Once considered as the apex of gaming’s technological advancement, the once-dead Adventure game Genre seems to be back on the rise. Mainly thanks to the success of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and the continued support of a spate of European developers, we’re seeing a massive resurgence. The majority of recent releases have all seemed more dynamic that their predecessors, combining elements from other Genres with the traditional gameplay of exploration and puzzle
solving, and despite often achieving greatness, few have really been able to capture the same feeling that the classics; (Monkey Island, Sam and Max, Torin’s Passage, King’s Quest and Simon the Sorcerer to name a few) always did; that of being placed in an unfamiliar world, exploring and solving problems in-between sessions of rampant kleptomania. And here’s the exception; from Studio Fizbin comes The Inner World, a 2D Point-and-click reminiscent of the golden age of Adventure gaming. With a cheeky sense of humour and plenty of puzzles to go around, is this debut creation the start of a new shining era, or is it too tied to the past to survive the modern era of gaming?
The Inner World is set in what can only be described as an “inner world”. Asposia is a reverse world; a pocket of space in an infinite universe of earth. It’s hard to comprehend initially, but the starting cutscene demonstrates it graphically and well enough for clear understanding. The air of the world is provided by the three wind fountains scattered throughout the land. However, the fountains mysteriously stop blowing one by one and the “wind gods” appeared, turning many of the peaceful Asposians to stone.
With the world in crisis, Robert; the inept apprentice and court musician of the Wind Monk Conroy, (protector of the last working fountain) accidentally stumbles into a conspiracy happening right under his flute-shaped nose.
The Concept of the world is rather original, which is something we don’t see often in modern adventure games. There’s a real surreal, alien feel to the whole affair, from the oddly-shaped characters to the opposite curvature of the horizon.
Characterisation is consistent and relatively good. The main protagonist and player character, Robert, isn’t the standard adventure-game lead. Whilst most have a cocky, adventurous side, actively seeking adventure and churning out one-liners, this flute-nosed protégé is a meek, naïve boy in a dark, broken world; completely different from the world he experienced growing up. This unique viewpoint; one which neither the protagonist nor the player really understands, allows for discovery on many levels, driven purely by the outside characters and the secondary protagonist. Robert is well voiced, with just enough innocence to counter-act the ignorance and keep him likeable.
The characters met through the adventure are colourful and genuinely interesting; particularily in the case of the “naughty” barmaid. Whilst stereotypes are occasionally played upon, they are given a real human quality, regardless of their strangely coloured physical forms.
Really, a good adventure game comes down to the writing, and Fizbin have done a pretty good job in both the initial writing and the translation.
A problem often seen in European adventures is translation, both in terms of actual language and comedy. Many a franchise has been broken by bad translation, (Cough, Simon the Sorcerer 4), but luckily the sweet wit, cultural reference and laugh-out-loud comedy is still funny in our fair English; a big feat considering. The Story is crafted nicely and paced well from start to finish, with a variety of interesting locations to visit.
The puzzles are standard point-and click affairs, tightly constructed and interesting. Whilst no-one could argue that it’s too challenging, there are quite a few moments that make you think, with a sturdy, spoiler-free hint system in place for the rare moments where you get stuck. Generally it’s a pattern of “pick up object”, “combine object”, “use object”, but the occasional variety breaks up the kleptomania and vandalism well.
The graphic style is very simple, no doubt about it. Whilst arguable well drawn, it isn’t exactly always beautiful. However, the thick lines and comic-style are very reminiscent of it’s 90’s heritage and perfectly adequate for the game’s overall style, leaving enough unshown in the world to keep the imagination flowing. No complaints with the sound, as the background music adds a nice atmosphere and the voice acting is more often than not flawless.
My only major criticism, which could also be a selling point, is the sheer amount of 90’s nostalgia Studio Fizbin has thrown at The Inner World. Don’t get me wrong, I loved adventures of that era, but time has moved on, as have the majority of gamers. Most successful modern adventure games utilise things like moving camera angles, high-def graphics, new mechanics and branching choices, whereas The Inner World retains the feel of an interactive story, peppered with movement and combination puzzles. Some will love the return to the roots of the genre, but I can’t help but wonder if the mechanics themselves aren’t too stuck in the past to compete with games like “The Walking Dead” and “The Raven”.
Regardless, much can be said of the polish seen in the interface and sheer strength of writing. All in all The Inner World is a high-quality, traditional adventure with plenty of puzzles and a really fun aesthetic. You won’t see many adrenaline-pumping thrills, but if you still enjoy the adventures of yesteryear and fancy a new one paced with nostalgia, I can highly recommend it.
2.33GHz or higher x86-compatible processor, or Intel Atom
1.6GHz or higher for netbook devices
Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate or Enterprise (also 64-Bit) with Service Pack 2, Windows 7 or Windows 8 Classic
2GB RAM (4GB recommended)
Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz or higher
Mac OS X v10.6, v10.7, or v10.8
2GB RAM (4GB recommended)
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.