Not necessarily for kids
The Inner World is a game that caters very well to its audience. Most of us who grew up with the point-and-click greats like Torrin's Passage, Kings Quest, and Broken Sword, have a soft spot for cartoony aesthetics. However, many of the games that go down that road in today's market do so with a story aimed at the younger generation. Few games combine cartoony art direction with adult humour and subject matter that teenagers haven't got a clue about. The Inner World does this perfectly and is a real treat to play. The ending, however, is a bit anti-climactic and the controls could have been better thought out. All things considered, however, I cannot but give this delightful point-and-click adventure game my highest recommendation.
A game like this rises and falls on its story and this one stands tall. You are Robert, a boy raised in the care of the nice, good-hearted Abbot Conrad in his castle overlooking the only working Wind Well left in the inner world. While chasing a pigeon who has just swallowed the Abbot's favourite pendant, you fall down the garbage shoot and into the city. Having never been outside the castle walls, your naivety soon becomes obvious as you search the whole city for the adorable thief. During your search, however, you discover much more than the winged bandit. Things that will shatter your world view like a receptionist with dissociative identity disorder shatters a mirror.
The story is not the biggest attraction to this game for experienced point-and-clickers, however. Subject matters such as the realities of religious totalitarianism, genocide, the difficulties of being homosexual in a conservative household, using access to vital resources to control a population, and feeding cocaine to a hedgehog are among the topics you'll encounter along the way. This somehow blends perfectly with the dark and colourless environments of The Inner World, almost well enough for you to forgive the stark visual contrast between the crude characters and the relatively beautiful hand-drawn backgrounds. The ending is, however, pretty anti-climactic and breaks the adult theme of the rest of the game, even introducing plot holes throughout the cinematic. Up until that point it is a delight to play, so it's a small gripe to make.
The user interface annoyed the hell out of me to begin with but I slowly got used to it as the story became too intriguing for me to care. The only button you use is the left one. Clicking on interactive items will give you a choice between whether to look at it or use/talk to it. This could have been done much better by assigning one button to the look command and the other to the action, much like Broken Sword does. This would have immersed the player further into the game as digital interface design teaches us to aim for having as few clicks between the user and the action he/she wants to perform as possible. Having a menu pop up is understandable if your product is meant to be used on a touch screen or if you have more than two options, but as that is not the case, it is a poor choice. The game features a very nice hint system which you'll, of course, try not to use for sake of some weird, nerdy sense of pride, but it gives you hints that are so vague, yet so direct, that you still retain that sense of accomplishment as the hint hands you an authentic “AHA!” moment on a silver platter.
A Solid Adventure
Point-and-click adventures are not everyone's cup of hot chocolate but this should hit the mark with anyone who fondly remembers the greats of yesteryear. Yes, it is a bit crude; yes, it crashed on me a couple of times; yes, there were a few localisation errors, and yes, the end credits failed to roll, but the core gameplay experience is well worth the purchase and thanks to the well designed auto save system, you won't lose too much in the event of the game shutting down unexpectedly. This is a solid adventure in a wonderfully creative game world which will not disappoint.
Creative game world, brilliant adult humour and subject matter, well designed hint system.
User interface badly designed, a bit buggy, disappointing ending.