Tuesday, January 16

Review: InnerSpace [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The feeling of wonder when you play a great exploration game is hard to match. Having new worlds and exotic landscapes revealed before you and then trying to find its secrets can be a very mellowing experience, helping all of your day’s problems melt away. To date only the first-person space explorer Morphite has delivered this general kind of play, though its focus was very different as you travelled the universe’s procedurally-generated worlds. InnerSpace, by contrast, is about exploring intricately-designed spaces contained roughly within large spheres, and instead of exploring on foot you’ll do so while flying through the air (or cutting through the water).

You’ll play through the game as the Cartographer, created through the use of ancient technology by someone named the Architect, to help navigate the dormant spaces of the Inverse in search of the secrets of a dead race. You’ll generally be trying to find the powerful demigods that remain in these spaces and to then harness their energy to open portals to other spaces. Doing this is far from an exact science, especially as you progress into the later spaces it can be a bit overwhelming just deciding what to try to do first. In almost every direction there are orbs to be collected, openings to be explored, and strange objects to be interacted with. The joy is in choosing your own path and taking this at your own pace.

To aid you in this being an enjoyable experience the controls for your means of flight are generally intuitive and will have you soaring pretty quickly. Your left stick will help you turn in any direction while your right stick will help you control your speed and rotation. With a little practice this works well enough, though since you’re always in motion sometimes lining up to hit or grab something can still be tricky. Thankfully the game is very forgiving of crashes, allowing you to simply bump off of things, though if you really manage to wedge yourself into the space it will sometimes be a bit painful to get extracted.

What will absolutely thrill some people and aggravate others is that aside from some very general help provided by the Architect at times you’re really left to figure out what to do on your own. Certainly you will learn that any ropes that you see suspending things should be cut, orbs should be collected, and every space you see should be explored. The game provides some help in finding relics by making use of the HD rumble as you get close to them but aside from those generalities the rest is really up to you. Only at one point, unfortunately somewhat early on, did I find it to be a problem in terms of how to properly deal with the first demigod. I actually had made what I needed to do far harder than it was so my advice for the game’s puzzles as well as for finding everything you need to activate and discover is to use perspective. Give some distance, observe from a different angle, and typically with patience what you seek will be revealed. Some fine philosophy and fitting in that it mirrors much of what you’ll encounter over the course of the game.

InnerSpace absolutely won’t be a game that everyone will enjoy. People seeking action and intensity will be sorely disappointed by this relatively “boring” experience that reveals itself with a slow and deliberate pace. If you are someone who feels a need for a constant beacon guiding you to your next task you will also likely find the freedom the game affords aggravating. If you’re someone who expects perfect performance it is worth noting that at times these large open spaces and details can make the framerate drag a bit. If, however, you are looking for something completely different, gorgeous, and full of a certain sense of calm and serenity there’s absolutely nothing like it on the platform.

Score: 8

  • Serenity Now!
  • The worlds are intricate and gorgeous
  • Flight controls are responsive and crashes are forgiving
  • A unique experience on the console

  • The lack of direction can be aggravating at times
  • The intricate large spaces make it prone to performance slowdown at times
  • Not an experience for those seeking action and excitement

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