InnerSpace is a relaxing, flying exploration indie game that accomplishes what it sets out to do. With that said, this colorful game lacks some directional tools to help keep track of its linear path.
Developer: PolyKnight Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Linux
MonsterVine was provided a PS4 code for review
Sometimes you just need a game to chill out with, one that lets you explore its world with simple controls and no pressure of failure. InnerSpace, developed by independent studio, PolyKnight Games, is certainly that game. Navigating an aircraft in colorful, inverted spherical levels, InnerSpace had a calming effect on me. But that effect waned when I tried to tackle its linear path, thanks to a lack of directional tools. Still, Innerspace works as a relaxing, flying adventure.
The game takes place in the Inverse during its final days of existence. You play as a flying artificial cartographer built by an archaeologist. The archaeologist needs help recovering the last bit of relics left by the Ancients, a civilization that has disappeared. You’ll find these relics by flying and diving into oceans found in the different chambers of the Inverse. While there is a narrative line to follow, the game allows you to explore and progress the story at your own pace.
Flying around the Inverse is a relaxing experience. The controls are simple and intuitive, which helped convey the tranquil nature of the game. Transitioning between flying and piloting your aircraft in the water is seamless. The game doesn’t throw overly complicated obstacles at you, and doing so I think would’ve ran in direct contradiction of the game design.
You’ll unlock different airframes by collecting relics in each chamber. There are four additional airframes on top of the default aircraft: one you unlock through progressing the story and three for finding the right relics. Each aircraft have their own characteristics like the Astral Wing, which is the most agile of the group, or the Zephyr Spark, the fastest you can unlock. I had the most fun controlling the highly maneuverable Astral Wing because it gave me the most freedom to feel like I was dancing around the environment.
I found it relaxing to navigate around the Inverse when I wanted to explore. But when I wanted to complete some of the story objectives, it became a little more tedious. Many times I drifted aimlessly looking for whatever it was I was supposed to find. To be fair, many of the objectives will become self-explanatory once you find them, but getting to that point was a pain. Even the archaeologist wasn’t much help, offering advice that was more vague than clear.
It also didn’t help that some objects didn’t pop in to view until I got close. The draw distance became more of an issue as the levels got larger. In the hub chamber, where there’s a lot of collecting to be done, I had trouble locating the archaeologist who floats in the water in a submarine. There is an indicator over the submarine, but since the draw distance was limited I didn’t see it until I was close enough. Without any way of tracking direction, like a map or compass, it took me a while to get my by bearings in each level.
InnerSpace doesn’t do well with direction, but I think that’s the point. You’re meant to fly through the levels without thinking if what you’re doing is right or wrong. There’s no up or down in the traditional sense. The levels are designed like an inverted sphere where gravity pulls outwards instead of inwards. The freedom that comes from that design means you never feel like you’re failing.
The Final Word
For what it is, InnerSpace works. It’s unlike other flying focused games where failure and aircraft handling are tied together. Instead, the game allows you to chill out and wander around. The calming art design sets the mood with its ephemeral style, similar to three-dimensional chalk art. With that said, if impatience is more your thing, than InnerSpace’s lack of directional tools will turn you away.
– MonsterVine Rating: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair