Sometimes, it’s important to move past first impressions, because you never quite know when a game will end up being more than what it appears. Inner Voices by Sigma Games initially suffers from a somewhat lackluster presentation, mediocre voice acting, and stiff controls. However, if you can push past the first few minutes, you’ll discover that this game is something special.
In this horror title, you play as John Blake, who awakens within a decrepit, maze-like area full of strange environmental oddities. John is confused by where he is, as he can’t remember anything. He soon meets a mysterious robed figure who claims to be an ally to John, informing the protagonist that he is, in fact, dead, and he must travel through a maze of his broken memories to retrieve runes, which will help him fully remember his life little-by-little.
From here, you start to travel through various rooms, choosing doors to go down different, randomized paths. The maze is always changing, so you never know what you’ll get on the other side of a door. Once in a while, you’ll reach an important area, where you’ll need to explore and solve a puzzle so that you may retrieve a rune. Some puzzles are more complex than others, and there can be multiple outcomes, giving different twists on how John’s life turned out. You can also find runes just lying around different areas, waiting to be collected.
You always have access to a “safe area” that you can enter and exit at the press of a button. Here, you can see what memories you have retrieved, important notes you’ve read, and what runes you have collected. This is basically all there is to the game, but it’s pulled off in such an interesting fashion. Since the room order is randomized, no playthrough will be exactly the same. Also, depending on the choices you make as well as the runes you collect, you can get one of five different endings.
Being a horror game, you can expect a number of scares. However, instead of relying on things chasing you and the fear of death, it relies on pure atmosphere and visuals to spook you. Inner Voices has a very H.P. Lovecraft vibe to it. There are a couple of jump scares, but they’re quite minimal and pulled off in rather ingenious ways. At first all I could do was chuckle at the game’s obvious low budget, but as the story went on, things got increasingly unnerving, and there were times I actually got creeped out. It often manages to perfectly embody the concept of insanity and madness.
Granted, sometimes the spook factor is dwindled a bit by the hilariously cheesy voice acting. John’s voice actor is stiff and clearly sounds like he’s just reading off of a script, and the robed figure sounds like he has a frog in his throat. It’s not Resident Evil levels of bad, but it is enough to add a possibly unintentional ham to the experience.
Inner Voices also suffers from some technical issues. The controls often feel unresponsive, and rotating objects can be an atrocious experience. You also have to be careful where you drop items, because there are times you could accidentally lose them. My biggest complaint, however, comes from the menu, of all things. Good luck if you want to change the controls, because the menu is going to make absolute sure you never do. No matter what action you try to change, it will only affect the jump command. I was only able to change both the jump and crouch commands by luck, but I gave up trying to change anything else.
Aside from two particularly annoying puzzles, however, this game made fantastic use of both atmosphere and level layout to provide challenges that weren’t necessarily difficult, but creative enough to where you sometimes had to think outside of the box. Inner Voices is also lenient enough to where if you fail certain puzzles, you’ll simply get different details changed in John’s life, so you can still collect your runes and move on.
Inner Voices is overall marred a bit by certain design choices, but if you’re looking for a fresh horror experience that provides plenty of replayability, this title is an excellent choice. With its incredible atmosphere, one playthrough averaging around three to four hours, five different endings, and a price tag of $10, this is a game I can definitely recommend trying out.
Hi, I'm James. I like to play video games and then scream at people's faces about them. I started getting into gaming around the PS1 and N64 days, and I've been addicted ever since.