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Aspire: Ina’s Tale, Review

Aspire: Ina’s Tale is an absolutely beautiful puzzle platformer from Wondernaut Studios. You play as a young girl, Ina, who has been held prisoner in a mysterious tower that feeds on people’s dreams. As you’d expect that leads to some stunning backdrops and some nightmarish characters. Released earlier this month on the Nintendo Switch for a very reasonable price (less than £15!), which meant I just had to purchase it to see whether it plays as good as it looks.

Ina’s Tale is as magnificent looking as that bundle of hair!

After waking up, Ina sets off on a journey to discover who she is as well as the secrets of the tower with that big floppy hair bundle trailing behind her which is kind of entertaining but it also really helps with letting you see where she is on the screen at times even if she is always central. You’ll occasionally encounter other prisoners and will have to help them in order to learn about them and their ties to both the tower and herself, and let’s be honest… they don’t all look exactly trustworthy!

There’s more to the game than just its good looks with a delightful story weaved in and a good amount of puzzles to solve before you can move on to the next area. It’s a game that when it was announced, I knew that I’d be buying it with the hopes that it’d meet my expectations. Did it? Well, to find that out, you’ll need to keep on reading.

Aspire Inas Tale

The Game

Now the gameplay, it’s your basic 2D puzzle platformer. There’s swinging across chains, jumping onto platforms and ledges, moving heavy blocks, and activating levers and platforms. The one thing I did find on the Switch was that when it came to swinging across chains, I was switching from using the joystick to the directional buttons as they responded better. The joystick just made Ina slightly swing whilst climbing, even though I didn’t want to climb. A problem with the game or a problem with the Switch Joy-Cons? I’d lean more towards it being a Joy-Con problem myself. They’re pesky things and the drift problems that have been around for years show that they’re not the best.

There is a somewhat unique gimmick in Aspire: Ina’s Tale, as she can harness balls of light energy. More than one at a time as well. These are used to help her/you activate various moving platforms, power up flying robot allies, and keeping the tower’s creepy looking creatures at bay. For the most part, the puzzles are fairly straightforward, however, there were a couple of puzzles that require some thought. Some require very precise timing which can get frustrating, but it’s nothing that seems unachievable. For the most part, Aspire: Ina’s Tale isn’t a difficult game but there are some challenges.

Aspire Inas Tale preview one
Keeping the creepy but awesome looking creatures at bay

Look & Sound

The graphics, as mentioned previously, are absolutely beautiful. You could sell the game on the graphics alone. The character designs might not be the most complex, but they all have something that makes you marvel. The colour palette is vibrant and dynamic, and each area is striking in its beauty, whether the background is broken robots or scenery with trees and towers. There are several sections to the tower and each has its own distinct look, most noticeably in its colour palette. What really stands out though are the moments when the camera pulls back and shows sweeping, grandiose shots of the area. Those instances are absolutely majestic and leave you hitting that screenshot button.

To go with the beautiful art design, the sound is just as good. There is no voice acting and all dialogue is delivered through text boxes. Voice over just isn’t needed. There are sound effects though, like metallic clicks and whirs of the tower’s mechanisms, your robot guides make little noises and the growls and snarls of the beasts are menacing. However, the musical score is the champion here. It’s perfectly atmospheric and as beautiful as the backgrounds on display.

Aspire Inas Tale preview three
Even the trees look good

Length & Replayability

The game is fairly short (about three hours), which some people will appreciate. I certainly wouldn’t complain if it was a bit longer just so that I can look at the backdrops some more. The game doesn’t offer much in the way of replayability either, as once you complete the game and experience the whole thing, there’s no reason to really go back. There are no achievements to unlock throughout or any difficulty settings. Once you’ve completed the game that’s it. It’s a shame, but for the price, it’s not a big deal. If we were talking about a game that cost what some of the Nintendo Switch games cost (£30 plus), then it’d be a bit of a letdown. But I will say it seems fairly priced considering the length and replayability of the game. Any more than its current cost though and the length would become a problem.

I would recommend dragging it out though. Play it over a few days, take it a bit at a time. Enjoy it instead of smashing it all out in one evening. Take the time to fully experience and appreciate all the work that has gone into creating such a beautifully designed game.

Aspire Inas Tale preview two
Man do they look creepy and super untrustworthy

Conclusions

Aspire: Ina’s Tale was an engaging, beautiful and delightful experience. It’s not a happy game by any means and the ending might not be a surprise, but the journey was well worth it. The characters, tone, atmosphere, backgrounds and music made Aspire: Ina’s Tale a memorable, if short, adventure. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a more casual yet thought-provoking experience – one that you don’t want to just play in one go. I know I mentioned this already, but seriously… take your time with it. Really take in the details in the backgrounds and character designs to appreciate just how stunning the game is.

I give Aspire: Ina’s Tale a well deserved 8/10. If it was longer it’d score higher because there’s so much to love about this game.

If you’re a Nintendo Switch player, why not check out some of our other Nintendo Switch reviews.

We Score This Game

rating score: 8

Very Good!

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