The music adds an ambiance that builds with the visuals.
The controls are sluggish and don’t translate from tablet to PC well.
Gameplay relies on repetition to complete levels.
Puzzles lack depth.
The Last Inua Review
Do Ports ever truly work? There is evidence to suggest that in some cases PC ports of games that have been released elsewhere are just as good, if not better, than their counterparts. Sadly this isn’t the case of Glowforth’s Action/Puzzle platformer “Last Inua”. This title was originally launched for tablet devices and has recently received the Port treatment for PC and Mac users, but I don’t think it has translated well.
The story introduces us to Ataataq, a father who is accompanying his son Hiko on a rite of passage through a world comprised of arctic tundra and howling winds. As the father and son travel through this snow scape, an evil power is unleashed, that has laid low three beings that protect the people of the game world. Ataataq wakes up next to a fire in a cave and sees that Hiko is missing. As it turns out, Hiko isn’t far away, and we soon learn that while he lacks the strength of his father he possesses a spiritual power that is key to undoing the damage to the world and restoring the guardians who watch over everything. This is the premise of the game and while it is a fairly simple concept it is executed perfectly. The journey will take Ataataq and Hiko through a myriad of dangerous environments with a surprisingly emotional conclusion. I don’t often feel a great deal of sympathy for my platforming characters but in Last Inua, even I had to acknowledge the work that has gone in to make this relatively simple tale, a tale that does punch well above its weight.
There is no denying that the artwork in Last Inua is fantastic, if it were to be judged as a “mobile” game it would be astounding, but I have always felt (and this may be the gaming snob in me) that PC and console games are, and should be, held to a higher standard. As a result the overall effect of the excellent artwork is somewhat diminished as it lacks the kind of depth that I have come to expect. The animations of both Ataataq and Hiko are smooth enough to cause no problems, however there isn’t a whole lot in the game that needs to be animated. It looks like exactly what it was: a mobile game. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I was disappointed that it wasn’t more engaging in any other way than “oooohhhh pretty snow”.
Your guide and narrator (for lack of a better term) is a little blue glowing sphere that will follow you around the game world. There is very little voice acting in Last Inua, so little that saying “none” would only be understating the total content by two words. Instead you will be told the story through subtitles as your glowing blue friend squeaks away to himself. This isn’t that unusual as there are plenty of games out there that share this same concept, but as before, I feel less complacent when playing them on my PC.
The gameplay mechanics are fairly simple and the controls are straight forward. As you would expect, you have to traverse each level avoiding threats. These threats start as the all familiar black goo that spurts from the ground, spikes that will kill you instantly if you take a tumble down the wrong gap, and slowly move on to Yetis, ghosts and zombie wolves. Each threat can be easily avoided, providing you know it’s there. I found that more often than not, I would be ambushed by an enemy jumping from a hiding spot, or I was unable to see the spikes below a ledge due to the limitations of the screen size and camera angle that forced me to replay sections. Puzzles don’t require much thought, all you need to do is figure out what character you need to use and then, ultimately, just press SPACE BAR or left click the mouse. It was more of a memory game than skill or reaction that I think is better suited to a younger gamer. That’s not a snide remark; I honestly think that kids will get more enjoyment out of this game than adults or the “serious” gamer.
You will control both Ataataq and Hiko, movement is controlled by the W,A,D keys as you would expect and you can switch between your two characters with the SHIFT button. Each character has their own special abilities, Ataataq can jump across gaps, punch through blockages in his path and use his ice picks to climb certain walls. Hiko, on the other hand, has no jump option and relies on his spiritual powers. Hiko can teleport across obstacles using orange glowing portals and can enlist the help of the glowing orb to lay down a layer of ice and snow at specific points using the mouse, it’s easy to know when you can use this ability as he glows brighter than normal. The last of Hiko’s powers comes in to play when you find each of the three Guardians. You will have to merge with the spirit and collect what I assume is essence to restore their vitality. In order to traverse this almost spirit world, Hiko can fly using the SPACE BAR. It is fiddly as hell and I had to change to a two handed keyboard approach to get past these sections.
This brings me to probably my biggest problem, and I suppose the only real flaw with this port. The controls suck. While they are the simplest controls since Pong, it is totally unresponsive. Turning from one direction to the next takes an age and will often see you fall from a narrow perch, even Ataataq‘s jumping can fail as he runs straight to his doom. It just doesn’t translate well to a mouse and keyboard format.
The music in Last Inua matches the artwork perfectly and together they do build an atmosphere of togetherness and wonder, there’s not a huge number of sound effects in the game either, so overall, it does feel like a bare bones attempt.
Last Inua is a game that I think people should play, especially younger or more casual gamers as there is enjoyment to be had here. The simplicity of the entire game and the surprisingly emotional story goes a long way to make this an enjoyable game. The mouse and keyboard controls don’t do Last Inua any favours though, and it can deteriorate into a rather frustrating repetitive experience. If this were still touchscreen based I would recommend it as a must buy, but this port just doesn’t live up to what it could be and is on its original tablet format.
The Last Inua Review
11th December 2014