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2D puzzle platformers are a jam I’ve been into for a long time, along with discovering little-known indie games. Short and succinct always wins over long and dragged out, which is why I thought that The Inner Darkness was worth a shot.

Created by just one dev, The Inner Darkness is a short 2D pixel puzzle platformer. Firstly, let’s address the short part. It’s just an hour long, but I think this is alright. The story is about as long as it needed to be and the gameplay is solid. The price point is pretty low, so I would argue it’s good value for money.

So let’s delve into the main mechanic. Asides from your general running, jumping and pushing, the main mechanic here is the ability to shift dimensions for short periods of time. There will be boxes in one dimension, but not the other. Fans will blow up in one, and down in the other and so on. The game changes up this mechanic in various ways as the game develops so that you are never too comfortable with it.

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Creepy house section

Switching between dimensions in quick succession is what makes up the puzzle aspect and it’s done successfully. While there is nothing incredibly new here, the puzzles are fun and mixed up to a degree. Just as a mechanic gets tired a new one is introduced. They are on just the right side of challenging where they aren’t frustrating. The only exception would be the box pushing puzzles. These definitely out stay their welcome as some you have to push very gingerly into their correct positions. This would be my only criticism on gameplay which is generally well thought out and inventive.

The absolute strength of this game is the gorgeous pixel art which was made all by the developer himself. This is clearly his main talent, and The Inner Darkness is almost worth the price just to see how pretty some of the backgrounds are. The design overall is nice adding in new set pieces, mechanics and designs gradually before coming to the finale.

The music is nothing to get excited about but it does its job. It adds to the creepy, mysterious atmosphere well and helps build the game world. Working together the art and music do help ensure that feeling of unease as you work your way through this strange landscape.

There is one major downside to The Inner Darkness and that is the writing. The protagonist constantly underlines the game with his own inner monologue. It is beyond bland and places tutorials in places that could really speak for themselves. Some witty, mysterious or punchy writing could make this game a must-have. As it stands it takes you out of the world and makes you very aware that you are playing a game.

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The pleasant dimension

The story is short and basic. Everything aside from the writing works together to build a creepy atmosphere that drags you in. I normally just dip my toe into new games, but I sat down with The Inner Darkness for the first time and playing it from start to finish. It’s absorbing, which is pretty high praise for something so contained. The ending adds something new altogether and is a real payoff for completion.

Overall, The Inner Darkness is worth both your time and money. You won’t walk away having your life changed, but you will leave feeling satisfied with yourself. Not only for overcoming a couple of difficult puzzles, but also for having purchased a game with this much talent pushed into it.

The Inner Darkness was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.

7.0
 

Very Good

Summary

An amazing example of what just one dev can do. A solid 2D pixel puzzle platformer, and worth an hour of your time, even if the writing is a little difficult to bear.

Pros

  • Gorgeous Art
  • Creepy Atmosphere

Cons

  • Bland Tutorial-esque Writing

Georgina Young

Contributor

British girl, currently in Japan. Surviving on a diet of retro games. Worshiping the god that is the Sega Megadrive. I like Nintendo.


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