Point-and-Click games can be seriously off balanced if the combination between gameplay and story don’t blend together well. Even if they do, it’s not very often that we play such a game and end up loving it. Neko Entertainment has recently published a classic-style, hand-drawn adventure called ‘The Inner World’, jointly developed by Headup Games and Studio Fizbin. This game lets players experience an atmospheric and humorous tale of two young citizens, packed with startling incidents, in a very bizarre world. Puzzles occur every step of the way and an amazing storyline and incredible voice-acting make The Inner World a fantastic experience.
The Inner World takes place in Asposia, a world powered by three wind fountains. After a devastating attack by the displeased Wind-Gods known as Basylians, many Asposians were turned into stones. The rest of the living inhabitants of Asposia are now in grave danger, as two of the fountains are no longer providing air. The one that still provides air is under the control of a Windmonk called Conroy. According to Conroy, he defended the people from the wrathful Wind-Gods during the attack, and has kept them pleased ever since. He now seeks obedience and makes sacrifices to keep the Gods pleased and help them from turning into stones. This shivering story takes a turn when Conroy’s adopted son Robert comes into the scene. He is different than the rest of the Asposian in many ways, especially considering his nose, which literally a flute. The story kicks in when Robert loses something very valuable to Conroy, called Fosfos, something that reminds Conroy about the most glorious day of his life. Having never stepped foot outside the Monastery, Robert intends to bring it back. Whether it’s a call of bad luck or destiny, Robert is now up for an adventure of a lifetime.
Similar to any point-and-click game, The Inner World has the same basic features such as puzzles, inventory system and conversations. Each sequence is unlocked after certain puzzles are solved. Puzzles are in the manner of tasks which Robert must perform; from making a worm drunk, to flirting with a deadly creature, tasks are as bizarre as they get. There’s an inventory where Robert can keep his collected materials, and some materials can be combined to craft usable objects. The storyline consists of five chapters, and each chapter has three arenas where Robert can visit to collect material or to accomplish tasks. Each and every single task of the game is presented in a humorous manner with the help of people Robert communicates with. These characters are either very mean or extremely hilarious. With a decent 8-10 hours of gameplay, the game will never feel tedious.
The main character, Robert, has a surprisingly likable personality. He may be an apprentice and bit impractical by character, but has a heart of gold. His noticeable polite approach makes him most adorable. Other than Robert, there’s another character, called Laura, who can be controlled in a given chapter. Laura is quite the opposite of Robert, as she is smarter and bold. Having said that, over all character design delights The Inner World. Asposian aren’t the most attractive to the eyes, but they are filled with captivating personalities. This likability is also due to the voice-acting making interacting with each character a pleasure. Animation wise there isn’t anything extraordinary to talk about, but voice acting without a doubt is top class, and gives the game a serious boost. Graphically the game has to look bizarre to match its story, and it does. Not only do the Asposians look strange, but their activities are even more unusual. Imagine a kid stapling down all his pet mice to the floor so that they can’t run away, or an easily fooled guard confused by an image of his colleague being held in front of another's face. These are nothing compared to the humor that the entire game has to offer.
Puzzles in The Inner World aren’t the hardest to solve. By paying attention to conversations and intractable objects players can easily get past each chapter. There’s a board that keeps record of each task players come across. For amateurs, a help button, beside each task, contains several hints and eventually gives out the exact solution. I personally felt that one or two hints would’ve been more appropriate than giving away the complete solution. Due to the bizarre nature of Asposia the difficultly can trump player’s imagination level at times. In such cases, randomly trying out different combinations can help with a solution.
There's nothing about The Inner World that players can’t enjoy. The story is motivating, puzzles are fun solving, and characters are as lively as they can get. The intensity level of the game, however, is the only factor that can hold this game back. Due to the sluggish nature of point-and-click games, it’s easy for players to get diverted from the intensity of the story. Having said that, compared to all of the chapters, the end of the game feels rather shortened and contradicted. The intensity level bakes throughout the four chapters and suddenly delivers the unexpected in the finale. This leaves players with the feeling that the story could stretch a little more and engage them with a more comprehensive finale. The finale, however, doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable. Point-and-click fan or not, anyone who enjoys adventure games will without doubt love to play The Inner World.