There have been a variety of flying games released in the last six months, games like Fugl, AER Memories of Old, and Superflight all have the player experience the freedom and exhilarating feeling of flying. InnerSpace by PolyKnight Games is another flying game but with a little twist. The game takes place in the Inverse, a mind-bending, colorful world of inside-out planets where there is no up or down. As you fly through the skies there is no horizon, only landscape, and ocean in one big loop, and if the sky doesn’t have enough exploration potential your plane can effortlessly transform into a submarine so you can also explore the oceans. With this interesting exploration mechanic InnerSpace has the potential to capture the magical feeling of exploration and discovery but unfortunately, it’s held back by a few little annoyances.
You can buy InnerSpace on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, XBOX ONE and Steam for £14.99
You play as a plane relic that has been discovered by an archaeologist who needs your flight abilities to help them find artifacts that will reveal this world’s mysterious history. As you fly through different areas there are signs of broken monuments and strange technologies left abandoned. The game’s themes of ancient civilizations, demi-gods, planets, technology, artifacts, and discovery make for a really interesting setting. It’s similar to Journey and ABZU in that you must discover the story of a lost civilization through collecting pieces of the past.
Where InnerSpace falls a little flat is that it tries to overcompensate with its story, adding in details about ‘carrying the memories of the gods with you’ and placing extra details about the relics and their significance buts its all a little too airy-fairy and I felt that it should have left things more mysterious. However, I did like the themes of wind and flight and their connection to the Inverse. Wind is used to guide the player through the game, showing you where to go through visible breezes or using little signals like a waving flag as a clue to find a secret relic.
The feeling that the developers were going for in InnerSpace is to strike a balance between guiding the player and also letting the player discover things on their own and I don’t think the game really got this balance right. Apart from the tutorial, the player is left on their own without a lot of explanation into how the world and its puzzles work. I can see why the game doesn’t give you any hints because it wants you to explore and find things out yourself but given the nature of how confusing the landscape is I felt like I could explore forever and not uncover anything.
The flight mechanics in InnerSpace are the best part of the game, The controls are tight and react really well and in my playthrough, I used a PS4 controller on PC, Ididn’t have any problems. The best part of the flying is that InnerSpace gives you the ability to drift, making those small spaces and speedy stunts all the more manageable. Drifting also helps you view the world more easily, drifting backward to see what you might have missed and then the boost you get from storing that energy adds extra smoothness and fun to fly. The transitioning from plane to submarine is also smooth, you press a button and the plane tucks in its wings as you dive into the water.
Even with the smoothness of the flight, getting used to the ‘there is no up’ mindset can be a little overwhelming at first. You start the game in a little cavern to practice and learn the ropes which result in you crashing your plane a lot but you don’t ‘die’ or have to restart the area. Your plane just kind of bumps and skids along the surface until you maneuver it into the air which is handy. After moving past the tutorial cavern there is a moment of magic where you get to fly in the first big area and it feels amazing. The space opens up and you can really let loose with your newly practiced flying skills.
The game is structured with a ‘home area’ with several portals to other caverns branching off from this main chamber. Each world has its own way of keeping flight interesting through testing your exploration and flight skills. The worlds all look so interesting and intricate that you can’t help but get a little excited to explore it. I do want to touch upon InnerSpace’s unique approach to exploration in more detail as it’s a little different to other game’s approach.
From personal experience, InnerSpace is a game designed for a player with a more relaxed approach to exploration gameplay. When I first started playing I was actively searching for artifacts so I could progress to the next area. But because the caverns are so big and perplexing I was becoming frustrated that I couldn’t find them. The game would prompt me to talk to the Archaeologist for help when I was lost or stuck but they only ended up talking to me about vague historical facts about the world. An odd character that one.
It was only when I gave up looking for the relics all together and just started to cruise and wander that I discovered more. When I took my time drifting and gliding that I started to notice things and make progress. The developers say that the player gets rewarded for exploration and I think players must bear this in mind when playing, wanting to find all the items and quickly complete the game will leave you frustrated.
The only other little thing I found annoying is that the ‘normal’ speed for the plane is pretty fast so slowing down and having a look around will require you holding down the break button for a lot of the game. There are little bubbles which you can fly into that hold you in mid-air so you can look around and adjust to your surroundings which help when navigating some of the game’s more challenging areas.
Graphics and Audio
Even if InnerSpace does have some hiccups, the world that PolyKnight games have created is beautiful. The world of the Inverse is bright and colorful and the chambers that you get to explore are huge and have a variety of structures and caverns to explore.
The landscape looks like its constantly glowing with a breeze that brushes through the trees as leaves, dust or snow rush past you – it's a very relaxing landscape to explore. PolyKnight Games say that they took inspiration from the game Proteus and you can see that in the color pallet particularly in the homeworld with its orange and pink hue.
The soundtrack for InnerSpace is quietly ambient with some twinkling motifs emerging then fading out again. Sometimes the music cuts out altogether leaving you with only the sound of rushing air which is also nice. InnerSpace creates a world that you want to explore purely because of its visuals and music.
I think InnerSpace is a unique take on the flight exploration genre. Yes, it has got some little annoyances but I can overlook those because, overall, it’s a beautiful game with an interesting setting and has some great flight mechanics. I would recommend InnerSpace to players who enjoy relaxed exploration through a visually stunning world without minding too much about the game’s minor hiccups.
|+ Flying has tight controls and drift||– Not much communication|
|+ Interesting setting of the Inverse||– Landscape can at first be disorienting|
|+ Relaxed exploration|