No, it’s not a game based on the 1987 Dennis Quaid movie…
PolyKnight Games are a fairly new studio. Whilst they have created a number of games in the past (including the incredibly titled Scarecrow Fire Hoedown), they are all game jam titles or ones created as students. Innerspace is their first “proper” game release coming to console and PC thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Having spent some time playing around in the first couple of environments on the Switch version, I can safely say that there’s a very unique experience here.
The game is exploration based, with you (as the Cartographer) flying around the inside-out planets of the Inverse, discovering relics of a long lost civilisation as you try to piece together what happened and if there is a way to leave. You fly your aircraft around somewhat mind-bending worlds (have you ever thought what Earth would be like if it were inside out?!) which are filled with structures that tell of a lost race. Interacting with these structures will give you access to more areas in which you can find more relics that further the story and your understanding of the world. The game plays out very much like a air-based (and sometimes sea-based) puzzle game as you open up and explore more and more complex caverns. You often need to interact with the structures (and sometimes the creatures within) to progress further.
Exploring the environments feels very relaxing, as you dive around the Inverse, slipping in and out of different caves. I often found myself simply wanting to fly around the world to see what I could find when suddenly the Joy-Cons would vibrate, reminding me that I’m actually supposed to be looking for something. There’s a great, fleshed out world to explore here, with a concealed history to uncover, if you want. I encountered what might be described a boss fight, in which I had to repeatedly charge at a giant fish like creature. There wasn’t any real danger, in fact, I think I could have just flown off and come back to it later. I like how the world has a chilled-out approach to advancement; everything can be done at your own pace and it makes it clear that this could be a great stress relieving game.
The visual style stands out as somewhat unique. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it reminded me of whilst I was playing, but it felt somewhat like Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, but with a more muted colour palette. There are some really nice visual effects, and you can see a great deal of attention has been paid to how the world(s) tie together. The design of your aircraft combined with how it moved within the world reminded me of Rez, but the game plays nothing like it. It seems as though PolyKnight are trying to do their own thing with the visuals, which is nice to see. The sound is also interesting, with very relaxed tones playing as you explore. The movement of your aircraft ties into this, with a roll accompanied by notes on a piano and changes in acceleration having their own unique sound effects. Different sounds play when you approach a relic or a relic fragment. You may not be able to reach it from where you are, but it’s nice to know when you’re in the right sort of area.
Speaking of movement, control is very similar to that of the spacecraft sections in the recent Battlefront games, with the left stick controlling pitch and yaw and the right stick dealing with speed and roll. The triggers allow you to drift (allowing for tight turns and a speed boost) and dive into the water once you have the ability to do so. The air and underwater controls are the same, but they feel different in practice due to the different physics. It feels good diving in and out of caverns, structures, and (especially) the water.
Innerspace is due for release 16th January on pretty much every current gen platform. We’ll be sure to have a review ready for it’s release, so watch this (inner)space!