I was lucky enough to talk to the cast and creators of Monlith’s upcoming action adventure RPG Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Myself and other members of media peppered Michael de Plater (Director of Design), Christian Cantamessa (Lead Writer), and Troy Baker (voice of Talion), with questions about the upcoming title which is set to launch on September 28th. Baker, who gamers might recognize from starring roles in The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite, had some interesting things to say about the voicing the game’s protagonist Talion and just how important Tolkien’s work is to nerds everywhere.
A bizzare realm found at the bottom of a large dome. Guardians of the three vents through which life-saving air flows. A young man who finds himself at the center of a conspiracy to gain control over everything. Oh… and plenty of wacky puzzles to solve.
This is Asposia, the setting for The Inner World, a classic point and click 2D adventure from Studio Fizbin, and published by Headup Games. The Inner World has made its rounds on other platforms but will make its way to consoles on March 31st, 2017. If you are in the mood for a great point and click 2D adventure, this is it!
First are foremost, the presentation of the game is fantastic. Everything is completely hand drawn with a style and charm reminiscent of LucasArts-era point and click adventure titles. The characters are strange and quirky, with voice acting that grows on you over time. Your main character, Robert, even sounds at time a bit like Rocko (of Modern Life fame), which added some unintended nostalgia to the title for me. Robert is just as awkward too.
Like many point and click 2D adventure games, the writing is humorous and quirky. However, The Inner World overall touches on some pretty serious themes regarding social policies and death. All this means is that, while the game appears to be family friendly, it is really written at an adult level. For me, it was refreshing to see some stronger language used in the game when characters are bantering between one another.
Let’s talk about puzzles. For point and click adventure games I think of puzzles on a scale from whimsical (give the scarf to the monkey to get the pizza cutter) to practical (place the gear in the machine to start the machine). The Inner World hovers somewhere in the middle, but definitely leans toward the more whimsical side. I often found myself knowing what I wanted to do, and how I would do it, but couldn’t always find the solution with the items in my inventory. Items can be combined and broken apart, applied to objects and the envionrment, and so on. There is no penalty for guessing, so my advice is to try everything and listen carefully when talking to everyone.
That being said, the game is beginner friendly, there is a fully robust help system in the game if you find yourself completely lost. Each solution is given in multiple steps, so that you won’t find the game completely ruined if you need help. In my opinion Episode 3 of the game’s 5 episodes was probably the most confusing overall, but it is always a good feeling when you figure things out for yourself. The game is just large enough to provide a good challenge, but not so large that you feel lost and overhwlemed. The balance is nearly perfect.
The only aspect of the game that was initially challenging was getting accustomed to the use of a controller for a game genre that is more tradiitonally conducive to touch, or mouse movements. Note that you can activate hotspots with a button press, and you need to activate them to interact with them. Sometimes moving your character around will activate other hotspots, you’ll get the hang of it quickly, but pay attention to the controls.
Achievements. You love them, I love them. I would describe the achievements in The Inner World as tricky, but fair. There are a few per episode, and three covering the entire game. Definitely read them before starting the game, as they will help you in not only finding them, but providing some clues within the game as well. Some of the episodic achievements you will find by accident, others you may never encounter without a bit of a hint. I’d recommend two playthroughs, one to experience the game, and another to play by cleaning up achievements. Its worth experiencing with a fresh perspective.
The Inner World is a really solid 2D point and click adventure game. The estimated 7-10 hour playthrough offers the right amount of challenge, story, and humor that will scratch your itch for those classic LucasArts era games. Highly recommended for fans of the genre, and those who like to experience quirky narratives and whimsical worlds. The Inner World comes to console on March 31st, give it a try!
The Inner World was reviewed using a pre-release digital retail code provided by the publisher.