protagonist land the position, receptionist Miller who got their job thanks to nepotism, and fellow intern Lee. However, who these characters are is inconsequential and random: each run of The Invisible Hand will select from an assortment of character models of different races, ages, and genders, and assign them to these names and roles. This seems to almost be a commentary that in the world of day trading, individuals are not at all unique or special. Ferios is not for everyone, and it becomes clear that Corbin has pitted Lee against the player; whoever makes less profit will be canned in a few days.

The Invisible Hand is played in real-time. Speaking to co-workers, taking phone calls, or trying to figure what is going on will eat up precious time that could be used towards making money. Players may need to be at certain places at a correct time and can only trade stocks when the market is open from 9:00-17:00 (and while both electricity and the internet are available). Players can further change their perception of time by drinking hot beverages. Coffee of different strengths will increase the flow of time, while various teas will slow down the world. Drinking is a permanent effect that will persist indefinitely until another beverage is consumed. If this doesn’t give enough speed advantage, players can also sprint and throw objects when needed (or simply harass co-workers).
 

The Invisible Hand|Fellow Traveller|Power Struggle Games|Stock Market


The Invisible Hand throws players into the thick of things and doesn’t do much too onboard with financial concepts or strategies. Those that desire to succeed on their first run may want to verse themselves on common stock terms and mindsets before starting. Otherwise, it is possible to miss the correlations between various currencies, manufacturing processes, and news updates. For those willing to lose it all, multiple runs of the game can be used as a means to educate oneself on the world of trading and investing. There is an in-game glossary, but reading through it still expends the necessary time.

Players will make money for themselves and the firm by mostly day trading or potentially holding stocks for several days. At first, the only option is to take a long position, the traditional strategy of buy low and then sell high. Soon, Corbin will unlock short positions to do the exact opposite: sell while stocks are high, and then buy back when they crash and pocket the difference. Much later, Ferios will allow players to collect dividends on long positions for small guaranteed earnings but will incur a fee if they want to sell in the future. Trades have slight delays before orders go through and cash returns to the account, resulting in the total amount being slightly different.
 

The Invisible Hand|Fellow Traveller|Power Struggle Games|Stock Market


Personal funds earned each day can be used to improve one’s living situation. Players can purchase mystery items from the Boxes Extravagant service including art, cars, and furniture. If one doesn’t like their prizes they can be resold for quick cash. With enough money, players can also buy a property which can then be furnished with acquired items. The rarer and more luxurious a place is decorated, the more it can be rented out for additional income. Players are also expected by their co-workers to host better and more lavish parties at unoccupied homes.     

Like the real market, players are a bit blind in knowing what stocks will rise and fall. They can check social media to see what people are saying about companies, commodities, and nations. There is even an option to follow specific influencers so their tips are highlighted. Another option is to subscribe to the International News Network (INN) for their paid advice. However, none of these experts is a sure thing. But Ward will provide the player access to GEISTnet, a true source of insider trading that will rig the market at certain times. There will even be daily bonuses for sticking to Ward’s senior adviser. Players will eventually have direct access to bribing lobbyists who can alter the prices of goods, raw materials, or currency exchange rates. By giving into the shadier side of trading, players can quickly become rich and get the upper hand on their business rivals. Attempting to play the market fairly will often lead to financial losses and a lack of promotions.
 

The Invisible Hand|Fellow Traveller|Power Struggle Games|Stock Market


However, these underhanded tactics can have long-lasting repercussions. Former rivals and fired employees of Ferios may wind up deadbeat or could commit suicide. Poor economies and trade tariffs can cause countries like neighboring Balkuador to collapse into civil war, and their Roble currency to be worth less than the paper it’s printed on. Too much reliance on lobbyists may trigger protests that Ferios will continually need to quell, along with Corbin’s blunt ire. The internet hacking group .EXEorcists are also looking for corporations to target and could shut down or infect the player’s trading terminal, stopping trading until IT resolves the issue. But, the biggest threat is the Trade and Investment Commission (TIC) who may go after Ferios or the player for serious national crimes. Players will need to decide if the company is worth going to prison for, or if Ferios deserves to be buried.

The Invisible Hand is best suited for those who want to put their trading skills to the test in a simulation with interesting risks and rewards. For those that have never day traded stocks in real life (or worse know squat about the market), the game can be overwhelming and at times confusing or contradictory. Still, after clearing the campaign one might gain new insights on the world of stocks, insider deals, and the response of government actions (and inactions).
 

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Fellow Traveller
Developer(s): Power Struggle Games
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Stock Market, Business, Crime
Release Date: 2010-05-07

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