I caught a brief glimpse of INMOST during the Indie World Showcase, it’s gloomy but atmospheric visuals an immediate eye-catcher. What initially appeared to be nothing more than a moody, pixelated platformer-esque adventure wound up delivering something quite far removed from anything I’d even come close to expecting. While you might call this a platformer or even a Metroidvania-like experience, those aren’t the things you’ll likely remember this game for.
In INMOST, you find yourself playing as three different characters, with each of their journeys playing very differently to one another. The young girl, for example, takes place within a house with her abilities very limited (as you’d expect playing as a child after all). You’ll spend a lot of your time slowly shuffling around, searching for items and pushing objects around in order to climb to higher places.
The second character, the knight, is the more combat-heavy of the three, using his sword to take on blob-like monsters and a hookshot to travel through a dilapidated castle. The last of the characters is just your typical average man who falls somewhere in the middle in terms of gameplay. Offering more manoeuvrability than the young girl but unable to actually attack enemies directly like the knight with his sword, it’s here you find the game’s best puzzle and level design.
You’ll jump back and forth between the trio of characters but spend more time with the average man. This actually works in the game’s favour since I found his moments to be the more engaging and challenging. If you’ve played games like Inside or Limbo then the gameplay here should feel familiar, as you venture through areas that require a little puzzle-solving in order to progress whether that’s moving around objects, picking up items or generally using the environment to get where you need to.
Enemies are a constant threat since they are essentially one-hit kills some even chasing you through the environment. Armed with only your brain, defeating enemies comes down to using the environment and luring them into traps. It’s a longer and more complicated way to go about it, but at the same time far more rewarding than simply swinging a sword. Between the evil monsters, the hazardous world itself and some element of trial and error, you’ll find yourself dying a fair amount. Fortunately, save points are pretty generous that I frustration only truly reared its ugly head when I found myself stumped on a puzzle as opposed to constantly dying.
That isn’t to say the young girl and knight’s sections are dull in any way. Rather, their gameplay didn’t reel me in as successfully as the man. The moments with the girl, for example, I found to be a little too slow-moving for my liking while the knight despite having the more action-oriented sections, felt a little simplistic, especially when it came to combat. While I never found myself dreading playing these characters, I definitely found myself more excited to return to the man.
INMOST weaves a rather tragic tale through its three playable characters taking on some heavy subject matter that by the time I’d reached its end credits left me awash with a range of thoughts and emotions. I want to tread carefully here as to reveal much (or really any) of the story would be to lessen its impact. All I’ll say is playing through this four-or-so hour adventure had me feeling everything from scared and anxious to shocked and upset, an impressive accomplishment from any game let alone one whose story is told in a simplistic pixelated fashion. Nearly a week later and I’m still running through the events of what happened in INMOST through my head.
From a visual and audio standpoint, INMOST excels. Sure, we’ve seen the pixelated look in video games many times over at this point, but none deliver quite such an unsettling and moody atmosphere quite like INMOST does. The level of detail in the environments and the emotion you feel from the characters themselves helps truly sell the emotional tale being told here. Just as haunting is the soundtrack accompanying your journey.
The story that INMOST sets out to tell is the sort that’ll stick in your mind long after you’ve reached its conclusion. As for actually playing the game, despite some dragged out moments, there’s a good mix of puzzle and platforming to be found here that coupled with some truly unsettling and atmospheric visuals create a hauntingly intriguing experience but one you better be prepared for.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Chucklefish