Flying around exploring the landscape sounds like a tranquil experience, but add in relic’s and make that world inverted so instead of skies your surroundings are inside a hollow globe of water known as the inverse and InnerSpace starts to sound even more intriguing.
Taking the hands of the Cartographer, you fly an Airframe, which is like an odd mechanical plane. It’s a pretty simple affair, like many flying games you’ll find the two sticks cover most of your movement from throttle and yaw to pitching and barrel rolls, if you’ve flown a tie-fighter in Battlefront or plane in Crimson Skies you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what’s required.
Early on you’ll get a tutorial which puts you through the basics before you’re introduced to a guide known as the archaeologist who will give you clues on what to do next, cutting ropes with your wings, flying through weak walls to break a hole are early tactics to progress and find new areas and relics and discover history about the world around you.
Eventually you’ll find the relic to unlock Piano, your first new frame which will also allow you to dive, this then opens up the outer realms of your first starting globe and then passages into new areas in the search for more relics and the further reaches of the inverse, there’s a continuous tranquil feeling as the pace never picks up much beyond a relaxed glide, though forcing your throttle up will help cover distance a little quicker.
Everything moves along at a steady frame rate (on Xbox One X) but there where no One X specific enhancements. While 4K graphics might have been a nice touch, it’s a little hard to judge due to the peculiar art style. The world is scattered with rocks and tunnels and sometimes there’s some ugly clipping issues, but the water effects are decent enough, but time and time again I just felt it was a little underwhelming, the world is beautiful in an artistic way, but I never felt a new area really surprise me like I’d hoped.
Audio is a step up and the dynamic sound adjusts between the peaceful air and the rumbling tides fo the sea, there’s a reassuring ping when you collect an ord of energy (wind) or find a relic, and whether you’re having a chat with the archaeologist, finding out more about the world around you, it’s all presented in a relaxed but very mysterious way.
Sadly, your craft doesn’t quite carry that same significance as flying into a wall (something that will happen eventually, possibly often) just doesn’t feel dangerous at all, even flying directly into the angle of a corner, or intentionally flying across the ground, just pushes you back into the air or water and there’s never the slightest scratch.
While I was mostly impressed with the presentation of the game world, the deserted nature, sadly makes the sea feel quite plain, there’s no small schools of fish floating around and only a few bold bubbles of air and waving sea plants to serve as a visual clue that you’re underwater,.
InnerSpace is a relaxed and intriguing game which encourages you to take your time and enjoy your surroundings, mini puzzles such as finding the right passage or working out how to progress make the search rewarding enough, but sadly it never felt much fun, I wasn’t expecting all out action, but an element of danger such as ship health, or being chased would have pushed the fun factor up a notch.
Playing through, I’m sure I’ll continue to return to the Inverse, but more for showcasing the game than actually wanting to find out the ins and outs of every last corner of the inverse.