Review – Aspire: Ina’s Tale

Stories can be told in many different ways. You can experience the horrors of war through games like Halo Infinite and Call of Duty: Vanguard. You can go on more sweet and wholesome journeys, like those found in A Short Hike and To the Moon. Sometimes you’ll even get a particularly unconventional type of story, like that found in Thomas Was Alone. Regardless of how it’s delivered, a good narrative is always appreciated in games, and Wondernaut Studios’ Aspire: Ina’s Tale is no exception.

Aspire: Ina's Tale Embryos

Giant embryos being housed in a metallic fortress? Are we in The Matrix?

In Aspire: Ina’s Tale you play as the titular character, Ina. She is a young girl who has been held prisoner in a mysterious tower that feeds on people’s dreams. After waking up, she embarks on a journey to discover who she is as well as the secrets of the tower. She’ll occasionally encounter other prisoners and will have to help them in order to learn about them and their ties to both the tower and herself.

The story unfolds in a surprisingly organic nature, especially considering Aspire: Ina’s Tale is a 2D puzzle platformer. The whole game takes place within the strange tower, which is a curious blending of metal, stone, and living organic material. Aside from her proper name of Ina, our protagonist is also referred to as “the heart”. This is the first clue that there is more to Ina than meets the eye, which is further confirmed as she learns that she can harness the power of light energy.

Aspire: Ina's Tale Joker and Thief

So I’ll tell you a little story about the Joker and the Thief in the night.

The mystery of the tower is further showcased with nearly every screen being covered in curious runes along the walls and stone structures. Being someone who loves decoding messages and ciphers, this aspect of the game greatly intrigued me. Although, I must give a word of warning: don’t bother deciphering the runes. Once I began noticing the markings on the walls, I decided to write them down for further reference in case I learned how to read them later.

After a while, I came across a giant wall of runic messages, which was when I decided to decode them. I spent nearly an hour figuring out the cipher and translating all the messages, only to discover that the game would then decide to automatically translate the messages for me from that point on. I felt a bit stupid and let down for wasting my time on it at that point.


So much time wasted decoding this wall and many, many other messages in runes throughout the tower.

However, disappointment for not having my decoding skills matter aside, Aspire: Ina’s Tale is a lot of fun. Along the way, Ina will meet other characters, mostly fellow prisoners of the tower. Helping them escape or resolve a problem they’re having will unlock their memories, giving you a better insight into what is going on. This is how much of the story in Aspire: Ina’s Tale is revealed.

The gameplay itself is your basic 2D puzzle platformer affair. Ina will have to swing across chains, jump onto platforms and ledges, move heavy blocks, and activate various levers. Although, there is a somewhat unique gimmick to Aspire: Ina’s Tale, being that she can harness balls of light energy. These help her activate various moving platforms, power up flying robot allies, and illuminate areas to keep the tower’s dark creatures at bay. The puzzles are fairly straightforward for the most part, however there were a couple puzzles that had me scratching my head for a moment. For the most part though, Aspire: Ina’s Tale isn’t a difficult game by any means.

Platform Puzzle

This platform puzzle might look simplistic, but timing everything was somewhat difficult.

The graphics are absolutely beautiful. The character designs and animations might not be the most complex, but the color palette is vibrant and dynamic, and each area is striking. There are several sections to the tower and each have their own distinct look. What really stands out though are the moments when the camera pulls back and shows sweeping, grandiose shots of the tower. Those instances are simply majestic and show the sheer scale of the tower itself.

As beautiful as the art design is in Aspire: Ina’s Tale, the sound design is its strongest area, in my opinion. There is no voice acting, as all dialogue is delivered through text boxes, but it’s not needed. The sound effects are convincing, especially the metallic clicks and whirs of the tower’s mechanisms, not to mention your robot guides. The growls and snarls of the beasts are wonderfully menacing as well. However, the musical score is the real champion here, being perfectly atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful at times.

Cherry Blossoms

There is some truly incredible imagery in Aspire: Ina’s Tale.

Aspire: Ina’s Tale was an engaging and delightful experience. That being said, don’t expect it to be a necessarily happy romp, as most of it is quite melancholy. The ending might not have been the biggest surprise, but the journey was well worth it. The characters, tone, atmosphere, and music made Aspire: Ina’s Tale a memorable adventure. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a more casual yet thought-provoking experience.


Graphics: 8.0

Gorgeous environments with sweeping cinematic sections.

Gameplay: 7.5

A 2D puzzle platformer that leans towards on the easier side of difficulty.

Sound: 9.5

The soundtrack is breathtakingly haunting and atmospheric.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The story unfolds beautifully, making for an engaging, yet casual experience.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Aspire: Ina’s Tale is available now on PC, Switch, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on PC with an i7-9700k, RTX 2070, and 16gb of RAM.

A copy of Aspire: Ina’s Tale was provided by the publisher.