by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
We are told that The Ancients created The Inverse, sculpting its many worlds using the power of an energy source called The Wind. Yet when the mysterious Demi-Gods came, The Ancients disappeared, leaving their worlds untouched. You play as Cart (The Cartographer) an autonomous flying machine built from Ancient relics by Arch (The Archaeologist).
You navigate Cart through the strange inside-out worlds of The Inverse, gathering what relics you can find and relaying them back to Arch, in the hopes of discovering what happened to The Ancients. Arch will also use these relics to create upgrades, allowing you a variety of improvements, the most notable of which, is the ability to dive. I was immediately drawn in by the appealing simplicity of InnerSpace - as in Abzu, the combination of simple movement mechanics and beautiful scenery creates an experience that is very relaxing. This beautiful simplicity is reflected in every aspect of the game - in the straightforward narrative, which creates an enigmatic universe that also has ample room for exploration, with the relic dioramas, which you can reconstruct to demonstrate their purposes, and with the quirky yet gentle movement sounds.
MAPPING THE INVERSE
The entire of InnerSpace is spent using flight to map the spaces of The Inverse. In this sense, it is good that InnerSpace’s movement mechanics are so on point. They made the game extremely playable for me - especially the ability to drift, allowing you to maintain a heading while changing your course. This is especially useful for any of the flight related puzzles in the game, such as cutting wires with your wings. Also the ability to dive was a pleasant surprise to me, adding a movement system that felt distinctly different from regular flight. While these mechanics made the game extremely playable, I do not think they are the most unique aspect of the game.
The Inverse is what really shines through. It is exactly what the word implies - a series of worlds that are literally inside-out. As Cart, you fly around on the inside of these worlds, exploring their strange architecture. The first time I saw one of them, it took my brain a while to process exactly what I was seeing. The water is especially confusing - as you dive below the surface, you can see the unusual currents and waves that form bubbles around these worlds. The Inverse is truly a unique game environment, and one that I think will offer most players a satisfying series of explorations.
InnerSpace is a game about exploration, I felt that as soon as I stepped into the world. It provides a series of beautiful worlds to explore, as well as a simple yet effective movement system with which you can navigate those environments. It also offers a mystery to solve, a series of questions to answer, and while these are not the most original, the concept of The Inverse is wonderfully surreal. InnerSpace is also not a solitary experience - you are able to ask Arch questions and these conversations establish his personality, even if Cart is somewhat lacking one. The main danger with this game, is that even with upgrades, some players more loving of fast-paced gameplay, might get bored of Cart as the vehicle for exploration. InnerSpace is kind of a double-edged sword - I found it very relaxing and peaceful but I also found myself getting bored of the movement, craving speed, and a desire for a chase perhaps? While I didn’t want to compromise that peaceful simplicity fully, I found myself desiring some aspect of peril. But perhaps speed is an upgrade that is offered later in the game, as well as some small amount of jeopardy? In any case, players more loving of a slow and contemplative gaming experience are certain to love InnerSpace, finding that it offers them a series of strange and beautiful worlds to explore.
Somewhat repetitive movement