I thought it was a good story. I thought: "It's sure to have a happy ending."
I was wrong. It's a story about pain.
Let me tell you...again...
INMOST is an indie adventure game developed by Hidden Layer Games and published by Chucklefish. It was released on Steam, the Nintendo Switch, and iOS on August 21st, 2020.
The story follows three different playable characters, with the narrative switching from one viewpoint to the next at various intervals: Adam, an old man navigating the towering castle of a great and terrible witch; The Knight, a mysterious man clad in armor gathering the suffering of his quarries in exchange for great power from dark forces; and Elizabeth, an adventurous and imaginative young girl trying to make the best of an uneasy relationship with her parents. As the story progresses, the three stories slowly but surely weave together to create a deeply emotional tale about loss, love, and hope.
A trailer for the game can be viewed here.
INMOST features examples of the following:
- Abusive Parents / Parental Neglect: Elizabeth's mother, who makes an effort to ignore her and lashes out at her when she can't. It turns out that Elizabeth was a Replacement Goldfish and her mother couldn't handle it.
- Allegorical Character: A number of them.
- The Keeper of the Spark seems to be an Anthropomorphic Personification of the pain of living.
- The Knight represents Elizabeth's distorted view of her foster father: a greedy man who stole her away, toiling thanklessly and fruitlessly to earn her affection.
- The Castle represents despair: the despair of Adam, his son, and his daughter-in-law at losing their first child, and the despair of Elizabeth over her tragic and horrid history with her foster family.
- The witch represents Elizabeth's foster mother, lost in madness and grief over the death of her daughter and spiteful toward her foster child. The snake that the Keeper conjures to kill the Knight also represents Elizabeth's foster mom, specifically after crossing the Despair Event Horizon and aiming to kill both her husband and herself.
- The white fox in Adam's story seems to be a stand-in for his late wife.
- An Aesop:
- Pain is an inherent part of life, but that does not mean life is pain. Even in the face of the darkest of hardships, it can still be possible to live a good life.
- It is possible to bring happiness to others at the expense of your own, but doing so isn't necessary, and may not even be wanted. One can find happiness and bring it to others by simply being there: sharing hardships, easing loneliness, and making stories together — both happy and sad.
- Bittersweet Ending: Elizabeth's foster parents — Adam's son and daughter-in-law — have died tragically and cruelly, their lives destroyed by the grief of losing their first daughter. But Elizabeth has come to terms with who her foster parents were, Adam seems to finally be at peace with himself in his old age, and the two are living out their lives happily together, striving to face and accept life's hardships.
- Book Ends: The first spoken words in the game (the page quote) and the last, which show Elizabeth finally coming to terms with who her foster parents were and letting go of her misery.
- Central Theme: The suffering and hardships inherent to life and love, how they affect us, and how we handle them.
- Driven to Suicide: Adam's granddaughter, his son and daughter-in-law's first child, ended her life thanks to the unbearable bullying she suffered in school.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Elizabeth and Adam suffer immensely and lose two of the few important people in their lives, but they ultimately manage to find solace together and aim to live happily despite the suffering they may endure.
- Evil Phone: The phone call Adam receives from his son's wife, telling him that her family will be Together in Death. Adam drops the receiver in abject horror before racing to their house, finding his son and daughter-in-law dead, his foster granddaughter missing... and a note from his daughter-in-law to his granddaughter, showing her directions to the wreckage of the house where her original parents were...
- Forced to Watch: Adam's granddaughter, the original child of Elizabeth's foster parents, killed herself over intense bullying at school. Adam notably goes through a Nightmare Sequence where he watches his granddaughter through a locked door being laughed at by crowds of other kids before miserably walking to a windowsill, with him unable to do anything to stop her from jumping but pound on the door.
- Hope Spot: Near the end, Adam's son finally tells Elizabeth what happened to her birth parents, and it seems like the two of them are on the path to reconciling. Then Adam's wife kills him and then herself in a Murder-Suicide in order to be Together in Death with their first daughter.
- Kids Are Cruel: So cruel that they drove Adam's granddaughter to commit suicide with their continuous bullying.
- The Lost Lenore: It's heavily implied, based on the final moments of Adam's section, that his wife passed away sometime shortly after she gave birth to their son.
- Murder-Suicide: Adam's daughter-in-law eventually becomes so consumed with grief over the death of her first daughter that she kills her husband and then herself so that they can be Together in Death.
- Poor Communication Kills: If Adam's son had mustered up the courage to tell Elizabeth what had happened to her birth parents, a lot of their strained relationship would've likely been resolved.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Even before it's spelled out in the end, players might pick up on how Adam's son shares his head shape, particularly his prominent nose. The only real difference between the two is that Adam's son has a goatee while Adam has a full beard.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Even though Adam's daughter-in-law murdered his son, Adam doesn't completely hate her, understanding that it was a result of her being unable to process her grief over the death of her daughter.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Adam's son spends so much time working himself to the bone to earn Elizabeth's affection that he ends up leaving her alone most of the time with his increasingly unstable wife, which only serves to make her despise him even more and rebuff his attempts to reach out to her. It's implied to a degree that his work also kept him from being there consistently for his first daughter to help her cope with her bullying problem. At the very least, his wife blames his absences for why their first daughter committed suicide.