The Inner Friend originally released on PC in 2018, but made the move to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year, bringing its award-winning gameplay to console players. Although the critics didn’t necessarily agree with the awards that the game won – including “Best in Show” at the Montreal Indie Games Festival 2017, “Best Experimental Game” at TGS 2018, and “Best in Play” at GDC Play 2019 – having played the game myself, I can fully recommend The Inner Friend as a great way to spend one of your evenings during October’s 31 Days of Halloween.
A story does exist in The Inner Friend, but only to the extent that it lets players piece together major past life events that have led the main character to the position they are in at the beginning of the game. These events are revealed in the form of levels, which players have to overcome to move on. These events/levels include things like a shopping mall, hospital, and forest.
Sounds innocent enough, right? Think again.
The memories in each level represent a tramatic life event, focusing in on the fear from each situation. All of the levels are unsettling, but the level that takes place in the salon was one of the scariest things I’ve played in a video game in recent memory. Thanks to COVID-19, I’ve already been giving myself haircuts at home. Being chased by a grotesque monster with massive, rusty shears in The Inner Friend did enough to make me never want to step foot into a hair salon ever again. I will at some point, of course, but that memory is going to stick with me for a very, very long time.
The Inner Friend only takes a few hours to complete, making it great for playing straight through in a single evening. It also offer some replayability after beating the main campaign by finding certain objects in the levels to unlock more of the mystery. Ultimately, the imagery and metaphors coupled with a soundtrack that fits the game perfectly makes The Inner Friend worth checking out – espeically at the reasonable price of $15.