Developed by PolyKnight Games, InnerSpace is a game about serenely exploring aerial spaces. By flying through enclosed worlds and navigating both narrow passageways and wide open spaces, players will collect relics from forgotten ages and encounter ancient gods, carrying on their legacy as they travel between worlds.
InnerSpace is set in the final days of a place called the Inverse, a series of long dead inside-out planets where gravity is inverted.
The player, as a newly-minted flying mechanized being called a Cartographer, must aid their creator, the Archaeologist, in gathering the last remaining memories of wandering ancient gods before all knowledge of the Inverse is lost forever.
The Archaeologist is verbose, almost to the extreme, which can be a bit grating at the game’s outset. Pay attention, however, because The Archaeologist is the primary source of context for what is going on in this world, and the one that can give the player direction, something I sorely needed as the game went on.
Like a strange cross between Descent and Star Fox sans combat, InnerSpace is all about navigating spaces, exploration, and discovery. Like Star Fox, players are able to slightly speed up and slow down, but must master the art of drifting, or air-stalling, if they are to navigate efficiently. While the flying mechanics can take some getting used to, once I got a hang of it, quickly reversing directions or dropping like a rock and diving underwater became very satisfying.
InnerSpace’s bizarrely disorienting aerial gymnastics are, in some ways, also reminiscent of PlayStation exclusive Gravity Rush. Players are able to freely twist and turn in every direction, and since the world is set on the inside of a sphere, there is truly no such thing as right-side-up.
When first learning to reorient myself while playing, I was reminded of Orson Scott Card’s famous military science fiction novel, Ender’s Game, and the titular character’s first experience in the Battle Room. He was able to avoid nausea by thinking of whatever was below him as “down” and while I never felt sick while playing the game, it did make it easier to navigate the space, which was my greatest challenge in a game without traditional video game combat.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
InnerSpace begins with muted colors, an admittedly drab game that seems rather unremarkable at first. While the simplistic visuals were still appealing to me, far away objects like smoke stood out as low-quality in contrast to the smooth or polygonal environment, and seemed to create an inconsistent visual style. After traveling to a different world, however, the game became much more vibrant, and organic shapes mixed with inorganic ones to create truly fascinating landscapes.
The strange smoke still stood out, however, along with most white objects viewed from a distance, and I also noticed some slight framerate reduction from time to time. The team at PolyKnight Games created a game that is heavy on almost impressionistic atmosphere, but lacking, in a small degree, in technical polish.
The electronic soundtrack is relaxing and ethereal, and when I wasn’t completely lost in a level, desperately trying to find my next goal, I enjoyed the sensation of simply meandering about.
InnerSpace is a contemplative and largely serene experience. Soaring through strange worlds gathering wind and relics is enjoyable. Although some minor roadmapping might make it easier to avoid getting lost, and there is a learning curve for maneuvering effectively, InnerSpace is different from most other games available on the Switch, so if you are looking for something new, you might want to give this game a shot.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Aspyr Media, Inc.
Developer – PolyKnight Games
Price – $19.99
Genre – Adventure, Other
Size – 2.0GB
Brian Barnett has loved video games ever since his uncle Jimmy introduced him to them at the ripe old age of five. His wife, Audrey, was also introduced to video games by her uncle, lending credence to Brian’s theory that behind every gamer, there is a cool uncle.
Since playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES, Brian has had a passion for Nintendo games. The first thing he did when he started earning money was save up and buy himself a Game Boy, and they quickly became inseparable. Through the years, this led to his special love of portable game consoles, so the release of the Switch is the perfect storm of Nintendo action he has been waiting for.
In addition to his gaming obsession, Brian enjoys playing drums, writing and listening to music, and hosting a weekly video game and nerd culture podcast.
He is an extrovert, and loves talking about and playing games with others, so let him know if you want to team up and play together!
Plays: Switch, New 3DS, SNES, NES, GBA, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Vita