Inua - A Story in Ice and Time review
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Inua - A Story in Ice and Time review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on February 10th, 2022
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: ON THIN ICE
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This time-hopping adventure is easy to cruise through, but the mystery that it unfolds might leave you with more questions than answers.

Developer: Skeleton Business

Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

I've grown fond of narrative adventure games that spend less time trying to stump you and more on unfolding an interesting story. This is precisely the kind of experience Inua - A Story in Ice and Time is, though the initial part of the journey is a lot more satisfying than its oddly empty conclusion.

A tale of time jumps

Inua - A Story in Ice and Time opens as a story about a young reporter named Taïna chasing down a lead about a shipwreck to try and make her big break. This ship, the Terror, mysteriously disappeared and is linked to some other strange happenings up in the Arctic, which you--playing as Taïna--hope to get to the bottom of.

Quickly enough, you not only get to learn more about the mystery of the Terror, but actually get to witness the events of the expedition first-hand when discovering certain objects ends up allowing you as the player to jump between time periods to learn more about this fateful journey and how they connect to Taïna and others that have gravitated toward this story.

Tap n' talk

Playing Inua feels a lot like a point-and-click adventure game, though perhaps a bit less interactive. Scenes (and the characters in them) remain static as you poke around, looking for items of interest. These things could be a phone, a lantern, some rocks, etc. and activating them adds certain topics to a ring menu you can activate by tapping on characters in a scene.

Once you pick and item, you get to hear what selected characters have to say about them. Sometimes this advances the overall narrative forward, and sometimes it just provides some additional characterization to the game's cast. In any case, you repeat this kind of item gathering for dialog prompts through the entirety of the game, and there are plenty of menu indicators to let you know exactly how to make progress and what else you might be missing so you can always make smooth progress through the story.

Lost in the ice

I found myself entranced by the first couple of Inua's six chapters thanks to the game's beautiful presentation, snappy pacing, and intriguing mystery. Past that point, though, my interest started to wane as the plot started to meander in ways that weren't entirely clear. I held out hope that the game's ending would tie a bunch of strange back-half writing together, but all it gives is a vague suggestion of what actually happened, and its closing lines only feel like they apply to one of the three narratives you pilot throughout the game.

Now that I am done with Inua, I have more questions about what its story is about than I had before I started. This isn't to say the game's storytelling is altogether bad. There are moments throughout the game that accomplish some nice character work and have nuanced things to say about colonial imperialism, but the overall arc just falls really flat. I understand what happened at every point in the story, but the game doesn't quite do enough to suggest why those things are happening and what they have to do with its final destination.

The bottom line

I am glad that I didn't have any complicated puzzles holding me up as I made my way through Inua, but I do wish its storytelling held up its end of the bargain. This artic mystery is still a looker and is somewhat satisfying to make your way through, but if you're expecting some kind of satisfying conclusion, you're in for a let-down.

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