"Inmost is an atmospheric, story-driven puzzle platformer, following three playable characters within one dark, interconnecting story. In an old abandoned castle, you’ll need to explore every nook and cranny, avoid detection, slice your way through enemies and spring deadly traps in order to escape the evil that lurks within…"
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This review contains spoilers
Inmost was not the game I was expecting it to be when I went into it, but that is not at all a bad thing. Based on the trailer I saw for the game going into it I expected another indie horror game with a pixel artstyle, what I got instead was a bleak, gripping story about recovering from loss and how events can be seen by different people involved in the process of it and how that evolves. This review is going to primarily talking about the story of this game, since it's the main part of the game that resonated with me, so if you have any interest in this game I would suggest you stop reading here and go play it instead since in my opinion this is a game you should experience the story of first hand. I would also like to mention that there is talk of pretty heavy themes within the game's story, and this review, so if you aren't in the best mindset it might be best to sit this one out. However before we get into talking about the story, I do want to go over the gameplay really quickly just because the context of it is needed to talk about the story.
The game has you constantly switching between three main characters, Elizabeth, Adam, and the Knight. Each character has a different gameplay style and it ties directly into the kind of story each character tells in your time as them. As Elizabeth you explore your house as you try to avoid your adopted parents. As such stuck to actions that only a child could really do such as climbing things and pulling them around to be able to climb up higher and reah new areas. Meanwhile Adam, an adult exploring a crumbling world, has his gameplay be more of a puzzle platformer where you have to avoid enemies and find ways to defeat them without directly fighting them while also trying to find a way to move ahead in the areas you've exploring. Finally, there's the Knight who is a nigh unstoppable walking weapon who just mercilessly cuts down as many enemies in front of him as he can on his quest to gather pain from other living beings to bring it to a mysterious being known as the keeper. Despite how different all of these sound both in terms of gameplay and storywise, they all do fit together well and work off each other in interesting ways.
That being said, the gameplay is never the most engaging. It all works well enough but it's not particularly good I feel on its own. The platforming for Adam is fine and is the most gameplay there is, Eliza's is almost a point and click adventure, and the Knight's is just mashing the attack button and using it to grapple to different platforms to get to more combat. The Knight's combat was definitely the least fun in my opinion but at the end of the day all three of the gameplay styles are serviceable, just not anything to really write home about.
From here I want to talk about each character's individual story before talking about how they all tie together to kind of try and emulate the way the game tells the stories, I'll be starting with Elizabeth's and then going down the list in the order I talked about them previously from here.
The story for Elizabeth's part of the game follows her as she adapts to her new home with her adopted parents. At first everything seems normal and she is just trying to play but her new mom seems to not even be able to look at her, which then turns into outright contempt and anger once Elizabeth finds a stuffed bunny toy hidden in the garage. Elizabeth turns this stuffed toy into an imaginary friend that she talks to and uses to think things through, which leads to Elizabeth spiraling into anxiety as the rabbit convinces her that her new parents are not as they seem. After her new mom has a breakdown where she screams at Elizabeth and leaves she and her new dad disappear all together, leaving Elizabeth alone in the house. She is convinced by the rabbit that her new parents had been kidnapping kids and she goes on a quest throughout the house to find out the truth, which ends with her finding a basement full of old children's toys that she had never seen before; that in her mind confirms her theory.
Elizabeth's story is very interesting to me because its main focus on how being brought to a new home can create some a lot of fear and anxiety in a child who doesn't know why they're there; on top of how those feelings can be expanded by an authority figure that isn't exactly happy that she's there in the first place. Seeing the anxiety grow and consume her in real time is really well written and accurate to how anxiety functions in real life, at least in my experience. Especially the way her anxiety transitions halfway through her story from worrying about the prospects of her fears being right to worrying about if she gets caught once she finally decides to take action and find out for herself. Anxiety isn't something that really goes away on its own in real life unfortunately, and seeing how it plays out in game was surprising and also really cool in that it felt like a very accurate and honest portrayal of it. Finding the toys isn't the end of the story however, as when she tries to escape the house after that discovery Elizabeth comes face to face with Adam.
During his sections of the game Adam is revealed to be a father who lost multiple people close to him. On a few occasions throughout his story it is mentioned a few times that three lives being lost lead him to where he is now. This is later revealed to be Adam's son, his daughter in law, and his granddaughter. Adam's granddaughter is revealed to have been lost when she committed suicide after never ending bullying from school, which sent her parents into a spiral that resulted in their deaths; which we will talk about more later. Adam's section is ultimately more gameplay than story for most of its time on screen, but that is mostly due to what Adam's roll in the story represents.
Adam's story is not actually happening. He isn't actually traversing this broken, decaying land in search of something like it's portrayed from the beginning of the game, rather it's Adam trying to navigate his way mentally through this very complex emotional situation he's in because of what's happened to his family. The desolate world he navigates essentially represents his emotional state as he tries to navigate the sudden loss of his remaining family and how its making him feel. This is further shown by how about halfway through Adam's sections he starts to be guided by a fox made of light, which up to this point is the first thing he has seen that differs from either the real people or the dark monsters that inhabit this world that Adam has found himself in. The Fox represents Adam's hope and desperation for an answer. He is following it as he grasps for answers and has to keep it alive against creatures a few times in order to basically keep his hope alive. The Fox leads him to a fountain that in turn turns Adam into a being of light like the fox, and he finds a flower of light there with another person of light. This flower will be touched on more in the Knight's section, but it is important here as Adam's section ends with him still being a person made of light that has been left alone with the flower. This ending for Adam is him coming to terms with what happened and what he has to do going forward. To get into how that is however, I will first have to talk about the Knight's story.
The Knight is an interesting character as he feels very different from both of the others in how he's presented and played throughout the game. For his part of the story the Knight is hunting down those with pain, which is represented in game as little glowing balls of light, and killing them in order to take the light back to the Keeper, who is a giant mysterious monster that demands his soldiers, such as the Knight, gather all the pain so he can consume it. A thing the game tries to emphasis is that people like the Knights who hurt others and take their pain cannot grow their own light flower like the one that Adam had at the end of his campaign, and due to that the Knight kills two light people and steals their flower. He then proceeds to give the flower pain repeatedly like he has been to the Keeper but the flower does not grow or bloom, and the game makes sure to remind us that this flower will never truly belong to the knight. The knight's story caries on like this where he continues collecting pain for the keeper but is slowly becoming more and more of a monster as the story goes on, becoming like the beings that he is destroying for the pain. After a moment where the Knight decides he no longer wants to serve the Keeper and is badly wounded he returns to the flower and instead of trying to force the pain he has onto the flower, he accepts the flower's pain instead. This allows the flower to truly bloom and grow, moments before the Knight is attacked once again by the Keeper. This entire story feels weirdly disconnected at first from the rest of the game, until you realize that the Knight isn't real.
The story of the Knight in Inmost is made up. It's narrated entirely by who we later learn is Elizabeth and it is a story based in her perceptions of how she thought her adoptive father was. This is why the story is so much more fantasy oriented than both Elizabeth and Adam's stories as well as why the Knight is the only one who feels like they fit in these strange fantasy environments, because like the environments the Knight himself is a fantasy. Too fully analyze this, we need to talk about how all three stories are woven together in the ending.
As I mentioned earlier Elizabeth became convinced that she had been kidnapped by her new parents, and she was actually right. Kind of. Her adopted parents were Adam's son and his daughter in law. This is revealed immediately after Elizabeth found the toy basement, and with it we learn that Adam's son after losing his daughter to suicide was out one night when he happend to find an appartment building that was burning down. Hearing a baby crying he ran into the building to help and found the baby alone with it's parents dead in the room. Adam's son saved the baby from the building and raised it as his own daughter in order to replace the one he lost. The moral questions this raises aside, Adam's wife was not happy about this at all. So Adam's son tried working harder and harder in order to get money to try and appease both his wife and new daughter with gifts. This is where the story of the Knight comes in. Elizabeth sees her new father as the knight, going around and taking from others and destroying their lives. The flower that he takes represents the connection between the two people who made it, that resulted in Elizabeth after he lost his daughter, his own flower. Which is why the game hammered in the idea that it would never truly be the Knight's flower so hard, because he was trying to recreate something that he had lost and had taken it from someone else in order to do it.
The Knight being killed by the Keeper also mirrors what happens to Adam's son in real life, that being killed by his wife. The person who wanted his pain as atonement for not being able to save their daughter and adopting a new one after she was gone. The wife then kills herself after her husband is gone in order to be with her daughter again, leaving Elizabeth alone. Which is where Adam reenters the picture. Upon hearing what happened to his son and daughter in law he tries to race to their house, and in doing so this is where his events of the game take place. Him navigating the broken and confusing world as he rushes to their home to find out if what he was told is true is where he tries to think through everything and creates the complex puzzles he has to work through during his sections of the game. Then, he meets Elizabeth.
When he gets there and sees Elizabeth for the first time is when he becomes the person made of light in his story. He is left alone with this flower that has been given to him, and he knows that he has to be the one to take care of it now that both the previous people with that flower are gone. Adam is accepting his responsibility and becoming the guardian of this flower that his son took because he wants to make things right. He is deciding to be there for her like he wasn't there for his son after his son lost their first daughter.
This game's story was a lot more impactful and just all around strong than I was expecting given what I thought the game was when I went into it, and I am thoroughly impressed with how they managed to tell this story. The fact that even the gameplay types each character has functions as a factor in how the stories are told feel incredibly well done, even if the gameplay at times isn't the most interesting. This game is truly something special in my opinion, and while it might not be the most engaging game gameplay wise, its something I recommend highly.
Upon watching initial trailers for Inmost, I was expecting a deep, atmospheric platformer with a rich world to explore. I did not really expect to be greeted with a level-based puzzle game. However, I did not let my false expectations sway me and gave this game a chance from start to finish. I appreciate the atmosphere of this game. The colour grading is perfect for this dystopian, fantasy story about pain and loss.
Unfortunately, this game is 100% atmosphere and 0% gameplay. The trailer did not do a very good job demonstrating what this game is. The game seems to be known as a puzzle platformer, but seems to be very confused over whether it wants to platform or puzzle. The result is an experience that feels like wading through glue for most of the levels. The controls almost feel delayed at times, and simple tasks like opening doors or climbing ledges take forever, which makes the game feel quite clunky overall. This might be warranted if the puzzles were clever enough, but these mostly consist of simple item collection tasks or using specific objects to trigger events.
The game is split into three types of levels where you play as a different character: the hero, the knight and the girl. There's quite an awkward shift between each of these as they all have different abilities. The Hero can roll and jump, but cannot fight. This would be okay, but some enemies move significantly faster than you can, making death feel inevitable in certain situations. The Knight can move left and right, roll and fight, but for whatever reason forgoes the ability to jump even a little. The Knight's stages are usually more about traversing long stretches, and feel less like a puzzle. So the inability to jump in these stages again, makes Inmost feel a little muddled over what it wants to be. The addition of combat, however, makes these Knight stages more fun than the other types, which is a shame as they don't appear very often. The girl's levels probably take second place, as they are clearly the most defined out of the three. They are puzzle levels and play like puzzle levels, though share the same slow movement as The Hero's levels. Fortunately, there are not any enemies in the girl's levels, so the lack of combat is not a problem.
Overall, the trailers showed a lot of potential, but the end product is a clumsy yet passable time if you can play through the issues. I'll give this game a little credit only for the art, animation, atmosphere and narration, but feel like the gameplay is on a much lower level. Probably not worth picking up at full price, but might be worth it on a sale.
This game provides an astonishing atmosphere and really hits your emotions.
Sadly, the performance on my Nintendo Switch was underwhelming and I had to deal with several performance issues and lags.
I would give 3 ½ stars, but the game looks too good to give it less than 4 stars.
One of the worst puzzle-platformers I've ever played. The puzzles are simplistic and more about fighting the awful controls than they are brainteasers, the story is wayyyyy too melodramatic and is pretty distasteful with the subject material. The one good thing the game has going for it, the atmospheric graphics, is ruined on the Switch due to rampant FPS slowdown, screen tearing, and just way too much bloom, resulting in my feeling seasick and queasy... in a side-scrolling platformer. Just an awful, regrettable experience.