So...We all know comedy is tricky. But comedy from another culture is double tricky. Double plus mega tricky, even. And that puts me in a bit of a pickle with The Inner World.

It's not that the game is bad. It's certainly not that the game fails at what it sets out to do. It's a point and click adventure game, after all. About the only failure-to-execute that I can put on it is the interface, which isn't very suited to busy scenes, but we'll get to that.

It's...Well, okay, there are two things to address. But let's stick with the comedy thing first, yeah? The Inner World's from Studio Fizbin, a little company out of Germany, and it's definitely got the feel of European comedy. Were I to try and sum up the core comedic beat, I would say: "Everybody is terrible, and incompetent. Except the hero. He's just incompetent."

The very first puzzle in the game has our dimwittedly innocent hero, Robert...

  • managing to accidentally con a garbage dealer out of useful supplies,
  • making a net out of some string and a windsock,
  • getting a worm drunk on booze,
  • turning that worm into the sling of a slingshot,
  • and finally shooting down a pigeon's lunch with the slingshot,
  • to bring the bird into range of that net.

So, the big thing to deal with, is...Quite frankly, does that sound like a hilarious string of events, or (can I swear here?) fucking absurd? Because I have to admit I rolled my eyes at the worm-slingshot idea, to say nothing of the entire sequence with the garbage dealer(presented as a drug dealer might in a sleazy 1980s New York alleyway). Coat full of illicit goods and everything. But, comedy is a very personal thing, you know? So it's totally legit if you find Robert bumbling his way into a roundabout solution as a naive innocent man-child who knows nothing of the trials of the world and somehow finds solutions because of it, to be really funny. The beats are all there, it's solely a question of if you enjoy the resulting flavor.

And then there's the other side. The mechanics. You remember the whole joke about how adventure games died because of that cat-hair mustache puzzle, right? Now the specifics of that puzzle and its creation have, in more recent years, turned out to be more because of the difficulties of a sudden shift to 3D, new mechanics, new engine, and generally trying to build a way more expensive game without a lot more talent or money, so I'm not gonna hold that against creators of old.

But this is none of those things. This is an indie game passion project that's been out for several years on other platforms, and was built on a modest budget with tools well-suited to being able to make a game far more effectively and efficiently than the days of old. Oh, and it's 2D, to boot. That is to say, literally none of the troubles that led to the car-hair mustache apply. So when I see a puzzle that's nearing that level of roundabout solution, and it's the first puzzle of the game...

Well.

I, personally, get a little concerned.

Now that said, it has to be mentioned that at least on PS4, there's a big ol' hint command mapped to my L2 button. Those hints get increasingly more "just do this thing" until finally, the game is literally telling you how to solve the puzzle. So that's definitely another one of those personal taste things. Do you like the more straightforward, simple puzzles? Or do you prefer to work out the game's logic and get into the weeds, with the knowledge that you also have the hint system there if you ever get too stuck?

So that puts us in kind of an odd situation, now doesn't it. Really, if we're going to sum up the game, from where I stand...This is a game by hardcore adventure game fans, for hardcore adventure games. Oh, and the more you're into the comedy form of a bumbling, knownothing hero stumbling into things, the better.

And none of that is that much of a bad thing, really. Especially for a game that costs, as of this writing, all of $15 in the (US) Playstation Store. No, if there's a real genuine flaw, it's just...If you're interested, and you have any other platform to play this game on, I encourage you to do so. Because, I briefly mentioned that interface. Essentially, you use the L1 and R1 buttons to scroll between selecting the different interactable objects near your hero...And in a busy scene, especially with lots of witty things that exist purely for a quick one-liner, this gets real old real fast.

I should make it a point to mention that there are things the game just straight up does really well. Its art style has a bit of a low-fi, almost margin-doodle flare to it, and is really well executed. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's up there with, say, the best Lucasarts ever did on the art front, it's definitely a cut above a lot of the pack. The character beats are solid, and while the comedy isn't to my personal taste, it's not like it fails to be what it is, either. It's undeniably doing what it set out to do on the art and writing, and doing them well.

And that kind of puts us, in many ways, at that pickle we had at the start. It's simply become a bigger, more all-encompassing pickle. Perhaps some sort of atomic super-pickle, here to lay waste to our cities and enslave us to work in its cruel vinegar mines. ...I lost my train of thought. But, yes. At the end of the day, except for some difficulties with the interface mechanism of choice, there isn't a lot that The Inner World actually tries and fails to do. It doesn't fail to execute on a goal.

It just dives so far into the deep end of the genre's water, that I kind of feel it leaves a lot of the less intense fans behind. And given where we stand here, with a couple-year-old indie title recently ported to console, that puts me as the reviewer in a really weird position. Because...Well, to be honest? If all that sounds good to you, and you want to be in the deep end with this kind of game, there's a pretty good chance you already heard of and played this one. And if you've never heard of it, then there's at least some odds that it's going to leave you in the dust.

So it's not that I "can't recommend" this game, in the typically intended sense that you should stay away. But rather, I can't recommend it in a far more literal sense. I in fact cannot be the one who recommends this game to you. You need to look deep into your heart, and ask yourself, does what I have described sound like the game for you? Only one of us can find the answer to that one, and it's not me this time.