Exploring in video games is one of my favorite things to do. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent walking around the post-apocalyptic, war-torn wastelands in Fallout 4, and the fantasy wildlands in The Elder Scrolls. The sense of unpredictability and awe that comes with discovering something new while exploring is one of the best feelings I can experience while playing a video game. InnerSpace is the type of game that speaks to me on so many levels. At its core, InnerSpace is meant to allow players to explore a world much like our own.
Set in the near future, InnerSpace puts players in the role of a cartographer, who is exploring the inverse, trying to unearth the events of what happened to the world centuries before you even existed. The story unfolds by finding relics and interacting with demigods that are within the Inverse. When not exploring, you can talk to the architect, a companion like entity that often aids you by giving advice on what to do next and explaining what’s going on in the world. Throughout my time with InnerSpace, I felt a variety of emotions.
That’s the feeling that coursed through my body while traveling through the environments within InnerSpace. There’s something so calming, so relaxing about exploring without a care in the world. Most video games nowadays are gritty, violent experiences, that can become gratuitous at times. One of InnerSpace‘s charms is that the game often tried to provide players with a laid-back adventure. For that, I commend what PolyKnight Games set out to do.
Occasionally, games succeed best when providing a truly atmospheric adventure. InnerSpace falls into this category. Despite some issues that I have with the game, I found myself captivated by the bright and vibrant visual effects of the environment. I loved traversing and becoming enraptured by what was unfolding in front of me. Players can crash into the sun while on a planet. This changes the world from daytime to nighttime. While it was harder to navigate in the dark, just looking around was a pleasure. Unfortunately, the vivid graphics couldn’t stop me from feeling a more negative emotion.
One thing I never want to feel when playing a video game is anger. Sure, I’ve been angry at video game characters and story developments, when appropriate to feel this way, but being upset at gameplay is something that I never want to experience. Unfortunately, InnerSpace features a steep learning curve that will turn off a lot of players. Flying the aircraft should feel seamless, yet, I often found myself crashing into the mountains and cliffs scattered throughout the planet. In other instances, there were wires that I needed to cut with my ship. This objective appeared simple enough, but maneuvering the ship to align with the appropriate wires proved to be a difficult task. Once learning how to properly play InnerSpace, the game is entertaining, but you have to slog through long stretches of figuring out what to do. Without a clear objective, you can end up flying in circles for a very long time. That’s what happened to me, and I can honestly say that I was often frustrated.
With the push of a button, you can transform your aircraft into a submarine. Underwater exploration controls better than the air, but there are still issues. The transition between water and air often led me into gargantuan mountains. You can’t die in InnerSpace but constantly crashing into the environment is infuriating. If the controls and flight maneuvers were a little more manageable, InnerSpace could have been a more enjoyable game.
InnerSpace has a lot of charm. It does so many things correctly. The environments are lush, the sound effects are charming, and the lore is intriguing. The world had me fascinated, while the exploration had me coming back for more. Despite so many cool development choices, InnerSpace overstays its welcome fairly quickly. The controls are difficult to master, the mission structure is unintuitive and often confusing, the objectives are bland, and getting lost can often be more frustrating than fun. While I enjoyed what the development team set out to do, the final result left me feeling overwhelming instead of ending the experience satisfied. There’s a lot to like about InnerSpace, but overcoming its faults is another journey altogether, and one I don’t think is worth the hassle.