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reviews
InnerSpace

InnerSpace

A game focused on relaxed exploration inside the intriguing Inverse.

  • Text: Bengt Lemne
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InnerSpace is a game with a novel concept, and it's one that makes it feel alien and exciting in a way that most games aren't able to. You're an explorer, a cartographer brought to life with the purpose of discovering a long since extinct world (the Inverse), a world that's inside of spheres (chambers) rather than on the surface of them. It makes for some interesting geometry and, at least at first, it's rather difficult telling up from down and getting a sense of where you're at. However, it also helps strengthen the sense of an alien world that begs to be explored.

This game could be compared to the likes of Abzu and Flower as it's a game about exploration and the experience of doing so without any real stress factors like enemies and hazards, but Innerspace also comes across as far more traditional. The flying mechanics are fairly deep and allow for some pretty advanced manoeuvres, and the items you collect and interact with are more involved and require more thinking and experimentation. In fact, you'll likely get stuck at times as the game does very little to explain what you actually need to do to progress, but after a while, you'll learn to decipher your surroundings better so that what you need to do next comes more intuitively. There are no maps here, though - just a beeping alarm if you're very close to a relic that needs collecting. Most puzzles aren't more advanced than crashing into objects and walls (with cracks), but you'll need to see what things you can actually interact with and that's the challenge here, which also requires a bit of spatial awareness as well.

The flying is interesting as there's more to it than just steering and accelerating/decelerating. You've also got a drifting mechanic that allows for very sharp turns and, as you get good at it, you'll be able to pull off some neat stunts. You'll need to master the mechanics to get into some of the tight spaces you'll need to in order to find certain relics. It's got that quality to it where we look forward to seeing speedruns by particularly skilled players.

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We've mentioned flying and that's the main part of the game, but you'll also be submerged underwater too. You have different frames for these purposes, and when you're underwater the game slows down, which actually makes for an even more relaxed experience, even if the navigation in what are sometimes shallow waters can be even more of a challenge than in the air inside the chamber.

Visually InnerSpace is striking, but also a bit on the basic side in some places. There are some lovely designs, particularly the Demigods (creatures now dormant that once sucked the wind/life out of this world), but many of the structures feel samey and lack detail. PolyKnight does a good job of giving us those alien vibes, but the sense of certain structures looking the same does at times boost the sense of disorientation; often we found ourselves flying in circles trying to figure out what to do next.

There is a narrative here as you're interacting with the Archeologist, the entity responsible for bringing you to life. However, don't expect him/her to be of much help, and the conversations are a bit on the dull side. It's the environments themselves and the world that houses them that are the main narrative here anyway. To some extent it feels like maybe, just maybe, the game would have been better without any text at all, or perhaps a far more fleshed out narrative. As it is it lands somewhere in the middle.

InnerSpace

As you'd expect InnerSpace offers a sparse, gentle and organic soundscape. As you collect wind, musical notes add to the score and there's a warmth to the melodies that eases the pain of frustration as you try and figure out what to do next.

Although InnerSpace is mysterious and at times disorienting there's something special here, particularly if you're the sort of player who enjoys figuring things out on your own without any hand-holding or assistance. It's not a terribly long game, but it will take time for most players to complete as the nature of the game will mean you'll get stuck every now and then. An interesting concept then that manages to both entice and frustrate, overall.

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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Interesting visuals, Great atmosphere, Deep controls, Lots to explore and discover.
-
Lack of guidance can be a source of frustration, Some of the environments look samey, Narrative disappoints.
overall score
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