DFTG Reviews Inner Voices – “A Breath of Fresh Air in the Day and Age of Jump Scares”
In true Lovecraftian fashion, Inner Voices mixes psychological horror, puzzles, and the general feeling of having no idea what is going on rather well. At times, it feels that all hope is lost, but that is when the game truly flourishes. It is this fear of the unknown that draws the player in, and it is the prospect of discovering the truth that keeps one going. Developed by Sigma Games and published by Fat Dog Games, Inner Voices appears to be primarily an adventure puzzler with horror/thriller elements sprinkled in, but I am here to tell you that it has more to offer.
With a non-linear plot, procedurally generated paths, and an atmosphere that does the horror genre justice, Inner Voices is a breath of fresh air in the day and age of jump-scares.”
Your name is John Blake. At least, that is what you are lead to believe your name is. Blake suffers from amnesia and is unable to recall even the most basic information about his past. With the help of an entity named David, players must find their way through broken memories in order to discover exactly what is going on and what has happened in order to bring John to this place. Unfortunately, David can be extremely vague and doesn’t provide the assistance one so desperately needs, but that isn’t to say that he is not helpful. With a non-linear plot, procedurally generated paths, and an atmosphere that does the horror genre justice, Inner Voices is a breath of fresh air in this day and age of jump scares.
Players will notice that upon clicking “New Game”, the menu disappears and the game is set before them. How long has John truly been here? It is at this point that one should become acclimated with controls: Move, jump, crouch, pick up/drop, and use. A passive protagonist with no way of defending himself? No guns? No fists to throw punches nor legs to kick with? Sounds interesting enough. Through the basic maze that is a dilapidated building and it’s on to the game’s first puzzle. This is where a being that later identifies as David is introduced. He acts as if he is not of the same world as John, and by the looks of him, he is not. An entity consisting only of a mask and robe-like cloth, David explains what needs to be done, but he certainly knows how to beat around the bush. It is shortly after this encounter that the complexity and vastness of the maze ahead becomes quite apparent.
After realizing the scale of the maze, players might discover one of the best features the title has to offer: A procedurally generated path. There is no doubt that those who play will find this out while trying to return to an area they’ve just come from, only to walk through the same door and be taken aback by the fact the room has now changed. What is this madness? Why can’t it just be simple? Well, because that wouldn’t be any fun. Besides, it is now time to get down to business and find out why Blake is in this place. The puzzles seem to increase in difficulty as the game progresses, which is to be expected. Let’s just say the first one involved putting a clock on the wall, while one of the more challenging puzzles entails assembling an assault rifle after finding its components throughout a rather difficult labyrinth. Inner Voices takes about two hours to complete, and it is throughout this time of gameplay that “What in the world is even going on?” will be repeated often by the player. However, it will be in the best way possible.
To some, there is only one way to play horror/thriller games, and that is while wearing headphones in a dark room. Immersion is key when it comes to creating the ambiance that is desired while wanting to get scared, and the atmosphere of Inner Voices allows players to do just that. With flickering lights, things that go bump in the night, a haunting soundtrack, and just all around fantastic audio, this game was able to make the hair on the back of my neck stick straight out, which no title has ever achieved before. The transition from one room to the next, seemingly transporting the player to different realms, was another aspect that was very pleasing. It is more than capable of keeping one on edge throughout the game, and it only intensifies the immersion. For those who have a love for atmosphere, Sigma Games nails it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Another thing to make note of is the way in which the protagonist “dies”. Instead of a screen popping up that tells you “Game Over”, you are transported to an Escape Room. It is here that you must find a key to unlock the door that leads you to where you left off. I had only discovered this during my second playthrough after having fallen off a floating chair. Yes, there are floating objects that create walkways, and that is also an incredibly cool feature. While the Escape Room/save point aspect is relatively small, it is completely deserving of a huge thumbs up.
If there is one thing that contributes to the immersion one experiences, it is the voices that portray the roles in a title. They bring video game characters and the games themselves to life in ways that the graphics and atmosphere can only dream of. Unfortunately, the voice acting in Inner Voices fell a little flat at times. Often, it felt as if lines were just being read as opposed to acted out with emotion. It was mostly during times of dialogue that I found myself transported back to the reality in which I live. While this isn’t a total deal-breaker, it can lead down a road that interferes with one’s experience.
The graphics can also play a part in this. While overall hauntingly beautiful, the visuals were sometimes hindered by bugs or choppiness in the gameplay. Objects not laying down where one has set them and minor glitches in animations, while they did not occur often, were still able to break the immersion that was set by the atmosphere. This isn’t the worst thing that could happen while playing a video game, but it certainly does affect the overall experience.
Bottom Line →
While it can be a short playthrough, Inner Voices doesn’t disappoint when it comes to chills. Its incredible atmosphere, conjuring of fear of the unknown, and non-linear plot all play a role in how great this game has turned out. Speaking of turning out, there are five possible endings that players can happen upon, each of which depends on exactly how you go about playing the game. Due to the procedurally generated path, one playthrough might be vastly different from another, which will certainly make gamers want to keep playing it. Even though there might be a few bumps along the way that can take a player out of the experience, it isn’t difficult to dive right back into the horrifyingly immersive tale of John Blake.
Eric Garrett1093 Posts
Eric is an editor and writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. When he is not staring at a computer screen filled with text, he is usually staring at a computer screen filled with controllable animations. Today's youth call this gaming. He also likes to shoot things. With a camera, of course.