GAME REVIEW: The Inner World Collector’s Edition

innerworldboxWind. Too much of it can see your house blown down, or at the least your azaleas ruined. Too little might make it hard for your kite to fly, but in general, a lack of wind doesn’t cause too many problems. That is unless you live underground in a massive hollow space that happens to be surrounded by soil and gets its only ventilation via three large wind fountains. Then no wind turns out to be very serious indeed.

The Inner World, by independent developer Headup Games and published by Merge Games, is a 2D point-and-click adventure game set in Asposia, a world in just such a predicament. You take control of Robert, a court musician who isn’t really like the other citizens around him. He is naïve and is afflicted with a level of curiosity that contributes more than a little to his trials and tribulations. His cushy life is one day interrupted with the appearance of one hungry pigeon and a thief called Laura. Just as Alice has her attention ensnared by the white rabbit disappearing down a rabbit-hole, Robert’s is grabbed by a pigeon disappearing down a garbage tube. This is the beginning of his adventure and his unwitting quest to find out what is really happening: why the wind is going, who the scary Basylians are, and to truly see what is going on with his world.

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The characters and world are lovingly drawn, the art style helpful in letting you see what is going on, whilst also creating a great sense of place. Asposia is home to some truly bizarre denizens, from the illuminated Fosfos that float lazily in the air like balloons as a source of light, to the monkey-like Wooloof, and lizard-like Gorfs. In tandem with this is the sound design, which is also excellent. The soundtrack is relaxing yet also filmic in quality, the soft music giving you a slow tempo to think and ponder over whatever puzzle you might be contemplating. The voice-acting is also top-notch. No two characters sound the same, and it sounds very much like the voice actors enjoyed what they were doing, and this carries through in their performances.

The dialogue between Robert and the other characters is humorous and light-hearted, and there is certainly a lot of it. There are a whole variety of interesting characters, from the inept shady salesman who I suspect has never made any money, to the world-weary wind-monk or the small child who is either the greatest liar in Asposia, or the greatest threat it has ever seen. I am one of those people who just has to select every conversation option to find out the maximum amount of information, and while enjoyable, in some conversations there were quite a lot of repetition based jokes, which got a little old if I’m honest. There were also a couple of instances of the voice dialogue not actually playing but with readable speech bubbles on-screen this was just a minor hiccup. The game seemed totally free of any other glitches.

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The narrative of the game impressed me with its multiple layers of meaning. While on the surface, some of the goings-on seemed simplistic and self-explanatory, only a small amount of thought showed them to be metaphors for larger issues such as the oppressiveness of religion, the free flow of information and the trade-off between security and freedom when under threat by some enemy. There are even some knowing nods to the game mechanics themselves, such as Robert in one scene of self-awareness confessing his need to comment on everything continuously.

The puzzles themselves are of the standard type, merging things in your inventory to make new things, getting things for people and the odd puzzle that requires finding the correct combination of switch or lever manipulation to solve. For the most part, they are not too challenging. The game is clever at revealing new locations to you so you are never overloaded with too many possibilities. I still found myself in the “try everything” frame of mind at times, trying to create stuff with every item or trying to give every item to someone to see what happened. This shows that the simplicity doesn’t make too easy. Like any game, I became stuck for periods of time but these were just slight road-bumps in a generally pleasing difficulty level that for the most part isn’t too taxing, while still giving you a feeling of accomplishment when something finally clicks.

The Collector’s Edition box itself contains a drm-free version of the game, an art card, sticker, soundtrack, digital “World of Asposia” encyclopedia and a digital “Peck the Pigeon” crochet pattern, which all help to flesh out the game world that little bit more.

The Inner World Collector’s Edition is a pleasant visit to a creatively designed world that is a pleasure to explore and learn about. If you are a 2D point-and-click adventure novice, I think it would be a great game to sharpen your teeth on. The game does what it can to help you, such as the ability to hold down the left mouse button to reveal all the interactive areas/items in the scene, and in not overloading you with too many combinations of items. Seasoned point-and-clickers may find it a little easy but I am sure that regardless of your skill level, you will find the world of Asposia well worth a visit.

It is available to buy from the Merge Games online store, and many of the usual game selling places. It runs on PC and MAC and is rated PEGI 12.

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Casey Douglass

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