The Inner World
The Inner World is an adventure game created by Studio Fizbin. It takes place in the town of Asposia, a city that exists in a hollow core surrounded by an infinite expanse of earth. Air is pumped down through wind wells, but recently they haven't been working so well. Become a happenstance hero as you venture through the strange new world, chatting up monks who "meditate" at slot machines and staring at the floating fosfos that light the dark inner world.
The world of Asposia is a curious mix of a dystopic fairy tale and a lighthearted parody. Without stirring up any spoilers, the game begins with a pigeon nicking an amulet from Robert, a milquetoast protagonist who has never left the castle monastery. The amulet belongs to Robert's boss Abbot Conroy, the beloved hope-giver to the people of Asposia. Robert is determined to get the amulet back, but Peck the pigeon doesn't seem to be in this alone.
The interface is a simple point and click affair, familiar to anyone that knows what a mouse is and how to use it. Click things you want to interact with and a small menu will appear showing your options, things like "examine", "take", or "talk". Your inventory tucks away at the bottom of the screen and can be shown by sliding the cursor down. Inventory items can be used by dragging them above, and you can even combine items by dragging one over another. If you're not sure what you can interact with, click and hold anywhere on the screen and all hotspots will be shown. Perfect for getting your bearings without going on an epic pixel hunt.
Analysis: Within the first few minutes of The Inner World, you'll get a worm drunk, out-haggle a garbage peddler who has a sandwich hanging in his trench coat, and confess your sins to a machine. That should give you an idea of the tone created by this curious adventure game. The setting is at once dark and depressing as well as cheerful and lighthearted, a difficult balance to achieve that the development team managed to hit spot-on. The artwork, writing and voice acting all play perfectly into this theme, drawing you in with each interaction as you discover more and more oddities.
Puzzles are well-balanced in The Inner World, and each explorable area is kept small enough so you don't feel overwhelmed by your options. Chatting with all of the NPCs, picking up every item and examining everything you come across will usually get you where you want to go. The interface can feel a little slow at times, especially when you try combining inventory items, but The Inner World is the sort of game you have to tackle with a relaxed disposition. Take your time and soak in the atmosphere. It's worth it.
Studio Fizbin has assembled a fantastic adventure game, one worthy of a coveted position as a quick-click icon your computer's desktop. It's the perfect blend of humor and storytelling, puzzle solving and exploration.
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