Earlier this year, The Inner World made its jump from PC to Xbox One to great acclaim from the curious gamers who gave the zany characters and narrative a chance to impress. It was a jolly good point-and-click adventure and developers Studio Fizbin revealed plans to deliver a sequel to the tale. Now those plans have come to fruition, with The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk arriving on console. Is it bigger, better, and more worthy of the higher price tag it possesses? Or should the quirky world of Asposia be forgotten and laid to rest?
The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk picks up three years after the evil ruler, Abbot Conroy, was brought to justice and turned to stone at the hands of his adopted son Robert – or Ocarino Gustus III to give him his rightful birth name. The adventure begins with a new antagonist, Emil, looking to cause trouble for all the flute nosed residents of Asposia, demonising their existence and victimising Conroy. The unlikely heroes of clueless young Robert, his friend and thief by trade, Laura, and a bonkers pigeon named Peck, must regroup and figure out how to stop this shopkeeper turned dictator before all the flute noses are executed. Maybe the solution lies with the last remaining wind monk, if only someone knew where to find them…
The gameplay follows a similar pattern of that found in the original game, in which Robert can be moved around the various hand-drawn environments, whilst interacting with items by cycling through the nearby hot spots. That also means that the annoyances I found back then are still present in this sequel, where cycling through over and over again just wastes time. Nevertheless, the relaxed atmosphere surrounding what you’re asked to do ensures it’s an issue that’s only detrimental to your own patience, and doesn’t affect the quality of the adventure.
Just like in any other good point-and-click game, problem after problem comes the way of our heroes, and one must find solutions nearby; solutions which are usually obscure, requiring the ability to think outside the box, way beyond conventional ideas. Whether items need to be found, bargained for, or manufactured by combining things within your inventory, there’s always way to overcome obstacles. For example, to earn a prize to bribe someone with, you must first enable Robert to win a game of darts. Apparently, the best way to succeed is to gather together a sock, some thumbtacks and a tea infuser to dress up Peck as your very own homing dart. I’ve played The Inner World, so I’m come to expect such crazy ideas, but they may be a little bit ‘out there’ for most gamers. Saying that, the pure joy garnered from figuring it out with zero help is hugely rewarding to your ego.
So far, it’s more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing. One of the new features though is to take control of Peck, a pigeon that just wants to peck everything it comes into contact with. It’s a cool way to collect items from, and to place them in, hard to reach places, and switching between the characters at your disposal is a simple enough process. Is it a game-changer? Not really.
General puzzles aside, there’s a really nifty gameplay idea that play into Robert’s unique ability – playing the flute nose. Depending on the task at hand, different tunes need to be played and each of them has a purpose. These actions occasionally coincide with having to solve mini-games of sorts, where a mixture of techniques is necessary to achieve the objective at hand. One in particular saw me having to play various songs to set the correct layout on the facia of a totem to unlock a passageway. It’s good that the variety of the puzzles is far greater than in the first game.
There’s no doubt that all gamers will come unstuck at some point due to the difficulty of the puzzles presented, but the developers have integrated their multi-stage hint system once more. No one has to suffer and struggle, or have their progress halted indefinitely. All they have to do is take a look at the hints being offered and stop asking for more when they’ve reached a point at which they can carry on. It doesn’t just go ‘here’s the solution’ straightaway, it drip feeds clues your way and if you haven’t got it, you’ll eventually end up with the exact solution.
The story plays out over six chapters, each of which shouldn’t take the average gamer more than an hour to complete. In this time, venturing through mysterious Shovel Mountains, a tumble mouse factory, and even a prison, introduces you to a wonderful selection of interesting characters; each of which drives the narrative forward with a number of conversational options and holds clues to potential problems. In terms of personalities, Uncle Oboe and the depressed Bingo Pony are real highlights of The Last Wind Monk; with one treating a stint in prison as a holiday and the other moaning about their waning good looks holding them back. Prepare for a few lengthy back and forth sections of dialogue, usually filled with lines that’ll have you cracking up at times.
Visually, the hand-drawn locations are lovingly created; as are the unique character designs, which perfectly suit the voiceovers they are given. There are some lovely animated scenes too, with the only issue I have being the disappearance and reappearance of items transferring between characters – it’s not the end of the world though. Also, whilst the voices go hand in hand with the characters they belong to, there are times I question the lack of emotion in parts of the acting.
The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk doesn’t change the foundations its predecessor found success with. There are a vast amount of extremely creative problems to overcome and a story filled with laughs aplenty, but it’s nice to see a few little additional features being brought in. Studio Fizbin have ensured the gloomy looking world of Asposia and all of its wacky inhabitants are as charming as ever. Unfortunately, the counter-intuitive interaction controls haunt me again and combined with a lot of back-tracking through scenes for answers, the enjoyment levels never quite reach that of the original The Inner World. The solutions are also a tad too tricky to grasp as logic doesn’t always prevail.
I still find The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk to be an enjoyable point-and-click adventure, however the price is almost double that of its predecessor which doesn’t help matters. Is it twice as good? No, but if you were a fan of Robert’s first outing, then you’ll have a thoroughly good time here I’m sure.