InnerSpace Review (Switch) – buckle up for something new

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InnerSpace is different. It tries something novel with physics in a video game that is almost certainly worth your time to experience, if only to try something new that you won’t see in other games. Experimental titles like this are a breath of fresh air among the typical industry offerings. As is often the case with bold games taking risks, the feedback is divisive. InnerSpace is a very “love it or hate it” sort of game. If any of what you are about to read is interesting to you, it is likely that you would enjoy InnerSpace.

First Impressions

Imagine that rather than living on the surface of an orb with gravity pulling you against the surface from the center, you live on the inside surface with the gravity pulling from the outside of the orb equally in all directions. Essentially, everything about a planet’s surface and gravity are inverted. You play a cartographer AI multi-terrain robot exploring these “constellations” of connected inverse gravity bubble worlds, the denizens of which had abandoned their home or are long extinct. It’s a fascinating scenario!

Graphics and Gameplay

This may remind you of the inverted sphere that makes up the intro to Game of Thrones, but in video game form. InnerSpace also brings to mind of Abzu or Journey, with a splash of Sony’s Gravity Rush. The handful of worlds are ephemeral and picturesque with a sense of pleasant isolation complimented by quiet, thoughtful music. The graphics are minimalist and fluid, and you can seamlessly transition from flying acrobatics to diving and propelling through bodies of water.

The bulk of InnerSpace’s gameplay is exploration and relic collection, with occasional puzzle-esque challenges to solve that open new paths. Following glowing trails of orbs through the hypnotic alien environments is zen and relaxing. Your main goal is to find and collect relics to bring back to your partner anthropologist AI. Doing so allows you learn more about the extinct alien culture you are researching and are sometimes able to procure upgrades to your airframe (the craft’s chassis and wings). There are multiple different airframes to unlock as you go progress, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Controls, Camera, and Movement

In what was likely an attempt make the controls more realistic, the developers actually over complicated the movement mechanics to the point of frustration. They are extremely hard to get used to and there are no tools provided to help orient the player in this brain bending reserve-gravity space. It should be noted that when I was able to stay oriented, which was about 70% of the time early on, the game played smoothly and artistically.

A 3D map of the sphere showing where you are in relation to a landmark or north-south axis would have been a big help. If the camera automatically rotated around the player based on where the “ground” is, that also would have made things easier. Even being able to adjust sensitivity and rebind some of the buttons would have helped with the control frustration, but those are not options on the Switch. If you get motion sick easily, I would steer clear of InnerSpace for these reasons.

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If you have ever read A Clockwork Orange, then you know what it is like to feel your brain actively learning and adapting to something foreign. You start out in InnerSpace feeling somewhat uncomfortable in the brand new environment, and it’s difficult to wrap your brain around this persisting, unfamiliar set of physics rules. Slowly you learn how to maneuver this new world and it feels easier, more natural. Soon you become a natural as you master your movement

Is InnerSpace worth a buy?

Currently InnerSpace is on sale for $4.99 on the eShop until May 1st, with its normal price being $20. I would not recommend InnerSpace at full price due to the poor controls– I would have been pretty annoyed with it had I not gotten it on sale. InnerSpace earns a 7/10 for me because the inverted gravity was just such an interesting thought experiment to play around with. At 75% percent off, InnerSpace is without a doubt worth a buy thanks to the unique sci-fi ideas it presents.

Thank you for reading!

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