Aspire: Ina’s Tale Could Have Been So Much More

Aspire: Ina’s Tale is a short and simple puzzle game about a girl who must escape from the Tower.  Along the way, you gain several “spirits” that allow you to solve puzzles.  These spirits are: energy (for powering things), movement (for moving objects horizontally or vertically), and magnitude (for making objects bigger and smaller). 

This lovely looking game has one of those vague stories that you’ll have to try and figure out on your own.  Ina is described as the “heart” of the Tower, which was attacked by these massive, now immobile, knights.  Along the way, she meets several characters who seem to have forgotten who they are.  If you’re looking to uncover the few secrets this game offers, there seem to be four crystals that restore these character’s memories, and I was able to find three of these with little effort.

The Joker and the Thief

Aspire feels a bit like Gris, albeit not as good or as polished.  Gameplay is fairly slow-paced and devoid of combat (though there are a few threats you’ll need to avoid), and Ina will often have to interact with blocks and platforms to solve puzzles by using the spirits she’s obtained, along with some old-fashioned platforming.  The puzzles are pretty decent and usually made me think, though they’re not terribly difficult or inspired.  For example, you might need to use the spirit of movement to lift some platforms until you reach the door or use the spirit of magnitude to expand a block until it presses down on two switches at once.

Unfortunately, the majority of the game has you utilizing only one spirit at a time, making the puzzles a lot less interesting than they could have been.  And the platforming is just a bit clunky, as Ina’s not the best at jumping, and sometimes the simple act of picking an object up was a bit of a struggle.  As far as performance is concerned, I played the game on the Switch, and it crashed once (I lost no progress due to frequent check points, at least), and it seemed to stutter a decent amount, especially in the first half of the game.

Video from YouTube User: Virtual Bastion

Aspire: Ina’s Tale is a rather underwhelming game that could have been so much better if the developers had just fleshed it out a bit more.  With only three spirits and four characters to interact with, the game almost felt like a long demo rather than a finished product.  That’s not to say the game was bad.  I enjoyed my short time with it well enough, though I can’t say anything was super groundbreaking or memorable.  Fortunately, I got the game on sale for a mere $1.99, and for such a cheap price, it was well worth my time.  I would not, however, recommend buying it for the full price of $12.99.  But if you can get this game on sale, you can find it on all major consoles and PC, though I would much sooner recommend Gris, which had a far more compelling story and better puzzles and platforming.