The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk (Switch) Review
Release Date: August 3, 2018 (originally published October 2017)
Publisher/Developer: Headup Games/Studio Fizbin
Platform: Switch (Reviewed), available on PS4/Xbox One/Steam/Mobile
Price: $14.99 (Switch), available on PS4/X1 for $29.99, Steam for $24.99, and as a mobile app for $4.99
The original Inner World released back in 2013, with this sequel coming out in 2017. Now, the two games are individually available for the Nintendo Switch, having released in early August. While I reviewed the original, linked here, the sequel has it's own merits worth reviewing. Both titles were given to me for review on the same day and were released for the Switch the same day, but there are notable tweaks that justified the second article.
The Inner World series is a traditional point and click style adventure in a world backwards from ours, with a tiny world inside a vast expanse of earth. In the first game, we found that the winds the people thrived on had died down due to the selfish actions of a single person, and our hero Robert being the long lost heir to the throne. Everything ended happily, but we learn quickly in the sequel that Robert wasn't quite ready to lead, and his cold feet allowed a throng of followers of our original villain to manipulate the truth and oppress our hero and his heritage once again. Things are rather bleak again, and once our hero learns of this he is off again to see what he can do to help.
In terms of gameplay, you'll find the same general patterns as the first, with extremely obtuse solutions to simple problems set in a world where you may not 100% understand the logic. The helpful hint system still exists and goads you toward the goal, though the most satisfaction comes from figuring it out on your own. My recommendation for game #2 goes higher thanks to the interface update. Docked the game plays identically, but The Last Wind Monk adds touchscreen controls. On the first game, my big complaint was how interacting with things was very complicated. You had to position your character, activate the possible links, and scroll through each item (which didn't feel like they were in any order whatsoever) until you hit the one you wanted to use, click it, then select the action you wanted to do. While this is identical on-screen, undocked you can at least poke and prod more like the "point" part of point-and-click. You can't mix the two, though. At times my natural progression might be to poke at something, see the options, and then click a button, but that is not to be. I wish that this was allowed, but I wish more that the first game, prepared and released day and date with this one, would have the interactive touchscreen of this one.
Everything is bigger and better in The Last Wind Monk. The years between allow for cleaner and more fluid artwork in the sequel, and more steps to a successful outcome. I feel that I hit more walls in this one, feeling like you finally open a door to find a grate behind it you have to work through just to get to your destination. You need to get to a location, you have to use a tram. Tram's broken. You have to have a ticket. Ticket needs to be edited. You have to fix it. Once fixed, you have to get in the locked door. Once there, you have to fix four more problems before it even moves. There always seemed to be one more step than I'd expect there to be, adding to the overall futility and frustration (which in a game like this can be wonderful if you are a fan of the genre, and mind numbingly irritating if you aren't). Twice the insanity is aided by twice the protagonists, as a click in of the left analog stick swaps to a second character with different ways to access areas. If Robert can't get through a locked door, his pigeon friend Peck may fly in a window and figure out how to open it from the other side.
The first Inner World is a modern point-and-click masterpiece, and the fluidity of touchscreen controls and updated animation make this one even better. It's not without it's oddities, such as how it seems to randomly go between subtitles and speech bubbles. I also feel that the loading times are a bit longer, which can be extra frustrating when you need to get into an area just to walk across a quarter of it to leave it again. The humor in both titles is worth the price of admission, and if you're going to play both, definitely play the first one prior, as the sequel basically lays the entire story of the first out in the first five minutes.
One bonus here is the value inherent in the Switch edition. Buying both titles here runs $27, whilst buying the newest alone on another system runs $29.99, and $45 for the set. The cheapest way to play both games is mobile, but the Switch is the most affordable way to play the series.
-Just as fun and funny as the first
-Touchscreen controls make it easier to interact with the universe
-Very obtuse problem solving with a deep hint structure if you get stuck
-Very obtuse problem solving may get frustrating, along with the "one more puzzle" attitude to get to the simplest victories
-Longer loading times than the original
Special thanks to Headup Games and Studio Fizbin for providing a download code for The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk (and it's prequel!)