In between great and terrible lies a land… a land full of mediocrity.
Inbetween Land is one of those games that will either draw players in or lose them entirely based on its story alone. It places you in the role of an average woman, sent to a floating island in the sky where she’s challenged to save her comatose best friend, whose sprit is inexplicably floating around. Still with me? Moving on: crystals are hidden behind locked doors, magical panels or within crypts, and colorful alien ghosts will guide you through the collection of these shards to eventually save the day…and send the floating island…back…to space?
Beyond a test of your suspension of disbelief, Inbetween Land is a test of your patience. From the get go, the storyline proves nonsensical, disappointing, and hard to buy into long enough to form connective tissue with the gameplay. Speaking of which, the majority of your time with Inbetween Land will be spent making your way through linear, isolated groups of environments as you track down five separate crystals, one at a time. Since we’re in the sky, though, we may as well look for a silver lining. In this game’s case, uninspired plotting and overly inspired writing are at least complemented with a mildly engaging take on the genre’s puzzles.
Fragmented hidden object scenes give you images of items that you’ll need to find scattered about a single scene. Once you find all of the missing pieces for a particular tool or item, it’s placed back into the environment in an interactive context. These scenes work well; they feel cohesive, unique and are arguably the main highlights of Inbetween Land. Unfortunately, as the game continues, they may prove to be the only highlights.
In between fragmented object scenes, you’ll collect dozens of “key items,” that are scattered around environments, but will only be given the slightest of opportunities to combine these items into something more useful. Especially after completing the more innovative fragmented object scenes, this gives the game a jilted, almost lazy feeling. Worse still, the puzzles that emerge are too often repetitious tile-sliding or rotation tests.
While these “challenges” fail to hit a difficult sweet spot for pros, it should be noted that this may actually be a good thing for players that are looking for a more casual experience. What definitely isn’t a good thing, however, is the game’s incredibly short length, as you can make your way from beginning to end in less than two hours on the game’s easiest difficulty setting. Functionally, there are also some click recognition and mouse-movement-speed issues within some of the game’s puzzles, as the game makes clicking and dragging some tiles an incredibly slow-moving experience.
Ultimately, Inbetween Land suffers right out of the gate from an over-the-top storyline that I can’t see hooking even the most forgiving or imaginative. And while the fragmented object scenes perform well, and the comic book-inspired graphics prove quite lovely throughout, there’s simply not enough content, puzzle variety, or cohesion here to warrant an immediate purchase. Like the the title says, stay in between on this one: try before you buy, and proceed with caution.