Imagine you’re piloting an airplane that’s exploring the innards of a hollowed-out planet that you can see curving in the distance that is filled with ethereal objects.
Now, imagine that airplane can also turn into a submarine. That’s the premise behind InnerSpace, a video game from PolyKnight Games.
Though I was told by the developers on the PAX South floor that they plan on eventually adding something of a tutorial section to begin the game, my demo began in mid-flight. The controls are fairly easy to understand when starting — given an Xbox One controller, the camera’s controlled by one analog stick, and the actual steering is the other, with the ability to roll about wildly, and acceleration is controlled by the right trigger.
What’s somewhat odd when compared with other exploration games of this kind is that the plane has a “transform” button that turns it into a submarine of sorts. Given the inverted planets, you might wonder, “wait, so, what happens when you transform in the middle of the air?” Well, the answer seems to be that you plummet toward whatever is currently considered down — or, more specifically, “down” in the sense that the inverse gravity means “down” is the closest curvature.
While the controls (and even the sub transformation) are easy to understand, the inverted hollow planets take some time to get used to. It’s immensely disorienting at first to see the world curving ahead of you while trying to navigate through the remains of … whatever it is that used to populate the worlds. There’s a lot of stuff to run into in the meanwhile.
For example, the hub level had a massive crane of sorts that was nearby to another structure that had some glass windows of sorts. The windows, it turns out, were breakable, and ultimately sent my little plane tumbling into a much smaller enclosure that was exceedingly difficult to a) navigate within and b) find my way out of in the end.
Thankfully, there’s a way to drift (which I later found out, but didn’t immediately understand) that allows the little plane to slow down a bit and maneuver to better navigate without constantly accelerating and therefore, run into things. It also helps that the vessel’s health regenerates regularly, and dying simply places the player at the start of the same world.
Where InnerSpace really succeeds is in its almost pastel color palette and beautiful little animations — an ice world available to press on the floor had snowflakes that zoomed past in a way similar to the classic stars screen saver when boosting around. There’s also sound cues to various actions, giving the whole experience a very Flower feel to it. It’s certainly an aspect that the team is proud of, with several tracks available to listen to on SoundCloud.
InnerSpace is scheduled to release for PC, Mac and Linux this May, though the team is also working on figuring out whether it’s feasible to bring the exploration game to consoles.