Your typical fantasy adventure game usually tends to tap into the wealth of tropes we’ve all come to know, love and expect. A magical world, strange and sometimes dangerous creatures, a looming or hidden threat that only you can thwart. Rarely does a game really delve into the obscure and overtly wacky corners of creativity, the places to which most of us are only carried by the more powerful of psychedelics. With that in mind, let’s delve into one such place; The Inner World.
Originally released on Steam in 2013, The Inner World is a 2.5-D Point’n’Click adventure game set within the physics-defying hollow world of Asposia. A great concave microcosm populated by the wind-worshipping Asposians and their benevolent leader, Conroy. This world of cities and deep woods was once a utopia; powered through the three great wind fountains that fed an endless energy-cultivating breeze into the city and illuminated by the ghostly glow of the creatures known as the Fosfos’. All seemed perfect, until the wind stopped, and slowly but surely the world of Asposia fell into disarray.
In the constant near darkness of this new world, Asposia is now little more than a shanty town amuck with scrap and garbage and under the constant threat of the petrifying Basylians turning the denizens to stone. Above this turmoil, in his palace lives Conroy and his adoptive son Robert; a well-intentioned though rather innocent and clumsy young Asposian. What begins as the pursuit of a thieving pigeon out of the palace and down into Asposia proper soon turns into a much larger adventure than Robert could have imagined. Meeting the outlaw known only as Laura, Robert embarks on a journey beneath the shroud of mystery and deception surrounding the windless Inner World and its seemingly immaculate leader.
In story and tone this game is as charming and sweetly childish as it is twisted, through the hand-drawn animation style you would be forgiven for thinking this to be a game for the younger players. That is until the story content and cheekily written characters turn you on your head. The quality of voice acting is for the most part compelling, the only exception being for Robert himself whose persistent questions and rambling might soon grate on you. Though this is an integral part of his character, it does become laborious as you explore every nook to solve the puzzles of this game. The puzzles themselves and exploration as the core mechanic of this game are the most fun; inspecting, gathering and combining components from all over Asposia into interesting contraptions to progress. It’s delivered with almost no tutorial and can at times provide a great test of your reasoning, though at other times it is just a matter of luck.
The functionality of this game as a console port doesn’t translate entirely. Where the point’n’click mechanic is fine for a PC game; when playing with a gamepad on console it can prove somewhat tiresome. Either pointing your character arbitrarily toward the objective, which doesn’t always work, or cycling through each element of the environment with the Square button which frankly makes the exploration element slightly obsolete as you don’t need to manually move the character all too much. As with any linear story-driven adventure and standardised puzzles, replay value is fairly lacking save for the quest for trophies or to explore what may have been missed before.
So, the verdict? They say it’s what’s inside that counts, and for the Inner World that’s certainly the case. It’s charming with a compelling story and quirky characters. A unique imagination of a fantasy world with original creatures and a childlike mythology through a more mature lense. If you can get past the drawbacks of the port from PC and the slightly clunky user interface then this game is actually a fair bit of fun.
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