Point-and-click adventure games are rare to spot on consoles. The Inner World is a promising exception so get ready to dive into the depths of the Earth where a little chum is taking on bad guys and uncovering the mysteries of his flute-nose.
You play The Inner World as the naive and curious fellow, Robert, who has a nose that can be played like a flute. The problem is, everybody else has a striped nose that can't be used to make a tune and he feels left out. Throughout the story, Robert goes on a quest where he discovers other people with the same kind of nose while also uncovering the mystery as to where the wind in the city of Asposia has gone too. It's a strange setup for sure and it allows for a very interesting storyline complete with many colourful characters. You'll meet Laura (a thief who steals Robert's pet Fosfos), a green slimy animal that secretes deadly poison and has razor sharp claws, a two-faced man who is a happy fellow except when he looks into a mirror and his intelligent alter-ego comes out, and so many more unique chums along the way.
The Inner World's quirky art exudes personality and goes into great detail in the backdrops of each area you investigate. The use of light and shade gives the scenery a generally dark atmosphere which contrasts well with the more colourful and simplistic character art in front. It's a unique style that I'd love to see more of. When it comes to audio, simple and atmospheric music can be heard throughout with the odd embellishment of sounds caused by onscreen characters performing repetitive tasks.
The gameplay is very straightforward as would be expected from a 2D point-and-click adventure. However, when playing on a console, it quickly becomes obvious that it hasn't been perfectly adapted from its PC counterpart. To find out what's interactive, you must stand still and press a button to get indicators to show. You then cycle through them by pressing another button, eventually landing on what you want to interact with. When there's a lot onscreen, this can be monotonous. It also constantly got me when I walked up to doorways expecting to just go through then remembering that I have to bring up the menu and select the doorway to exit. Not being able to simply approach objects and interact with them is a bit off-putting but if you have patience then it definitely won't ruin the game.
Some objects can simply be looked at while others can be picked up or interacted with. When you have amassed a few items in your inventory, you'll eventually get to the point where you'll start combining items to form new ones that can be used with another object in the area. When you figure out which items to combine, you'll feel an inevitable sense of pride because the puzzles can get quite obtuse. It doesn't take a genius to figure out you want to connect a hook to a wooden pole to reach something high up but putting moss into a sphere to patch up holes is unorthodox and not an obvious solution to the problem of a leaky container. Would that really work?
Thankfully, the hint system in The Inner World is the best I have ever seen for this type of game. Hints are always available and trust me, you'll need them. However, the first hint you get will be quite abstract and will try to get you thinking along the right lines as to what to do next. The following hints will go a little deeper until it eventually blatantly tells you what to do. Having these layers of hints makes using them feel less like cheating because it allows you to think for yourself after just being nudged in the right direction.
Some games have an extra level of polish and care that shines and The Inner World is one of them. Robert is darling to watch as he interacts with the depressing city of Astoria. His comments are innocent and his voice is so adorable that I'm seriously contemplating knitting myself a little Robert doll that I can hug in real life. For example, in the first scene of the game, he has a conversation with a man in an alley who sells garbage but as Robert's sheltered upbringing gave him no sense of what it means to exchange money for goods, his pure ignorance manages to net him an object he needs for no money. His total lack of understanding of how the world works outside of the palace he grew up in provides some very humorous and downright cute interactions with others.
Other enjoyable aspects include using a puppet of his "master" to touch disgusting things throughout the journey. It's a metaphor for how he feels about the person who abused him done in such a cute way and you'll see the once clean and attractive puppet be covered in all sorts of disgusting matter by the end of the game. Yet another example is how the pigeon starts off as the bane of Robert's existence but by the end of the story, he actually helps him in a huge way and becomes more of a friend.
The Inner World is quite a delightful surprise that manages to keep you hooked to the end with its charming personality and best-in-class hint system. I definitely recommend it for fans of 2D point-and-click adventures and casual gamers alike.
- + Unique and appealing visuals
- + Charming cast and story
- + Perfect hint system provides different levels of help when you need it
- - Controls are not adapted well for consoles
- - Some puzzles are way too abstract to complete without using hints