A broken, terrified man writhes on a filthy bed. He twists and turns and utters garbled cries of apparent mental anguish. The form of a childlike, not quite whole spirit approaches and stares down into the fiery glowing place where the man’s face should be and finds himself falling into his unconscious, damaged mind.
This is the genuinely chilling beginning of PLAYMIND’s brand new release, The Inner Friend, making it’s debut today on PC with the promise of a console release next year.
From the official synopsis:
Dive into an eerie subconscious universe to face childhood fears and nightmares in order to restore peace to the distressed mind. Led by a mysterious Shadow, players will collect memories while they journey always deeper through the subconscious, unraveling a rich but wordless story and eluding gruesome beings.
My first impression of the game was how gorgeous and surreal developer Emmanuel Sevigny’s world really is.
In order to access the deeper portions of the subconscious mind, you must take a leap of faith of sorts. Abandoning the safe space of a child’s bedroom inside the character’s mind, you leap into a void falling down and down until you reach the floating buildings below. Inside some, there are portals, and through those portals you will find the pieces needed to rebuild a broken mind.
It’s a clever device that works to the game’s advantage, reminding us quickly that nothing is quite as it appears, but that’s really only the beginning.
The pieces you need aren’t easy to find, you see, and there are a whole host of genuinely creepy beings and scenes to work through in order to obtain them. A hallway that leads from one room to the next may go somewhere else entirely when you take it again. An object or character that is seemingly harmless, may be the most deadly you’ve faced.
The creative team left no stone un-turned in building their world, providing as much for the ears as for the eyes. The ambient sounds, intensified because I was using my headphones no less, constantly warn of horrors in your periphery while the heavily synthesized 80s-inspired soundtrack–with gentle nods to Netflix’s “Stranger Things”– keeps you constantly moving.
The more deeply you move into the subconscious, the more terrifying and challenging the game becomes, of course, echoing the idea that those things we bury deepest are the ones that hurt us most, and it serves as a reminder that healing can be almost as painful as the trauma that created one’s wounds.
Taking a step back to look at the big picture, however, sheds light on the question that is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the game.
How much does a human being have to go through for their mind to shatter so completely?
Game play in The Inner Friend is fairly straightforward and easy to master with simple controls. You’re often required to make lightning fast decisions on the fly, however, in order to solve the challenges of each level so be prepared to use your brain and also to pay the piper when your choice is the wrong one.
The Inner Friend is available September 6, 2018 on Steam, and at only $14.99 it’s a really great deal. Check out the trailer below, and prepare yourself to enter this amazing world.