The Inner World (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 29.09.2018

Review for The Inner World on Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch, with its hybrid nature offering a touch screen for gaming on-the-go, is typically a good fit for games of the point-and-click genre. It has been seen with the likes of Thimbleweed Park, The Journey Down and the whole breadth of Telltale Games. It comes as no surprise, then, that other past titles would also find their place in the hybrid system's library. Enter The Inner World and its sequel, The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk, which were both also released on PC in the past. To do things in order, it's time to look at the former of those two, first.

The universe of The Inner World is, rather than being made of dark empty space populated by planets, composed of nothing but dirt. In the midst of this infinite amount of dirt is a hollow, spherical world called Asposia, the titular "Inner World." Asposians live all around the inner surface of this hollow sphere, gravity working basically the opposite way than normal, and they rely heavily on wind power to drive their lives. Wind is issued by openings in this sphere called Wind Fountains, each being guarded and watched over by a wind monk, while these important persons along with the rest of the Asposians are guided by Abbot Conroy.

However, the Basylians, wind gods that come to Asposia through the Wind Fountains are dreaded by the people of Asposia, as they are attracted by the sins they commit and turn them to stone with their terrifying stare. Abbot Conroy, watching over his people and teaching the path of righteousness, guards the now last remaining active Wind Fountain; however, since the wind is now almost completely gone from Asposia. In the midst of it all, Robert, an Asposian with the peculiar trait of having a flute for a nose, is the apprentice of Abbot Conroy. The young lad was told to watch over the Abbot's sacred pendant, however, a thieving pigeon, which he allowed inside the palace, steal said pendant, and so the young man embarks on a journey first to recover the pendant, but soon for a much larger purpose. This adventure plays and is presented through still screens on which the character moves using the left joystick. Control shifts between Robert and Laura, who joins him a little ways into the story, to vary things up a bit.

Screenshot for The Inner World on Nintendo Switch

Interactive elements of the backgrounds are selectable by pressing the L and R triggers to move between each, rather than moving around a cursor and clicking them to trigger an interaction like in a true point-and-click adventure. Other games of the genre on the system do implement a cursor despite not supporting mouse driven pointer controls, by offering joystick cursor movements, yet it is not the case here. Lack of at least touch controls in portable mode is quite baffling since it would work so much better than manually selecting interactive objects by pressing the L and R buttons but apparently this is something to look out for in the sequel, also already out on Switch. Why touch screen controls were not added back in the first game if they were added in the sequel, considering these were ported to Switch and not developed for it first-hand, is beyond reason. Since these were not new by any means anyway, touch screen controls could have been injected back into the original before release, instead of rushing them out of the gate.

In terms of presentation, every screen presents a colourful and highly stylised world that echoes that of the Layton titles and other similarly hand-drawn universes. Non-playable characters don't move much at all beyond their own speech or the odd movement they make in the middle of a conversation, but they are otherwise animated well enough, at least outside of cut-scenes. For such a beautifully designed world, the cut-scenes are rather choppy as characters are seen moving around and display a slight amount of compression artefacts, indicating that they are pre-rendered videos instead of being rendered using the actual game engine running on the system, despite using the same art style.

Screenshot for The Inner World on Nintendo Switch

Other than that, it is truly beautiful to look at and listen to. The soundtrack is really excellent and complements the magical universe really well. Character voices are also rather nice to listen to, although they can feel pretty slow, depending on the character. Robert, for example, has a touchingly cute timid voice that sometimes could be likened to someone whispering out every sentence, but he can talk very slowly at times. The original German voice acting isn't quite as slow; it's really something to do with the English one, although this is really nit-picking. Then, sometimes, certain scenes can go awkwardly silent for no apparent reason, like if the game failed to loop after sitting on the same screen for too long. This can make some scenes more soporific than they needed to be when Robert speaks and there's no other sound in the background at all. It is a small thing to say, but it does stand out especially since the writing of the dialogue itself is excellent and the story truly captivating and when the soundtrack is being played, the atmosphere is also excellent.

Speaking of the action of talking to those non-playable characters, it is easy enough to carry out but there is one noteworthy problem with it. Walking up to one such character and engaging conversation brings up a menu at the bottom of the screen with different icons representing topics. Typically asking about one certain topic may open up the conversation on other important topics, moving the plot along or helping solve a puzzle, yet, in more than one instance, achieving this requires selecting multiple times the same topic to hear absolutely everything on it. Unless the player has checked the "how to play" section, they won't know that if a topic is not greyed out, that character has more to say on that topic.

Screenshot for The Inner World on Nintendo Switch

On top of that, it is not terribly visible either when something is greyed out, since it is the background of the icon that greys outs and not the icon itself and when the icon is already highlighted, it's impossible to tell. Therefore, even though the "how to play" section does say so, many players will likely go in expecting things to play like other similar games and won't notice this, so it is a bit of a funny implementation just for the sake of being different. This topic selection menu, though, does make things neat and clean and avoids cluttering the screen with fully written questions that would hide the beautiful scenery behind it as seen normally in such titles, so there's at least that advantage to how things were handled here.

Overall, The Inner World doesn't feel like a too complicated experience, overall. It does implement a hint system accessible by pressing the ZL button but while playing for this review, the moments where it felt necessary could be counted on one hand, at most. There are way more obtuse adventures out there that require some heavy thinking and random guesses but, here, Robert and Laura's reactions to things usually are hinting at what must be done to progress. The whole story is divided in small segments, even within a single chapter, where additional areas are locked off so that the amount of experimenting possible is reduced enough that there never seems to be an infinite combination of things to try out. The cute universe and nonsensical humour make it a game that could easily be pictured being enjoyed by a family with parents and their little child together, since writing does try to cater to all ages. It's just a shame that it does feel a bit clunky in how it controls. Short of getting touch screen controls for portable play, this should have at least received the same pointer controls seen on the PC, even if it meant using the Joy-Con sticks to do so as seen in Thimbleweed Park or The Journey Down and not implementing actual motion sensed pointer controls as seen in the likes of Okami HD. Joystick pointing would have felt more intuitive than what is used here.

Screenshot for The Inner World on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Inner World sports a highly realised fantasy world carried by a charming art style and well animated character sprites, although, unfortunately, the quality of the animation does not fully extend to its cut-scenes. It is otherwise sizeable for its price and a more than competent point-and-click adventure that just feels slightly sluggish because of how slow the dialogue plays out and also confusing at times due to how the actual gameplay mechanics are implemented. It is, however, not overly difficult, so the combination of the magical story, dialogue fit for all audiences, and easily approachable puzzles, make it a good entry point for younger audiences, perhaps under a parent's supervision to help out, while still being more than entertaining for older fans of this type of game.

Developer

Studio Fizbin

Publisher

Headup

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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