Creating a game is hard. Really hard. But after a successful Kickstarter and over four years of hard work, the independent video game development studio based in Texas, PolyKnight Games, published their first professionally developed game, InnerSpace. As an exploration flying experience, InnerSpace provides some beautiful moments, but suffers from some glaring gameplay troubles.
InnerSpace throws players into the Inverse, a strange realm where each segment is a closed-off world where there is no horizons (think inside of a ball). As the Cartographer, a self-aware aircraft, players assist the Archaeologist to collect and recover various memories before the Inverse disappears forever. From what was introduced early on, ancient civilizations once utilized the power of Wind and worshipped various god-like creatures, the demigods. However, the civilizations eventually died out and all that remained were the ancient relics and the demigods themselves. Through each major section of the Inverse the story gradually revealed itself, though loosley understood. InnerSpace seems to draw inspirations from Journey, Abzu, Crimson Skies, and other minimalistically-explicit stories, but overplays the explanations – a quiet dud instead of meaningful silence. I found myself perplexed during most of my experience, ultimately just scratching my head trying to understand.
Even after scratching my head for some time, I’m still enamoured by the environments and artistic design of InnerSpace. The bold and vibrant colors really accentuated the variety and complexity of each section of the Inverse. The environments, though visually appealing, didn’t inspire me to explore every creavous and shadowy section. Many of the ruins within the Inverse were mostly similar in architecture and made it difficult to identify key monuments or locations. The sense of exploration was missing, and I wish that I was motivated to look into every nook. The demigods are carefully crafted to provide those larger-than-life moments that were seemingly inspired by Shadow of the Colossus. Those moments of discoveries, paired with the crescendo of the music, crafted some of my favorite moments of the game.
My biggest source of division came from the actual gameplay of InnerSpace. As the aircraft (and eventually a transformed submarine), players must maneuver and explore the Inverse, completing various quests and objectives to move onto the next area. Most of the time, these objectives are implied, but if a player misses the subtle clues through a cutscene, they are then forced to aimlessly explore the area until stumbling upon the goal. This wouldn’t be terrible if the worlds were easily navigable. However, since the worlds are inside-out, one wrong turn and I was completely lost. Worse, if I’m flying and I slightly bump into an object, then the Cartographer goes into a chaotic tailspin.
Maybe it’s my poor real-world navigational skills or the conceptual struggle of not having a horizon, but I often kept losing my footing on exactly where and what I needed to accomplish. Luckily, my precision and mastery with the Cartographer’s flying mechanics finally clicked, making the exploration as relaxing as intended. However, if other players don’t get that “ah-ha” moment, then the well-intended tranquil experience will stay as a fury-driven slodge.
The Verdict: 6.0 out of 10
As the inaugural game for PolyKnight Games, InnerSpace is a well-intended explorating game that misses its landing. Though there are some beautifully crafted showpieces, InnerSpace ends up providing a lot of empty space and a satisfactory experience.
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by PolyKnight Games. For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.