by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Wrap up warm
Plenty of games have an ice level or two, but rarely are they set in the Arctic itself. Last Inua is a platforming adventure game where you take on the role of Atataaq and his son Hiko, travelling across the frozen wastes to survive the attack of a powerful demon. Itís a port of a mobile game which came through Steamís Greenlight process to arrive on PC. The mobile roots are easy to spot, but it has become a decent title on the more powerful platform, although not particularly engaging.
The Tonrar is a tricky demon who has arisen in the mythical Arctic. Luckily, Hiko has some mystical abilities which can be used to combat the darkness. However, he is physically weak so he depends on his strong father to protect him and clear paths through the ice. This is the main crux of the gameplay. Atataaq leads the way, bashing through obstacles and climbing up cliffs to progress. This allows Hiko to follow in his wake.
The tables are sometimes turned however, as Hiko has an orb ally which is used to lay paths where there werenít any before. This way he can create bridges across chasms and over spike pits so the father and son duo can keep going. He can also enter portals which will teleport him up to ledges and across gaps which Atataaq can either climb up or jump across. It quickly becomes evident that Hikoís abilities are leftovers of the mobile game. The orb will only lay paths in set locations, and all you have to do is press a button to quickly dart between the portals. There is not a great deal of actual gameplay involved.
Another example of the mobile background would be the sluggish controls. Both characters animate really slowly, to the point where I hate ledges because I have to watch them struggle to climb up them every time. Even turning around and running the other way looks like a chore to them. Itís handy therefore that the actual platforming is never really a challenge. Some platforms will collapse after a period of standing on them, but the time you are given is generous.
In fact, nothing about the game is hard at all. There are enemies, but they are just as slow as our main characters, and they are easily led over ledges or into spikes. Even if they catch up to you, they have a little wind up on their attack animation, during which time you can normally get away. There are occasional dark geysers which spout dangerous liquid at you, but you will usually only die by these if you donít notice them against the dark backgrounds. If you do die, youíll barely lose any progress, as there are checkpoints after every little puzzle.
Scattered good ideas
While the gameplay is basic, and the story is mostly vague mysticism without a great deal of substance, Last Inua really stands out with its aesthetic. It has a lovely hand drawn artstyle, and the weather effects and fantastic backgrounds really build a great atmosphere. Flashes of the demon will appear in the night sky behind the action, and skeletal ghosts will sometimes chase after the main characters, creating a really dark feel in places. In levels where the duo are above ground in the freezing night, the screen will slowly ice over, and the sound will become muffled as Hiko and Atataaq try and stave off the cold. In these situations they need to get to a fire as soon as possible to warm up, or they will die.
If the characters get too far away from each other and need assistance to continue, theyíll pause and call out through the night to one another. Itís nice touches like this which also have gameplay implications that really show off the lack of quality the game has in its other areas. Last Inua has some good ideas scattered throughout the game, but for the most part itís a very average platformer. It looks great and creates a good atmosphere, but thatís not enough to make up for the lack of innovation.
Great artstyle and atmosphere.
Very standard platforming, mobile mechanics are evident in places.