Exploration has been key to the human endeavor. It is also key in InnerSpace where you are tasked with exploring the Inverse, a parallel universe. You are called the Cartographer and you work for the architect, a person who has dedicated their lives to discovering the secrets of the Ancients, a dead civilisation who had incredibly advanced technology.
You must fly or swim around solving puzzles to collect relics to discover the Ancients secrets. You must travel through a collection of self contained worlds where you will feel both alone and watched by something unknown. It is your task to find out if you are alone and if you are not, to defeat the gods of this world. There are boss fights in InnerSapce but they don’t see you fighting. rather solving complex puzzles to defeat your foe.
InnerSpace is a highly stylised game that looks very pretty and is determined to give you as little help as it can as you make your way through the worlds. There is a short tutorial at the start of the game but after that you are pretty much on your own. This is one of the biggest problems that we found with the game. You spend most of your time trying to work out what it is that you have to do. In the most part you must solve puzzles to advance but working out what these puzzles are is the biggest task that you will undertake. When you actually work out what it is you are meant to be doing then the puzzles are relatively simple to solve.
When you first start playing the controls the inverted controls don’t feel very intuitive but before long they will become second nature. You fly around in an Airframe. A construction that can soar through the skies and dive to the depths of the oceans, which is handy as the worlds of InnerSpace are both in the sky and the sea. As you collect relics you can upgrade your Airframe with different perks and abilities which can make flying it a lot of fun and sometimes the challenge is to decide which Airframe to use to solve a certain puzzle.
The exploration side of InnerSpace is fun but does start to become stale quite quickly and although the environments look different they are far to similar to add variety to the game. You quite quickly feel like you ae exploring areas where you have been before even if they look slightly different. The feel of the worlds doesn’t change very much. There are always towers and caves to explore and lets be honest, there are only so many of these that we can see without the experience becoming repetitive.
This repetitive nature of the game means that once you have completed the main story there is very little reason to get into your airframe to explore. The main story is about ten hours long and in this time you have probably spent two thirds of it exploring aimlessly trying to work out what to do next which takes the fun out of the exploring.
Behind the story is a lore which is fun but it would have been nice if they had gone a little deeper with it. The Ancients have a lot of potential as a species and it would have been nice to have been able to uncover more of their secrets. Instead we were left with a feeling of having only just scraped the surface.
All of this been said we can’t say that we weren’t left without a sense of wonder at certain times. The landscape will change and something that looked merely like background becomes somethimng much, much more.
If exploration is your thing then this could be a nice game for you but don’t expect any direction and this is a problem that the exploration genre as a whole suffers from. It is hard to find the balance between hand holding and giving you free reign to explore and unfortunately InnerSpace slightly misses the mark.
InnerSpace can be downloaded from the Xbox Store for £15.99.
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If you like a game that never holds your hands and is all about exploration then InnerSpace might be worth a go but if you like any kind of direction in your video games then you might want you give this one a miss.