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The Inner World (PC) artwork

The Inner World (PC) review

"WARNING: Contains Pigeon"

Thereís a lot of clever things about The Inner World, but I think their smartest bit of chicanery came with Robert, the naÔve, floundering protagonist. Heís been completely sheltered the entirety of his young life so knows nothing of the land he inhabits, which is particularly convenient because nor do you. As such, you discover the weird particulars of his hollow world together, having Robert ask the questions you yourself might be wondering. Itís an intelligent way to inform the player about the strange environment they find themselves in without beating them over the head with it; Robert exists in a world built on the inside of a planet. Itís filled with oddities that everyone else views as everyday.

But not Robert. Taken up as an apprentice by a ruling wind monk from a very early age, the outside world is a mystery to him. Being effectively built underground, thereís no atmosphere and air is funneled in through wind tunnels which are controlled by the wind monks. Itís an important job so long as people remain susceptible to suffocation, but the public option towards them seems to be low. It probably coincided with the arrival of the Basylians Ė angry dragon-like wind gods who periodically emerge from the wells and fly around petrifying folk they judge to have sinned.

Forced outside the only home heís ever known by a vicious kleptomaniac pigeon, he strolls casually past the stone remains of unfortunate people long accepted by the citizenship, getting busy intoxicating worms and tricking children out of treasured knitting pattern plans. Not the random acts of a deranged madman, but the accepted heroic achievements of an Adventure game protagonist. Thereís something not quite right with Robertís world, and the only way to solve it is by using combinations of whatever junk you can cram into your bottomless pockets.

It never starts off as an epic quest; these things rarely do. But his innocent blundering slowly starts to shed some light on why heís been cooped up in the palace for so long. Things start to escalate once streetwise urban rebel, Laura, joins the fray, acting as a polar opposite to Robert. Adventure shenanigans ensue, sometimes swapping the control between the duo as they divvy up their epic quests between them. The issue here is Lauraís not very likable. By design, to be fair; sheís supposed to be Robertís yang Ė a streetwise dissident who protects herself with a thorny exterior. But the moments focused on her lack the beguiling qualities of Robertís wide-eyed incorruptibility and his unexplainable instant attraction to her therefore comes off as a forced narrative.

Her gradual acceptance of Robert is significantly smoother in implication, with her withering barbs slowly softening over time while heís instantly devoted from the start. Itís a peculiar storytelling misstep in a game that works so hard on establishing a strong lore for its weird inside-out world filled with people sporting gangly striped limbs and ludicrous carrot noses. All wonderfully captured in their hand-drawn glory. Thereís not a lot of gripes to be had with Inner World and how it looks and how it functions doesn't break that trend.

Nor how it sounds while Iím rolling out the praise; thereís a strength of depth in the characterís voice acting and a tight script considering itís been translated from the original German release. It even babies you competently; built-in hints systems have long become the norm in the current generation of Adventure outings, but some make you work for it more than others. If you and/or Robert find yourself stuck, the hint system can eventually offer you straight up spoilers, but walks you through varying degrees of vagueness first. It tries to gently nudge you towards a solution before giving up on you, silently branding you a lost cause and dropping the answer on your head.

Which, of course, I did not need to use. As I will prove with an awkwardly thrown in screenshot of the corresponding achievement for zero journalistic merit just to feed my ravenous ego:

Maybe youíll use it, and thatís okay; Inner World isnít a Telltale cakewalk any more than it is a Discworld trollfest. Itís a decent game telling a decent story that youíll see off handsomely in under seven hours or so. Itís not without its moments of frustration -- it wouldn't be much of an Adventure game if it wasnít -- but, mainly, itís a charming tale well told.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 19, 2017)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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