InSomnia Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

There are definitely some strange things brewing out of Russia right now. As the first game from Russian-based studio MONO, InSomnia is distinctly titled as a “tactical real-time RPG with sandbox elements that include randomly generated events and a deep crafting system set in a retro-futuristic dieselpunk world.” Yes, it’s a mouthful, but it is pretty much on-point with the experience I had playing the game’s prologue -which is actually available directly on their site


The world of InSomnia was once hopeful but is now reduced to one of desperation.

If I could add my own description to the above one given by the dev team, I would say that InSomnia is an isometric RPG that is as equally enthralling as it is mysterious. Suffice it to say that the prologue I played is presented as but only a small taste of the finished game, and, in fact, may not even be a part of the game when it is released. In this prologue, I played as a haggard errand man with a mechanical jaw by the name of Type. His introduction is the game’s as well. He sits in his armchair drinking a beverage called crykk, or, at least, a knock-off version of crykk, which is not described in detail except as “the choice of drink for those who have hit rock bottom.” As he sits and drinks, his VO plays over a few shots of a desolate indoor urban wasteland (I have the faint distinction this game will require multiple adjectives to describe it) and the inhabitants wherein. Like something straight out of the theatrical version of Blade Runner, he speaks about a population of space-dwellers that are hanging on by a thread to what little sanity is left. As his voice speaks, shots of graffiti, rabid homelessness, and tightly-wound security patrolling the streets are shown. It’s only a few seconds in and already a profound sense of oppression and isolation (both physical and emotional) are laid out.

If I could further describe what I perceived InSomnia to be, I would say it is a game devoid of saturated colors. This is a world where the sun doesn’t shine. Actually, the sun does not even exist. The world of inhabited in the game is called Object 6. It is a large space station that departed with whatever inhabitants could get aboard from a world that was on the verge of literally burning to ashes. By the time the game starts, Object 6 has been floating through space for 400 years. With 400 years has come an ecosystem wholly unique in style, yet oddly familiar in spirit. There is great division and strife amongst the cultural/spiritual/political subgroups, and the ones who pay for the most are the Ghetters: the common folk of Object 6. The streets littered with sick homeless, retro broken-down American muscle cars, patrol units, and the floating craft’s own band of zealots known as the Bea Kera.


Random sights like this Bea Kera preaching to a small group add a little extra texture to the world.

Getting a call on his house phone machine, which is oddly reminiscent of a Maneki-neko if it were constructed of sheet metal, bolts, and given a deep, somber human voice. As the cat voice allows me to take my call, I am present with a dialogue tree for my conversation over the phone. All NPCs of importance that I came in contact with were conducted using a dialogue tree. Though this is not a particular new method of interaction, InSomnia adds an extra layer of depth to the discussion by including descriptive text that pertains to characters’ demeanors, postures, and any other little detail the writers felt necessary. With including this, the game felt like playing a graphic novel of sorts. Aside from dialogue trees, the game includes a sandbox style of gameplay by where the world’s junk is your podporou. Stapled to this system is a crafting system that allowed me to put all the sheet metal and bolts I found in the garbage to use in building extra bullets and lock picks.

Another integrated mechanic of the game is that of the real-time combat that is supposed to be based on realism more than anything, but I have to say that the state it is in now, it still feels very much like a work in-progress. As I controlled Typer’s movement in typical mouse and’ keyboard fashion of WASD, combat was handled with the left and right mouse buttons. Left mouse was my ‘attack’ button, whereas my block was handled with the right mouse button. As simple as the controls here are, there were several times when the physics of the game allowed for some funky collision-detection (i.e. I would sometimes hit someone or get hit without actually getting hit or hitting the thing itself). Of course, this is something that can be fixed before launch, and I do hope, and rightfully expect the developers to do so. Aside from just melee combat, the game allows for swordplay and shooting mechanics.Shooting is handled with holding down the right mouse button and shooting with the left; reloading is dealt with by pressing the R key. My experience with shooting things was much more smoother, and in fact it was my main mode of realization if I had to pick one. Aiming is precise to the point where patience really does pay off here.


If the developers stay on course, Object 6 is a place that may go down as one of the more unique environments in recent RPGs.

Even if I did have some minor drawbacks in terms of mechanical problems, I can not express how much I was appreciating the art design that went into creating the translucent aura of Object 6 and the inhabitants scattered throughout. For someone who finds environmental storytelling to be the most effective form of building a cohesive (or, in this case, crumbling) world, InSomnia compelled me to consider what the finished game would be. Also, when you consider that the game already has a more descriptive style of talking to NPC, it is a pretty idiosyncratic combination. Yet, that is perhaps the very reason why I want to come back to game when it is done -to see how to dissimilar modes of telling a story can be harmonized together.

Hope. That is a word I hold tightly to when I think if this game. The developers promise a deep, rich character customization; and what with the already great artwork the game holds, would be awesome to be able to tinker with when creating my character. So, that is one hope. Another hope would be to see if the rest of the world is as bleakly captivating as the bit of it that I was able to see in the prologue.

No exact date has been dated for the game’s final release, but currently the team is holding a second kickstarter for the game, which if successful, will guarantee that the release will be sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, my anticipations for InSomnia are pretty high.