This INMOST review comes courtesy of an uninterrupted Friday morning of intensive gameplay. Approximately 3 hours worth of play, how does this psychological platform puzzler fare?
A majestical journey that covers loss and mental health, INMOST plays out much like Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King. I like that film, so just want an excuse to reference it, but it’s not a comparison that is too ‘out there’.
In INMOST, from Hidden Layer Games and Chucklefish Games, you play three different characters: a middle-aged bearded chap for the bulk of it, a knight (not so vulgar), and a lil’ girl trapped in her ‘own’ home.
The game starts with a narrative about pain and flowers and how they’re interlinked, and to complement this tale of woe, you play the beard as he runs, rolls and jumps across platforms avoiding black ooze and collecting light sources.
For the majority of your playtime it will be with this character, solving a handful of puzzles and platform elements that aren’t taxing, nor are they child’s play. You can pick up a few tools here and there that unlock new shortcuts to the nightmare world you occupy, but you don’t have any attacks or health; fall a little bit too far or get charged by a shadow rhino and it’s instant death.
Fortunately, respawning is commonplace, and enemies you’ve already defeated by outwitting them with traps, or collectables earned will remain in place if you weren’t able to grab them at the time.
Checkpoints are reasonable enough, but even when you die you don’t necessarily have to go back very far to redo a section, and I don’t recall any moments of frustration or unforgiving controls where I shed a tear.
The playing areas are of adequate size, but the longevity comes from backtracking and opening shortcuts or unlocking new tools like a knife to cut rope or a Batman-like grappling device to climb vertical rope sections.
There was never a moment when I got bored. A lot of the time I’d pause for a bit to admire the visuals – they’re low-res pixels, but the detail is excellent, the bleak colours marvellous and the layered backgrounds were tremendous.
However, to jumble up the story a bit you switch to the knight – another Batman reference as he uses a grappling hook to dash across the screen or to reach a higher level. Everyone knows knights can’t jump (except for Jump King and Sir Woody Harrelson).
This dude slashes through the black ooze-like shadows that occupy INMOST with a sword and can take a hit or two; the screen flashes red for a bit while you shift to safety for a quick recharge. The caveat being he can’t jump, so he’s a rush-type character that pummels through the enemies but still integral to the story.
Three is the magic number, the third character being the girl.
Three Is The Magic Number
Playing as the little girl in INMOST was perhaps the least appealing segment of the game, and also the most realistic. A bleak Calvin and Hobbes, she has a stuffed toy she likes to play hide and seek with, much like Edna and Harvey: The Breakout, the conversation is exclusive to them.
Like the title above, the narrative takes a further darker turn and becomes less like the fantasy portrayed through platforming and slashing (swords not urinating) and much hard-hitting as a darker, authentic past is revealed.
This section is arguably the most powerful in the game, but the gameplay section was the weakest. As a small child, she can neither jump nor wield a sword and is locked in a house with quite possibly the largest attic in gaming history.
To navigate the grown-up areas of kitchen shelves and reach rooms through air ducts, she makes use of moving chairs to climb upon. In one moment I moved a chair to mount a table but once on top, she couldn’t climb back down. No matter what I did, she would/could not leave the table, and I had to exit and restart the stage. Not as game-breaking as it sounds, but equally a bit of a chore to get through.
Nearing completion, the game shifts back to a voiceover and the game starts to conclude the story, spelling a few things out. This could easily be abused for some preachy, corny dialogue, but I found it quite hard-hitting.
There was a He-Man-like moral woven into the cautionary tale that is life, but I found myself watching the credits then running upstairs to tell my wife what a great conclusion it was.
While not 100% closure as the game still leaves some questions unanswered, I find these scenarios to be the most profound that last with me much longer than say 50+ hours of a triple-A action title or a much-hyped franchise. Even now, when I write this INMOST review, feel like jumping back in again for the experience.
Forget about any in-game achievements or multiple endings to unlock – it’s the same experience, but I’d happily dive into play again. The incentive here being the story and glorious, if slightly melancholy journey. There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the game to give a heads up on the content.
Honestly, I skipped this without knowing the first time around but didn’t have a moment where I felt INMOST was shocking or disturbing. That’s not to say it isn’t – some of the themes covered are incredibly poignant. Still, I thought that the scenes were executed with care and precision that didn’t overpower the overall feel of the game, nor cheapen the genuine issues it uncovers.
Yes, this vagueness is intentional. I’m sure you can give up a few hours of your time to experience INMOST. It’s a platform puzzler at heart, and I found it to be pretty easy. The controls were tight, except for some of the knight sections where turning to face another enemy was a bit sluggish. Visually, it’s beautiful, and the soundtrack aptly muted to reflect the content.