THE JOURNEY WITHIN…
You just gotta love how video games come from all different directions from a creative stand point recently, in my opinion they have never been more diverse. Titles over the past five years with silent protagonists like Journey and Virginia that only make the people we’re controlling seem more investable on an emotional level and exploration titles like where every nook and cranny offer something new goes to show that 2018 is an exciting time to be alive for any gamer, which brings me smoothly along to Innerspace, made by American developers PolyKnight Games, Innerspace is a kickstarter-funded adventure game that offers a different experience. A no rush, no pressure exploration experience through a beautiful world that urges you to discover every inch of it, but where it sores from an artistic point of view, it can stumble slightly in its mechanical execution.
Innerspace introduces you to Cartographer, a robotic flying vessel that has been tasked by a sentient water vessel called Archaeologist, to gather memories, information and artifacts from the ‘Inverse’, an ancient realm of space where gravity works in reverse that is soon to die, though the inhabitants are long gone, the great demi-gods still remain, roaming through the ruins with a hell of a lot of knowledge to impart. To me, the developers have crafted a great story for Innerspace, with a playable vessel that is learning more about himself and his companion the more he/she learns about the beautifully inventive world, its history and what became of the ancients that once populated it, and in doing so, seduces the player to carry on discovering so you can find out more for yourself.
Aesthetically, Innserspace absolutely knocks it out of the park in almost every category. With the bright, bold, lush and colourful surroundings even wandering around aimlessly is an utter joy. It’s the colour palette that truly makes the Inverse, from the piercing red of the rocks and structures brings warmth to the environment, the multiple colours of the plant gives everywhere you visit life and personality and the array of lighting used all help to make the inverse one of a kind, also the emphasis on the polygonal surroundings is a wonderful homage to space titles from days gone by like Starfox and even Asteroid, and the underwater sections create a tranquil ambience that’ll keep you submerged in an environment that strengthens the games laid back and play at your own pace tone.
Although for the most part the environments feel like massive open worlds once you enter each new one but when you do come to the tight spaces as you are searching for relics and wind you find a number of claustrophobic spaces both in the air and underwater that will send the camera into an utter frenzy leaving you crashing into walls repeatedly. Innerspace also features a soundtrack that creates a charming mood to this title and really help give a voice to the main characters and Demigods vicariously. The allure of the music is augmented by the pleasant sounds made by collecting wind and finding relics throughout the chambers, however the sound effect that’s made when you crash! (and in my case, this happened a lot) the old school white noise that klaxons over everything else drags you out of the serene immersion almost instantly.
When it comes to the gameplay mechanics, Innerpace is somewhat of a mixed bag. As a whole it’s pretty simple with controls that take some getting used to, but once you do soaring through the gorgeous backdrops is an extremely gratifying experience. However, the graceful hovering does come to an abrupt halt when you are maneuvering the tight spaces and constricted corners of the Inverse. Another control point that makes this title so intriguing is the pure freedom in which you can as you can do so from any angle. As you search your surroundings more and more you will in fact discover more and more giving you incentive to check every last inch but with the 360-degree view point you can easily find yourself disorientated and lost, due to the slick controls and the unique layout of the commands you will be looking into a completely different direction seamlessly which will lead to frustratingly circling around the same area time and time again.
During my time I also had to come to terms with the constant motion of the gameplay, no matter what you are doing be dashing, drifting or turning you are always heading towards something which is both an accurate representation of travelling through space and a spur to give every last drop of your attention to what you’re doing, but there are pillars that give you time to stop and gain your bearings. Nevertheless, my nit-picking is overshadowed by the potent and thought-provoking way to make your way through this game, at no point during my time with Innerspace did I feel rushed or feel under pressure, which helps to make the puzzles and roadblocks seem clearer to you which brings such a sense of inner peace to you as you play which helped combat any irritation I had found with the controls. These go towards collecting relics and a source of energy known as wind so you can watch your little cartographer evolve and learn to do new things.