Inherit the Earth is a fun adventure game where the animals rule

Posted: August 28, 2009 in Adventure, RPG

One of my favorite books as a kid was “Animal Farm”, a story dealing with political and socioeconomic issues in a world run by animals. In some ways, that’s what you have with Inherit the Earth, a newly released adventure game for the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. Set in a post-human, and decidedly medieval fantasy world where anthropomorphic animals now rule, Inherit the Earth incorporates the light-heartedness of a puzzle game within a brightly colorful world.

By anthropomorphic, I mean that the animals all walk and talk just like humans, and part of the back story is that humans taught these abilities to animals but soon disappeared from the face of the planet. The main story falls more in line with a Hardy Boys mystery and involves the primary characters Rif and his furry squeeze Rhene. Both are red foxes…literally speaking in this case…who belong to the Fox Tribe. All of the animals in the game belong to specific tribes each with their own likes and dislikes sometimes resulting in forest-related turf wars.

The bushy-tailed fox pair head off to a faire with other animal tribes and soon after arriving, Rif is accused of stealing the Orb of Storms, an object that can control the weather and be used for evil. That is where the story takes off with Rif venturing about looking for the true thief in order to clear his name. Just as in “Animal Farm”, the game uses stereotypes that really could serve as the basis for a sociology course. The Elk Tribe rules this world because they are noble and majestic, while the Lion Tribe is arrogant yet protective. The Boar Tribe is more lazy and lack common sense, while the Dog Tribe is more fun seeking and clownish. The Fox Tribe is seen as cunning yet deceitful which is really the basis for why the Boar Tribe accuses Rif of stealing the orb in the first place. The boars decide to hold Rif’s sweetheart Rhene hostage until he can locate the orb. Of course, there is plenty of mistrust among the tribes so Eeah, an elk and Okk, a boar accompany Rif on his journey.

Presented in 2D, the artwork is definitely a strong suit, although the animation can be a little pixelated. And the sound effects are really well done where you can hear rushing streams, buzzing bees, and rustling leaves. The game has a lot of charm from the medieval theme to the voiceovers of the various tribes. There’s definitely a good degree of personality, and you can tell that the devs put some effort into the rather well-written dialogue.

The controls are similar to those found in other games of this type such as Secrets of Monkey Island and Simon the Sorcerer, and are based on the verb system. A series of actions are provided at the bottom of the screen such as walk to, look at, pick up, and talk to among others, and you simply tap on the desired option. Once that is done, tap on the area or object with which to interact. For example, to pick up rocks, select “Pick up”, and then using either the magnification box or a pointer (you can toggle between the two controls options during the game), direct at the rocks. Text at the top of the screen will show when rocks have been selected. These types of controls generally take some practice, but shouldn’t take long. As with the other games, something that could’ve streamlined the “verb system” is the use of more general words such as “use”. While less descriptive, it could replace words such as “consume” and “pick up” while de-cluttering the screen. The game also has an inventory system where items can be stored and used later.

As with any adventure game, Inherit the Earth is about interactions and this homeward bound rag-tag team will meet other animals along the way. You can interact with characters and when choosing to talk to them, multiple responses appear at the bottom of the screen from which to choose from. Now, the game offers the option of turning off the voiceovers, but frankly, the voiceovers are what give the game its charm.

As for the gameplay, keep in mind that at the heart of Inherit the Earth are puzzles. While not overly difficult, they are fun and definitely fit within the progression of the story. Although they can be easy for advanced puzzlers, the puzzle variety is commendable and can range from fixing items and solving word games to getting out of a maze and finding hidden items among other things. In some cases, Rif will need the help of Eeah and Okk, so there’s enough to keep you engaged for hours. Along the journey, the game also provides hints of what may have happened to the humans which adds a bit of intrigue.

One of the things I’ve noticed with Inherit the Earth is that characters tend to do a lot of walking. There are instances where Rif and his animal gang walk what seem like multiple screens before anything happens. Also, the game can feel rushed in some places, and the story both early on and late in the game can feel disjointed, enough that I had no idea what I was doing or where I was headed in some cases.

Inherit the Earth is an entertaining adventure game, and while it has a few flaws, ultimately delivers a rewarding experience. If you like puzzlers with a somewhat interesting storyline or better yet, enjoy games such as Secret of Monkey Island and Simon the Sorcerer, then Inherit the Earth is an easy decision.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for fans of point and click adventure games or simply want a game with personality; easy to use controls and solid game should provide hours of gameplay)


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