The Inner World

Posted by Mervyn Graham.
First posted on 03 December 2013. Last updated on 31 December 2013.
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The Inner World
Robert serves as an apprentice to Conroy.
The Inner World
Conroy has Laura arrested.
The Inner World
Laura helps out some troubled aerologists.
The Inner World
Robert tricks a guard into arresting himself.
The Inner World

The Inner World Collector's Edition

The Collector's Edition (unlike the Special Edition that is released only in German) includes, in addition to a retail DVD and DRM (Digital Rights Management) free version of the game, an exclusive art card and sticker featuring the game as well as a digital soundtrack of the game.

Incredulously, the concept for The Inner World started out in 2010 as a student project by the cofounders of Studio Fizbin when they were still studying at the Filmakademie Baden-Wüerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany. After they graduated, they cofounded the company in 2011 to continue development of their project as a game. The game was also notable for being partly funded by the prestigious MFG Baden-Württemberg, until its completion in 2013 when it was finally released commercially.

The Inner World is the debut release from the German indie developer. It is a third-person point-and-click adventure game. In the game, you take on the protagonist role of Robert (and also Laura later). Robert is an innocent but affable lad who is raised by an abbot as an apprentice at a very young age following the death of his parents. Robert's naïve demeanor is in stark contrast to the cynical attitude of Laura, an outlaw with a bounty on her head whom Robert meets early in the game. Unlike Robert, Laura is a mysterious, brash, and impetuous gal with a short temper and a mind of her own. Although diametrically opposite in all ways, Robert and Laura quickly realize that they need each other to fulfill a common destiny—to save their own world of Asposia from dying.

Asposia is a strange planet entirely made up of only soil. The inhabitants of Asposia live deep inside a vast hollow spherical world where air is provided via a trio of holy wind fountains. These wind fountains are manned by the abbots Conroy, Pandur, and Maleus. The native Asposians are unique creatures with long striped noses. However, with Robert, his nose is not striped but instead holed, which he learns to play like a flute to humor Conroy at the palace as the court musician.

Installation of the game is simple and glitch free. From the Main Menu, you can select Play, Settings, Credits, or Quit. The game supports both German (original) and English (localized) languages. Selecting Play resumes the game from the last manual or auto save. Customized settings are available to adjust Audio and to enable Fullscreen mode and Subtitles. Selecting Quit automatically saves your progress. The game supports only a single save slot but has provisions to support up to 3 players.

The game begins with a cinematic cut scene introducing the world of Asposia. It tells of the progressive decline of Asposia and the grave predicament that the Asposians are facing. For reasons unknown to the Asposians, the wind fountains that power their world are slowly dying. Without the wind, the light goes out, and without the light, the warmth goes away. This, in turn, brings along the dreaded wind gods called the Basylians, petrifying the Asposians with their gaze. Over time, Conroy stands to guard the only remaining operable wind fountain in Asposia. Conroy preaches austerity and obedience, believing that someday the Basylians will be appeased by the reformed Asposians and the wind will return to save their world.

Living inside the palace with Conroy is Robert. When a pigeon flies into the palace through an open window and swallows a fosfos (a pendant) belonging to Conroy before escaping down a garbage chute, Robert is quick to give chase after the pigeon to try to recover the fosfos. Instead, Robert finds himself lost in a garbage dump below the palace. There, he meets Laura, with whom he develops an unlikely friendship. As Robert wanders around in Asposia, he begins to learn about the truth behind the wind's disappearance and the secret that can restore the wind fountains.

In many ways, The Inner World is like a cross between a classic Brothers Grimm fairytale and an animated Walt Disney cartoon. It is also a story of good versus evil, with Robert and Laura as the respective hero and heroine. The game plays out over 5 chapters, during which where you will explore the town of Asposia and meet some of the locals in order to glean clues to further your quest. The world of Asposia is full of strange creatures and odd characters, such as those from the Root Forest where Robert and Laura will venture into later in the game.

While the game's characters look cartoonish and speak with childish voices, The Inner World is not really a game aimed for a younger audience. This is because, behind the cartoon façade, much of the game's dialog is written with wits that only a more mature audience can fully appreciate. Not infrequently, the jokes include subtle innuendos and double-entendres. The some 28 characters that you will meet are colorful and excellently presented. These include a poisonous strange creature called a gorf to a schizophrenic receptionist named Steve who argues with himself. One of the characters even voices a perfect imitation of Eric Idle from the Monty Python's Flying Circus!

The hand-drawn 2D graphics is refreshing and gives the game a lot of atmosphere. Much credit must be given to the artists for creating the game's unique art style. The game is quite dialog heavy. Fortunately, the English voicing of all of the characters is excellent and a pleasure to listen. Ambient music plays lightly throughout the game. The music is never overbearing and complements well the mood of each scene. Sound effects are also well done.

The puzzles in The Inner World are not contrived and make sense within the context of the game's story. The majority of the puzzles are inventory based. As expected, you will need to wander from location to location to find certain objects or to glean clues from various characters. Some examples of the game's puzzles include operating a mechanical play and constructing a new wind map for some aerologists. The game features a robust built-in hint system. The hints are structured and can be revealed in a stepwise fashion. This avoids spoiling the whole puzzle for players who only want a gentle nudge toward the solution.

In sum, The Inner World is an exceptional game and a showcase of Studio Fizbin's talent as an adventure game developer. The game takes about 15-20 hours to complete. While the game tells of a cartoonish fairytale story, the game's mature themes and witty writings are best appreciated by more mature gamers. Studio Fizbin has set the bar high with its debut release. I unashamedly recommend this game to all adventure game fans.

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