InSomnia is a deeply atmospheric RPG that is currently around halfway into its Kickstarter campaign. What immediately caught my eye in this Studio MONO developed game was its beautifully crafted environments and atmosphere of a space station on a 400 year journey to find a new home. The prologue areas oozed with character and style and reminded me of Bioshock’s iconic Rapture setting. But the games influences don’t stop there as a lot of Fallout can be gleaned as I scrapped through metal and other materials while crafting new items. InSomnia has a real maturity to it even in its storytelling which also mimics the older Fallout titles and really gives off the classic sci-fi adventure feel, which is compounded further with its isometric perspective.
The narrative can be a bit overwhelming as the developers throw a lot at you to begin with, but the world and some of its inhabitants are so interesting that I did not mind. As the story goes, the ship is heading towards the ‘Evacuation Point’ where mankind hopes to start over again. The developer has expressed their inspiration for the narrative coming from World War documentaries, and the game includes references to historic characters. On the environmental side, I can only describe it as a futuristic Wasteland in its world-building and locales. Even more so, the game’s ambient noise and stellar musical score further immerse you in the experience as you travel through dark hallways and mess halls, accompanied by striking tunes and the roar of the ship. Exploration is also a large part of the game, as you stumble upon preachers surrounded by followers, dark rooms in the corners of the ship, and new characters to interact with. The game boasts an appealing lighting system – which comes as no surprise as the game runs on Unreal Engine 4 – and the classic look of the character models fit in with the world and the story.
On the gameplay side, its real-time nature paired with the isometric view is refreshing in an era where modern sensibilities trump all. I particularly enjoyed the weapon combat and aiming system as its tactical approach can open up gameplay possibilities and how you approach targets. Players also have the ability to melee – both a standard and strong attack-, but must watch out for the stamina bar shown on the HUD. Interestingly, a sprint ability is thrown in, although I didn’t see much use of it as most areas were close-quarters or packed with loot-able objects. Crafting also plays a vital role and players can find new items and upgrade parts – as well as character abilities and stats – as you uncover more of the space station. The tactical nature of the gameplay and planning works well here and the controls are solid for the most part besides getting used to the movement system initially. In this prologue demo, there were a few graphical hiccups that effected my play experience, although the full game should be a more polished version.
InSomnia delivers in the potential of its storytelling with interesting characters littering the atmospheric space station on its way to human salvation. I enjoyed the gameplay experience more than I thought I would, particularly the decision to go with an isometric view. But it is in its superbly crafted environments and spot on musical score that makes it worth trying out. It looks and sounds authentic, and this helps with making its narrative more believable and investing the player into the goings-on of the world. It also helps that its characters are fun to interact with via a Fallout-style dialogue system that fits in with the games old school look. Developer Studio MONO’s only challenge now, is to expand this experience over an entire campaign and deliver on the promise of InSomnia and its spectacular world.