Flight is spectacular. Coined by some as the Icarus complex, there is innate desire in most humans to take flight to great heights. I’ve discussed in previous reviews that a great flight mechanic can make or break a game. Flight needs to feel liberating and simplified while also allowing for precision, something some AAA titles managed to fumble last year. So when InnerSpace offers up gameplay that is nothing but flight—you cross your fingers and take the plunge, all the while hoping that you’ll not spend the next few hours grinding your face along the side of a cliff.
Taking control of the Cartographer, you are a type of AI drone brought back online by the Archaeologist, who is either an AI submarine or a man inside a submarine. At first glance you both seem to be the last two “souls” left in the ruins of The Inverse. Legend speaks of an ancient power called “Wind” and how Demi-Gods taught its power thus leading to a collapse of existence—at least that is what legend says.
After learning the basics of flight you’re released into your first Bubble-world and you quickly realise that this won’t work quite like other flight games. It seems ‘The Inverse’ takes it’s name quite literally as each of these Bubble-worlds is essentially a hollowed out globe with water and land mass clinging to the inside of the world.
Take a breath, find your bearings and get to work. Your bread and butter in InnerSpace will be to collect Wind while keeping an eye out for hidden “Relics”. As the Cartographer it is you job to get these back to the waterlocked Archaeologist. Some will be intact, others will be in pieces for you to hunt. In the first area you’ll unlock the ability to fold back your wings and dive into the oceans and your search continues below the surface. This is where you begin the discovery of one of the legendary Demi-Gods, who acts as a kind of boss battle. With this discovery you’ll find yourself on a new mission as you jump from one Bubble-world to the next.
With a stunning art style and calming sound track there is a large amount of joy found with mindless flight. The colouring contains warm tones for the earth and refreshing cool tones for the water, so much so that I wanted to dive into this post apocalyptic landscape as it seemed like a relaxingly quiet location. While you’ll be perpetually in motion you will have a chance to pause and take in your surroundings. Scattered around the worlds are “Totems” that let you tread air and gather yourself before jettisoning off towards your next destination—or linger to watch the ebb and flow of the gravity defying water against the rocks.
InnerSpace does a great job of simplifying its flight controls. Your left joystick controls your pitch and yaw, while the right will give you control over your roll and acceleration—keeping in mind that outside of totems you are an instrument of perpetual motion. The addition of the “Stall” mechanic on the left trigger is a life saver. Essentially identical to drifting in driving games, you’ll float slowly in the direction you were travelling while having the ability to rotate freely, releasing the trigger will shoot you off in your desired direction.
“One moment you’ll be lazily floating in the open air and the next you’ll be chaining stalls through a tight corridor.”
One moment you’ll be lazily floating in the open air and the next you’ll be chaining stalls through a tight corridor. Thankfully making a face first collision doesn’t punish you with death. In a fairly forgiving manner, the worst that will happen is the sensory overload as your drone spins wildly as it hunts for a path without obstruction. Pairing your flight skills with the ability to cut ropes with your wings, smash into fragmented rocks, as well as some other upgrades further down the line, you’ll slowly piece together what happened to The Inverse as you explore its depths.
Unfortunately though this exploration can be where InnerSpace falls down slightly. Being sometimes vague in its directions and a little over confident in the visual queues it’s supplying means that on a few occasions I was left bamboozled on what I should be doing. While the Archaeologist can offer some hints or tips there are some areas through the middle of the game that separate you and leave you circling areas looking for answers.
Not helping this matter is the sometimes confusing layout of worlds. On a couple of occasion I was left looking around like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction thinking “Have I been here?” While other times I found that my adamant belief that I had visited a location meant that I completely missed the answer to a puzzle. Perhaps the use of some type of marker that you could leave yourself would have meant that I didn’t keep turning up to the same tunnel and only realising half way through it that I had seen that mossy outcrop four times already.
The Bottom Line...
InnerSpace isn’t about to change the face of gaming and at times it can feel like a few too many mechanics overburdened the simplistic style of the game. However the flying mechanics are solid and you’ll find yourself feeling pretty good about your skills as the Stall mechanic becomes second nature. With investment into some pretty mysterious world building, InnerSpace left me feeling relaxed and refreshed more than it left me feeling challenged.