Quick time events: are they a useful gaming mechanic or unnecessary pain?
The Inner World Review: Why You Should Fear Hedgehogs
Platform: Windows & Mac
Release Date: 27 September 2013
Developer: Studio Fizbin & Headup Games
Publisher: Neko Entertainment
The point-and-click adventure genre is quite saturated, with many just taping together pretty backgrounds and calling it an epic journey. In actuality, these types of games are difficult to get right – you have to create a believable universe with engaging characters and guide the player firmly through the game with appropriate puzzles. The Inner World succeeds on many counts and definitely manages to give us something unique, but isn’t perfect by any means.
The main strength of The Inner World is that it is exactly what it says it is: it feels as though you are exploring an exotic world with its own long history. This is done expertly through the character of Robert – a naive kid that has spent his entire life locked away in a tower. He is suddenly thrown into this unknown world with just as much knowledge about his surroundings as you do, so you experience everything through his eyes. Every character is quirky and memorable and you end up feeling very connected to the game… It’s just a shame that it’s a little on the shorter side, leaving it just short of a fully fleshed out kingdom. Sounds like a great excuse for a sequel!
No doubt, most people were initially attracted to this game by the art style. It’s cartoon-y, but still manages to look unique, and is very consistent in quality throughout the game. The animations and cutscenes are so smooth that it sometimes feels like you’re watching a movie. This is reinforced by the solid voice acting – while some characters sound like a dad making up goofy voices for a bedtime story, it somehow didn’t seem out of place. Though, despite the very kid-friendly graphics, the game is certainly not. The innocent Robert explores a world full of corrupt priests and promiscuous barmaids. Most of the humor in the game revolves around Robert’s odd interpretation of the imperfect society around him. This cluelessness does get a bit old though, and it would have been nice to change it up a little along the way.
Some of the puzzles are quite intuitive and give a sense of satisfaction when you complete them. However… most of them are not. The main problem with The Inner World is that the pace is constantly interrupted by illogical puzzles that leave you just clicking on every possible option to proceed further into the game. The immersion is also broken often as you complete puzzles that don’t have much relevance to your actual goal. Of course, it will somehow end up benefiting your quest, but not before a while of wondering, “Why would my character be doing this?” A stronger sense of direction and objective would go a long way. The nifty hint system gives you as much help as you want, which eases the stress a little, but doesn’t fix the overall problem.
If you click and hold on the screen it will bring up all of the interactable objects on the screen. On one hand, this ensures you don’t miss anything and means you don’t have to click on everything on the screen to see if something happens with it. On the other, it can sometimes take away from the beautiful artwork on each screen, as you tend to just highlight the important objects as soon as you enter an area instead of admiring all of the details of the well-made backgrounds.
Bugs can be a serious problem with the game as well. Personally, I couldn’t access the hint system for the majority of my playthrough and the game failed to register when I completed a puzzle so I couldn’t continue, resulting in me having to restart the entire game. After a quick troubleshoot, many other problems that people have been having were unearthed.
The humor and characters almost justified the frustrating puzzles and technical issues. It’s a shame, because Studio Fizbin have really created a memorable and charming world – so if you don’t care much for gameplay and simply want story and atmosphere, you’ll fall in love with The Inner World. Otherwise, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.
Check out the official trailer, regardless!