A group of college friends set off to develop an indie game studio, Polyknight Games, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014 they brought their vision to life and developed InnerSpace. InnerSpace is a futuristic sci-fi adventure game with wings. This title allows its players to take control of a winged or submerged vessel in order to explore and discover the hidden mysteries of the Inverse. The game is an exploration flying game set in a universe of inside-out worlds where gravity appears to pull outwards instead of inwards.
You take the role of a cartographer (Cart) who has been hired by an archaeologist that serves as your narrator for the game, appearing as a submarine. Collecting relics for the archaeologist will allow him to study them further, helping you to discover the truth and mystery within. This will also upgrade your ship in such a way that you can even explore the water areas by diving, expanding the game even further. There’s a variety of collectibles scattered throughout the inverse, such as wind. Wind is shown as white orbs suspended in the air which – given the proper approach – can be collected quite easily in rapid succession.
The core goal is to collect the hidden relics that are dotted throughout the game by completing certain tasks, as well as solving puzzles along the way. Puzzles will see you taking on objectives such as smashing through a wall or cutting thin strands with your wings to release an opening. The concept is simple and comes with a degree of challenge, yet gives a relaxing vibe with its hypnotic sound effects and visual presentation. Sound is comprised of mainly different clicks and bubble noises, reminiscent of those old school games.
Voice talent is replaced with text, which means the player has to read everything to know what’s going on. The soundtrack at times feels very 80s with a deep synthesizer playing long notes, not too unlike the TV show Stranger Things (or so I thought). There are many different worlds that come with unique lighting effects, representing different times of day. Names such as Dawnvessel, Sunchamber and Mornsea collectively give that extra aspect to the theme. Any given world is based on certain areas that need to be unlocked, opening new pathways and surroundings alongside more puzzles.
There are platforms called ‘Perches’ to land on when you need to make an upgrade or simply take a breather. After a lengthy flight, I found that I would lose that all important sense of direction, so it pays off to make a pit-stop every once in a while and grab your bearings. Wind tunnels that whoosh you through a cave full of boulders and jagged edges (quite quickly might I add) are always fun to bob and weave through.
There are transverse gates which are the doorways between worlds and will only be opened upon completion of the currant world. The game also houses plants called ‘Accordion Bloom’ that open up when you get near them. When they bloom a small light will fly out of them, but I wont spoil the surprise as to where this little guy will take you. The game plays very much like an arcade flight style adventure, simple but pretty, and can be a nice break from the crash n’ smash titles released as of late.
While the visuals are not particularly demanding, the gameplay itself takes much of the weight here. You can even play with balls during the loading screen. Yes, balls, you’ll have to see this for yourself. The game runs smoothly and comes without any technical or performance issues. I tested this version on the Xbox One X, and although the game doesn’t support HDR/Enhancements, it holds its own ground very well. The artistic style is amazing, but sadly I grew tired of this title very quickly as there’s no action to keep the pace alive. Maybe other players will be able to pull more from this than I could, but as it stands, InnerSpace trades innovation for a more relaxed enjoy-the-view sort of experience.
Things slowly pick up and the puzzles do indeed become more difficult throughout, which helps to extend the longevity to some degree. It’s fair to say that this is a decent game for all to enjoy, and if you fancy the idea of flying around, exploring, and nabbing collectibles, InnerSpace will appeal to you more than most. On that front alone it’s a solid title that encourages players to take a journey into the unknown, it’s just a shame that the overall package is too basic and simplistic to be considered an acceleration for the genre.
InnerSpace is both relaxing and endearing, but fails to truly captivate due to the lack of meaningful progression and pace. It’s a game that encourages players to take a journey into the unknown, yet doesn’t quite relay what the player is journeying towards once there. It’s certainly pleasing at first, but it wears thin far sooner than it should.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One X. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.