One of the most remarkable achievements in video games is the ability to enter worlds once believed to be unimaginable. However, in the world of the creative arts, there are no limits on creativity or imagination, and thanks to the tools in our world, we are able to bring life to ideas, making them into a reality that players can be a part of. What begins as a small idea in our heads comes to a sketch, then heads to a computer, and with patience and hard work, come into a reality. It’s a remarkable process that is further emboldened by the context of the world that players become a part of. This is the thought the struck me with InnerSpace, from Texas-based Polyknight studios and Steve Z. When I first saw InnerSpace, I was thunderstruck at how visually stunning the game presented itself. At one point, this game was an idea, but it soon blossomed into a full-fledged experience. A world with no horizons, set against a crumbling city, sounded like a great adventure. I can certainly say this is an adventure that all gamers should dive into as Innerspace marks the first big highlight of video games in 2018.
At first, the world is dark, but then color fills your senses. You have wings, you can fly, and you can swim. But you are not an ordinary human, but instead, an ancient, autonomous aircraft, brought back to life by a lone Archaeologist. Reassembled and fully-functional, the archaeologist pleads for your help. Beyond the walls in front of you lies a special world unseen and seldom heard of, known as The Inverse. Within the Inverse lies the remnants of an ancient civilization, complete with strange mysteries and a special energy, known as “Wind.” Sadly, The Inverse is collapsing, and once it implodes, all of the history contained within will be lost forever. It is up to you to discover relics, collect, wind, and carry on the memory of this crumbling civilization.
Players begin with the basic tutorial of flight and navigation, which is essential to navigating the tight corridors that the ruins will contain. Once completed, players will be introduced to underwater navigation, as the aircraft they pilot also doubles as a small submarine. By tapping the R1 button, the craft’s wings fold instantly and players will be able to dive into the water. Controls are exactly the same, and players need only tap the R1 button again at the surface to return to flight mode. With the basic tutorial accomplished, players are introduced to the collection of wind and relics. Throughout The Inverse lay powerful sources of wind energy and information known as relics. They are scattered and hidden amongst The Inverse and are the key to continuing in the game. Players can search for these relics far and wide across the Inverse. While Innerspace has no radar, players will know that a relic is nearby as the controller begins to vibrate in a pattern. the stronger the vibration, the closer players are to the relic. If players collect enough relics and Wind, they will be able to craft new airframes. Some airframes are faster but difficult to control in tight spaces, while others are slower but more maneuverable. You can switch between these airframes as you discover more. With the basic tutorial over, players are thrust into an unforgettable world.
The very first thing that players do is break through a cracked wall, and in a flash of light, they are transported into the Inverse. In those first few moments, I was in stunned silence, completely enveloped in the world that was presented to me. The Inverse is a world without a horizon. In the real world, humans are accustomed to the boundaries of a horizon. We have the sky above us, an Earth below us, and an infinite horizon ahead of us. InnerSpace works completely differently, as the entire game takes place in a world that is inverted, with mountains and oceans above the player as well as below. While it can be initially disorienting, it is nonetheless a fantastic experience. All around you is the brilliant glow and reflection of the lost city, and within its waters lie untold secrets. Flying in InnersSpace feels fresh, exciting, and revolutionary. You can’t help but feel free while playing the game. The experience gets better as you find yourself leaping like a dolphin from the water and into the sky, and likewise, drop from the sky and plunge into the water below. Additionally, each new airframe discovered yields a new way to play and experience The Inverse. One such discovery has my craft look like a futuristic spaceship. While not suitable for exploring tight spaces, it was unbelievably fast and perfect for covering distances. The flight gameplay is truly remarkable and unforgettable.
The story of InnerSpace is also fantastic, as the themes of closure, memories, and the significance of passing on important lessons into the future plays a prominent part. Throughout the adventure, players will have to unlock and liberate special inhabitants, known as demi-gods. The demi-gods have been locked away within The Inverse and will be lost with the world, once it implodes. Finding them and unlocking their stories is quite the sight to behold. InnerSpace doesn’t quite hold your hand, leaving you to discover the environment and how it works. This makes for very exciting encounters. One particular instance had me chasing strange creatures, which unleashed a surge of energy that brought out one demi-god. I gave chase, caught, and successfully liberated the demi-god. It passed along words of wisdom as it prepared to depart this world for the world that comes next. Moments like that were filled with emotion and I greatly appreciated the clever ways of discovering these creatures.
If there is any drawback to InnerSpace, it is that the game is on the short side. However, games like InnerSpace are meant to be on the shorter side, so as not to compromise the themes and overall mood of the game. But I couldn’t help but want to see more of the game this unique world that was built. Perhaps an entirely underwater zone or a zone made of lava would have been neat to see. However, I am satisfied with what I have played. Everything else about the game is solid and performs as expected. I saw no technical difficulties and I wouldn’t want to see other mechanics, like combat, added to the game.
InnerSpace is an unforgettable experience and already earns itself as one of the big highlights of 2018. From its sharp visual presentation to its heartwarming story to fun navigation gameplay, InnerSpace is an experience that is great for casual gamers or core gamers looking for a different experience. Like the world within Innerspace, there is always a sense of wonder and discovery in the world of video games. Innerspace highlights that feeling, and it makes me excited for what is to come as the year of 2018 continues, and the world of gaming discovers new and untold experiences.