Inner Ashes is the first title by Spanish developer Calathea Game Studio it is out NOW on Switch, PC, Xbox and PlayStation
Captures the emotional toil of Alzheimer’s beautifully
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects over 55 million people worldwide, that number continues to grow by an estimated 10 million people a year. Inner Ashes came onto my radar by word of mouth, a brand new developer making a game that focuses on such an emotional and sensitive topic is a brave mood.
Step into the shoes of Henry and experience his journey through Inner Ashes. This narrative adventure uses environmental interaction and puzzle-solving to take you on a path of self-discovery.
Witness the impact of early-onset Alzheimer’s and unravel the memories of Henry’s separation from his daughter Enid. During the opening scenes, Henry goes to his wife’s grave with his daughter Enid. She questions why they visit the grave because it always causes him to feel sorrowful. It is hinted that she must have died when Enid was very young as she states that she can’t remember her. The game’s unique style represents the different stages of the disease and Henry’s forgotten memories, allowing you to explore his mind in various settings. Explore the daily struggles that those with Alzheimer’s experience and use Post-it notes to recognise objects, helping Henry remember how to use them and unlock past memories.
I noticed something interesting about the game – it’s entirely played in first-person perspective, It could be that first-person was chosen to really see the world through Henry’s eyes. At first, I didn’t quite get why the controls were displayed on the top left-hand side of the screen. But then, I realized that it’s actually a pretty helpful reminder. It’s just one of the many ways the game shows respect for the scenario.
The game’s story commences at Henry’s residence, which bears immense significance. There are Post-It notes placed all around the house, serving as helpful reminders for Henry. These are purely visual but the inclusion shows the time and effort that has gone into making the game.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics in Inner Ashes are stunning. Inspiration came from emotionally impactful titles such as That Dragon Cancer, Firewatch, and Last Day of June. The colour scheme is inviting, with its gentle hues that create a dreamy atmosphere. This complements the fact that the game takes place in Henry’s mind as he tries to unravel his relationship with Enid. Within the game, the sketchpad serves as both the main menu and a tool to view collected photos and letters. Within the sketchpad, the story is presented in a comic-book format. If however an area has not been completed, the page is a blurry watercolour to signify that Henry cannot recall it yet.
The game’s audio is well-suited for its style, featuring soft tones that create a dream-like atmosphere. The music changes noticeably between night and day, and the voice acting is convincing in portraying the interactions between a father and daughter. It’s unlikely that anyone would anticipate rock or high-energy music in this particular game. Puzzles like those shown below have you place pieces into a watercolour puzzle, I’m not ashamed to admit I struggled with one or two of these!!
You can expect to spend around 2 hours within the main story. The extent of your investigation can determine whether you miss any collectables. Therefore, if you aim to achieve the coveted platinum trophy, it’s advisable to invest ample time and immerse yourself in the story. I believe the story is appropriately sized as it is. It’s important to avoid unnecessary lengthening of the story.
The game Inner Ashes bravely tackles the sensitive topic of Alzheimer’s disease with great skill and sensitivity. The developer’s approach is both educational and tasteful, showcasing a deep understanding of the subject matter. As a result, the game is a beautiful and impactful experience.
It is for this reason Inner Ashes is awarded the Thumb Culture Platinum Award