Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Studio Fizbin  

Publisher: Headup Games

Released:  September 2013

PC Requirements:   see review below

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough




by gremlin


What is it?
Studio Fizbin is a small German game development studio started by a group of students from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, close to Stuttgart in Southern Germany. Their studies led to a collaborative project which they've now released internationally as The Inner World.  Ooo, the things students get to do these days; t'were never like this back in my day. (Imagine the last bit in my native Yorkshire accent, if you can).
Of course, a new group of developers like this don't have much of a pedigree, so I can't bring up references to their previous work, but let's give them a go with their opening opus.

Is there a plot?

Imagine a universe that is solid; made of soil from here to eternity. Now inject into that one single, solitary bubble of open space. This is The Inner World of Asposia - your home for the next few days of storytelling. You will take the role of Robert, hapless, orphaned, court musician to the Abbot Conroy, one of the leaders of Asposia. Your fall from favour will be spectacular, as will your eventual rise to greater things. But that won't stop you from being a bit of a wuss in the mean time.

The problem is that the world of Asposia is supplied with air through just a few large air fountains, and they have begun to fail. At the same time, Asposia is being attacked by the Basilians - flying basilisks that can turn an Asposian to stone just by staring at them. They look a lot like Chinese dragons to me.

Our 'hero', Robert, has to travel through the civilised and uncivilised parts of Asposia, dealing with back street traders, deluded treasure hunters, dis-illusioned monks, exploitative mothers, convicted fashion designers, a tour guide suffering from a very nasty dose of split personality disorder, a rebel with tongue so sharp it's a wonder she hasn't cut herself, and a species of beast so poisonous it dare not meet another one of its own kind.

How do you play?

The Inner World is a point and click adventure game with hand drawn characters on similarly hand-drawn, colourful, multi-layered backgrounds. As is usual for adventure games of this type, most of the puzzles revolve around obtaining the key to the next door, or finding the right 'lever' to make someone to do something for you.

As I've mentioned, the locations are all pre-drawn cartoon places: the palace (where you begin), the town, the theatre, the swamp, the ruins, the factory. In fact it's surprising how much story you can tell with just twenty or so locations. Navigation is simple: if you click on a spot on the ground, Robert will walk there. There are hot-spots in all scenes, these show up as you mouse over them. If you click and hold the mouse anywhere on the screen that is not already a hot-spot, then all the available hot-spots in the current scene will show up. If you click and hold the mouse on a hot-spot, you'll get a small pop-up menu of possible actions: a speech bubble for talking to people, a hand for interacting with the spot, a cog icon for using the spot, a magnifying glass for examining the spot, and a door icon if the location is an exit. No hot-spot ever has more than two icons.

Your inventory will show up at the bottom of the screen - objects can be examined or used there too. You can drag objects from your inventory onto hot-spots to use them in the location, or onto one another to attempt to combine them. Some combined objects can also be separated again as well, so bear that in mind.

Other buttons around the screen are the menu button in the top right (a spanner), the hint system (a question mark) in the top left, and a musical instrument icon in the bottom right.

The spanner menu pauses and brings up the save and load options, settings and quit options; nothing confusing here. I'll come back to the hint system later. The only odd icon is the musical instrument one. I'll not go into any further detail on this because it would spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that there are one or two musical puzzles in the game - nothing difficult, and solvable by trial and error even with the sound off, but easier if you can hear what's going on. It seems that most game developers have learned from the mistakes made in earlier games like Schizm where subtle sound puzzles proved a major stumbling block to players.

The rest of the soundscape of The Inner World is a simple soundtrack of predominantly piano-like music, with a group of decent voice artists giving life to the strange range of Asposian people and creatures. For a game written in German and translated into English, there are very few clunky translations, and certainly not enough to affect the story-telling.

Notable Features

The principal feature of The Inner World that I've not seen in a while is the hint system. At every stage in the story, you have specific objectives and these are listed under the big question mark in the top left corner of your screen. If you click on the arrow button, you will receive graduated help. The help messages start quite general, but the more you query the system on a particular topic, the more specific the help becomes until it becomes explicit instructions. I've not seen a hint system as a carefully implemented since the old Universal Hints System.


Technically, The Inner World is rock-solid; I had no issues with the Steam version at all. Of course, being a Steam version, there are achievements, but unusually for an adventure game, the achievements include some for trying particularly wrong solutions to puzzles, and not just 'Complete Chapter 1', 'Complete Chapter 2', etc. though there are some of those too.

The Inner World is not a very long game; according to Steam I've completed it in about six hours, with some guidance from the help system. If you're determined not to use that, and get the achievement that comes with it, then it might take a little longer. It is this lack of length in the game that brings the final grade down from what is otherwise a good piece of storytelling for adventure gamers.

Grade: B

What do you need to play it?

Windows Requirements

  • 2.33GHz or higher x86-compatible processor, or Intel Atom
  • 1.6GHz or higher for netbook devices
  • Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate or Enterprise (also 64-Bit) with Service Pack 2, Windows 7 or Windows 8 Classic
  • 2GB RAM (4GB recommended)

Mac Requirements

  • Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz or higher
  • Mac OS X v10.6, v10.7, or v10.8
  • 2GB RAM (4GB recommended)

Versions for iOS are in the works, but not yet available at the time of writing.

(I used a home-built 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium (SP1) PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual 5200+ processor, with 6 GB RAM, and a Sapphire Radeon HD4670 512MB video card, with on-mother-board, built-in sound card).


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