The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Kalypso (EU), Headup Games (US)
Developer: Studio Fizbin
Release Date: Oct. 20, 2017


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk'

by Thomas Wilde on June 26, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk takes players on another crazy journey in the world of Asposia, with the most absurd characters, ingenious puzzles and hilarious encounters around.

I ended up giving The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk one of my "Best of E3 2017" nominations because it's a proper point-and-click adventure game.

That is, it's a game about finding random bits of debris on the ground and figuring out how to use them to solve puzzles. There's some dialogue, but it's not the whole point of the game, and those puzzles are mostly about lateral thinking rather than trying to connect telepathically with the developers' minds. (I've still got beef with that stupid silhouette puzzle in The Longest Journey. It's been more than a decade. I don't care.) Instead, The Last Wind Monk has a pleasantly '80s/'90s feel to its puzzles, where once you figure out their solutions, those solutions actually make some intuitive sense.

The Last Wind Monk is a sequel to 2013's The Inner World. In the last game, Robert defeated his evil foster father Conroy and was promptly petrified for three years. When he's turned back from stone, he discovers that Conroy, far from being remembered as the villain he was, has become a figurehead for a regressive political movement. Now Conroy's a beloved hero, and Robert is a member of an oppressed minority: the flute-noses, without whom life on the world of Asposia is going to grind to a slow, painful stop.

Robert sets out to set all this right by finding the last wind monk, accompanied by his pigeon friend Peck and a rebel flute-nose named Laura. When either of them are present, you can switch between them and Robert at any time, letting you use Peck to explore distant areas or swap back and forth from Laura to Robert to solve puzzles in different rooms.

You may have played a few point-and-click games before now, but The Last Wind Monk feels like an iteration on the sub-genre. You can push a button to label all the interactive objects on-screen, for example, which takes all the irritating pixel-hunting out of the mixture, and the game has an increasingly blunt built-in hint system, the UI for which reminds me a lot of the cheap white hint books you used to be able to buy for the Sierra adventure games. The Last Wind Monk isn't anywhere near as sadistic as those used to be, however; there are no untimely deaths in it, nor are there ways to get permanently stuck.

The puzzles are going to be immediately familiar if you've got any kind of foundation in the genre. Mostly, it's about picking up anything that isn't nailed down, and if it is nailed down, finding a hammer so you can pry it up. Once it's in your inventory, you then figure out a way to use it to get past your next obstacle, which usually means using it in a way other than it was originally intended. Since it's 2017, this is mixed with a fair bit of information-gathering and the occasional clue from dialogue.

The Last Wind Monk runs on its own sort of gentle cartoon logic, where you end up finding 1,001 uses for the small, fluffy sheep/mice critters that fly around everywhere, a wedge of cheese is dense enough to use as a doorstop, and a big part of one chapter involves trying to figure out how to reach and speak with someone who does not seem wildly discomfited by being duct-taped to a windmill. It has a feel to it, when you see it in motion, like you're playing a particularly eccentric children's book.

I grew up on this sort of adventure game, and it's been disappointing to see the "adventure" genre become more of a guided, interactive tour through a story. The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk is a thoughtful, decidedly weird throwback of a game, and it's the kind of thing I always want to see more of.

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