Inner Chains isn’t your typical horror FPS game. There’s plenty of gore and all-around creepiness, but the pacing is much slower and more methodical than the often frenetic pace set in most other horror games. Jump scares and heart pumping action isn’t the main driver here, in Inner Chains, it’s a slow tightening of suspense which builds over the whole course of the game and it’s wonderful. This is our Inner Chains review.
The introduction is a bit long and although it can be skipped I would recommend watching it at least once. Not only does it give a lot of background information for the setting but it also leads into the gameplay well. Most of the game the story isn’t explicitly explained so knowing the background info was also very helpful to me when I was trying to figure out what exactly was going on… which really was most of the time. The first chapter was a bit rough because I realized quickly there was no combat in it and it was just introducing me to the world and the systems in the game. Unfortunately, that realization robbed the first part of some of its spookiness because I knew there was no real danger.
I’ve mentioned the pacing of Inner Chains is much slower than I am used to in horror games where most of the time I find myself running around shooting everything at a breakneck pace. However, weapons and ammunition are hard to come by in Inner Chains. In fact, if you use up all your ammo the guns will drain your life to keep shooting (because well they fuse into your arm) which really forced me to think and plan how I would get through various areas. There are plenty of other hazards around where if I planned well enough I could get the “zombies” to fall into those traps.
I’ve been mostly talking about the guns but I want to take a minute to talk about how melee combat works in this game because it takes a bit to find the first gun in game. In this game, you are one of the sorts of zombie dudes you encounter, but a bit different. As such your punches do not hit very hard and every time you take a swing it’s at the risk of getting hit as well. I also found it a bit difficult to aim the punches regardless of playing with a gamepad or the keyboard which was frustrating because hitting in the right spot or not could be the difference between the zombie falling into a trap or me dying.
There are health and ammo stations scattered around the various levels. These can be used multiple times (even in combat) but only have a limited supply. One nice aspect of the weapons as well is they are also used for getting through obstacles like using the lightning gun to short out an electric barrier. It’s an interesting extra use of the weapons which can further complicate the restricted amount of ammo.
The game only saves at checkpoints which is mostly fine but due to the begin unevenly spaced can lead to having to backtrack a fair amount which was frustrating. Also, they didn’t always seem to work the same way. You know you reach a checkpoint because there’s a biotech plant which opens and lights up when you get near it. Sometimes just seeing this plant open up was enough for the checkpoint to happen while others I would only get credit for the checkpoint after progressing a bit beyond it which was confusing and frustrating.
The art and setting of Inner Chains in incredibly beautiful and detailed, I often would stop and just look around everywhere there was an overlook because everything was so breathtaking. There’s so much detail in every part of the game it’s impressive. Unfortunately, all this detail might be a reason I had some issues with the performance of the game. My computer isn’t top of the line anymore, it’s a few years old at this point, but it also isn’t a toaster and there were a lot of areas where the background would be flickering. In addition to this, I had significant drops in FPS while playing where things would suddenly grind to a bit of a halt.
These two problems together with the fact there is no field of view slider also probably contributed to another issue I had while playing, motion sickness. It isn’t unusual for me to experience some amount of motion sickness while playing FPS games but I was surprised by this because when I played the demo at PAX East I didn’t have this issue at all. Of course, the gameplay and graphics were also flawless there.
On the upside, with these issues, the dev team is working hard on improvements and they have already added in additional options. Which considering the small dev team is quite impressive. Given some time I think they can iron out these issues and really they are the main thing holding it back at this point.