The Inner Friend Review

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Posted May 6, 2020 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: PLAYMIND
Published by: PLAYMIND
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

The Inner Friend is a game that’s difficult for me to explain. As far as the story is concerned, it’s a deep dive into childhood memories turned nightmares. You begin the game inside of a dingy and dank bedroom. A naked(sans the genitals) figure thrashes about on the bed, it’s face replaced with a glowing crater and the game nudges you into taking a step into the person’s mind. Upon doing so you’re transported into a brightly lit(and cleaner) version of the bedroom and you’ve assumed the form of a fragmented mannequin like figure the size of a child. The bedroom is empty aside from a few things and the only path forward is a large crack in the wall that leads you to a bizarre free fall and it’s up to you to land on one of the many floating platforms that may lead you toward one of the games mysterious puzzles.

From there on, I struggled to really find the meaning in the Inner Friends’ narrative. One thing that was absolutely clear is that it is based around childhood fears and how they can be twisted into something nightmarish. For instance, the first level was a dilapidated school building while another was a salon. Both levels were dark, twisted horror shows where a demonic hairstylist actually gives chase after the player. Childhood fear and it’s effects on the subconscious is about all I could discern from the story, which is disappointing because that concept kept urging me forward in search of answers. As you complete these unnerving levels, the white room slowly changes over time and players are offered glimpses of an adolescent boy. However, by the end of the game, all of it’s symbolism still felt jumbled and didn’t try to come together in a cohesive way. It also just straight up ends on abrupt note without answering ninety percent of the questions you’re going to have.

The gameplay is very simple. There’s probably three buttons you actually use if you don’t count the whichever device is controlling the camera or moving your character. When starting a level, you simply leave via the crack found in the wall where you travel upward into the mind and descend into the unnerving madness. Your objective is to survive and get to the end of each level. Some levels may feature puzzles or just some form of surviving something within them. Upon completing most of the levels, you return to the white room which acts as the hub area. It slowly changes as you progress and you can fill it with all of the collectibles you find throughout the game. My biggest issue with the game is clunky movement of your character. I often found myself getting into sticky situations because my character wasn’t facing a certain direction and had to move in such a way I ate a laser beam or got stuck on the environment.

The Inner Friend does a good job at taking us on a journey through it’s nightmarish worlds. The high school was a twisted place and at one point I legitimately got scared and the hair salon did a good job at delivering a very creepy atmosphere. There’s also some really cool symbolism in the game like the way you’ll dive into the subconscious mind when entering a new level. I wanted to talk about the scenic variety of the game when I got to the second level, which was a huge departure from the high school but unfortunately, it was the only level of it’s kind. It was bright and clean. The exact opposite of the school yet still found a way to keep me on edge. However, after completing it the game just went back to being dark and dingy.

Playmind actually has managed to create an interesting game. I probably finished the game in 2 hours or less but otherwise, it’s an interesting approach involving the inner workings of the mind and has a rather brilliant atmosphere. It’s just marred by gameplay that doesn’t really challenge the player, clunky movement and a barren narrative that ends on an abrupt note.

WeTheNerdy gives The Inner Friend 7 nightmares out of 10.

Pros:
• Fun symbolism
• Creepy.

Cons:
• Clunky movement.
• Simplistic gameplay and puzzle design.
• Narrative is lacking.
• Short.


About the Author

Kyle Simcox