Ina, a young former priestess, has awoken after having seemingly been held captive within a mysterious tower where she has spent quite some time sleeping and dreaming. In Aspire: Ina's Tale, the player is tasked with guiding Ina through the tower's puzzles to find a way out and uncover the reason for her imprisonment. Guide light, push blocks and traverse wonderfully picturesque environments in this 2D gorgeous puzzle platformer.
At first glance, it's pretty obvious that I'm going to be talking about the lighting. Throughout Aspire: Ina's Tale, the technique is implemented phenomenally, bringing life and attention to its minor details. This then accentuates the game's use of reflection which can sometimes make you feel as though you're in a hall of mirrors.
The plot is well paced and provides a wonderful sense of mystery from the get-go. It may be a video game trope (waking from a deep slumber with no memories of how you got where you are) but Aspire: Ina's Tale does this in a way that immediately makes you wary of the unknown culprit, all while being wrapped up in a fantastical setting and a wonderfully serene soundtrack.
- Lighting and visual aesthetics
- Well paced, mysterious plot
Aspire: Ina's Tale, at least on Switch, has some unfortunate frame rate stuttering that disrupts the beauty of its environments. While this game isn't a fast-paced precision platformer, it certainly makes intricate puzzle solving a nuisance and cheap deaths feel just that, cheap. And on the topic of technical issues, I encountered a few bugs and glitches that lead to strange and unexplained deaths; one in particular came from me leaving a room I just entered and finding the previous room to be nothing but a dark void that had me fall to my death; and then another room five minutes later had the camera refuse to follow me to the next room.
Once you get over the wonderful aesthetics and serene vistas, Aspire: Ina's Tale seems hollow from a gameplay perspective. Go from one room to another, push a few blocks around, move some light orbs around to control some doors, jump from one hanging chain to the next, proceed, rinse and repeat. The dialogue segments help to break up this monotony a little but when all is said and done, there's not too much to get excited over here.
As a 2D puzzle platformer, the latter part of that genre should feel natural and precise in order for the player to focus on the puzzles. Ina feels clunky and awkward to control, with a realistic sense of inertia that doesn't compliment itself within the form of a cartoon-like video game.
- Technical issues
- Lacklustre and repetitive gameplay
- Clunky platforming
Final Score: 4/10
Aspire: Ina's Tale showed brief glimpses of promise but these were often soured by technical issues and/or poor controls. The art team must be praised for their work as the landscape variety deserves all of the accolades that it's likely to receive. However, I regret to say that once you tear through that beautiful wrapping paper, you're left with nothing but a bland cardboard box.
Thank you for checking out our Aspire: Ina's Tale Switch review, thank you to Untold Tales (via Wire Tap Media) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: