The Inner Friend Review – Wonderfully Weird, Tragically Short

The Inner Friend Review

Lots of us have great memories of our childhood. Drinking from the hose, staying up past curfew, playing in the summer sun. All of these activities and more encapsulated my childhood. What happens when we look back at our youth through the eyes of a nightmare? PLAYMIND’s game The Inner Friend left me asking that question. Or, rather, that’s what I believe the game was trying to convey. This game lets the player decipher the narrative themselves, not telling its story outright—maybe it could do more to help you find the final answer to the questions you’ll ask. Regardless, the sad truth is that you’ll have beaten and done everything the game has to offer in three hours of playtime. Playtime that never feels particularly challenging.

I won’t be revealing the ending of the game in case someone wants to pick it up, but the story would be best explained if that was how it started. Instead, what you’ll find at the beginning is a strange monster writhing on a bed. This monster has a small, ceramic child looking after it. We quickly find out this is the character we’re playing as. Each moment in the game gets closer and closer to the idea that you’re traversing memories. Whoever this child is has had bad memories of high school, a barber shop, the mall…that’s all we know. You’ll likely complete the game and get nothing more out of it than that. Paying attention during play to the things you’ll see and pick up grants you a few more tidbits. These allude to the idea that the character was mentally ill, perhaps depressed. One thing I’m not so clear on is the age at which these memories take place. The ending can be taken in a couple of different ways, but I felt a theme of acceptance within everything. I like this kind of story: it gives the opportunity for a self-projection and theorizing that engages the player further.

Oh, We Used to Laugh and Play…

The gameplay of The Inner Friend isn’t bad for a 3D platformer. The controls are pretty solid and you won’t have too hard a time controlling the character. You can move directionally, jump, and interact using one button. These, besides the pause, are the only controls in the game. The interact button performs multiple actions in the world such as calling out for a buddy, collecting memories, or opening doors. Each level is mainly walking around and doing light platforming or exploring with one or two puzzles sprinkled within. These puzzles range from easy to medium in difficulty. There shouldn’t be any puzzles you have a problem with.

These easy puzzles are one of the main contributors to the game’s short play time. I was able to complete the game, collect all the available collectibles, and earn every achievement in three hours…a record time for any game I’ve reviewed yet. The easy puzzles and lack of imagination with achievements makes that 100% very easy to get. Quite a bit of the game is simply walking as well, making it feel slow at times when you’re simply walking. No dialogue, just beautiful scenes to look at.

The Inner FriendSurrender to the Surreal

The graphics and music in The Inner Friend are on the higher parts of the gaming spectrum. Nothing ground-breaking, but the music fits the surreal style environments. The graphics feel nice and up to par with what you’d expect. Some truly gorgeous moments in the game will leave you speechless. The sound design is great too, making some environments that shouldn’t be scary terrifying. You can easily sink into this experience of a game and lose track of the time until the credits roll. This is something I do like when the game is longer.

In short, The Inner Friend is enjoyable, if not much too short title that is open to interpretation in its story. This game is worth a play if you can scrounge up the cash. The experience alone is worth picking it up. And yet, PLAYMIND could have explored so much with this idea. Once again the game is much too short, leaving that potential untapped. Adding some more clues to the protagonist’s real identity and what they did prior would help a lot when players start to examine the game. Regardless, pick it up if you feel like spending a little bit of cash on a nice, spooky, surreal game. Your inner friend will thank you.

***A PC code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Interesting story with different interpretations
  • Lots of collectibles
  • Rewards exploration
  • Lovely music and graphics

The Bad

  • Achievements feel unearned
  • Painfully short
  • Puzzles feel too easy