Carl Jung posited the theory of individuation, in which the subconscious is instrumental in developing our conscious personalities. But what if our inner psyches are tormented by repressed horrors? This is precisely the terrifying scenario facing console gamers this summer when a port of The Inner Friend is released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox following its PC release last year.
Players are thrust into a "surreal world inspired by the psychology of childhood fears like the fear of abandonment and the fear of hospitals, which manifest themselves as nightmares." Led by a "mysterious Shadow," players must "dive into a subconscious universe to relive the Shadow’s childhood memories, collecting various artifacts to bring back to the bedroom and slowly rebuilding it as a protective safe haven." Beware, however, because "as you journey deeper into the subconscious, the gruesome materialized beings that inhabit this world draw ever closer as they fight to protect their very existence – imagined, yet quite powerfully manifested. Can you save the inner child and decipher the mystery?"
Presented in lifelike but abstract third-person 3D, The Inner Friend sends players into the "darkest corners" of a young man's mind, descending "always deeper, unraveling a rich but wordless story" throughout. Inspired not only by Jung but also katabsis – the "descent into one's own self" – as well as "'80s horror pop culture staples such as Poltergeist and the filmography of Stanley Kubrick," the game explores "complex emotional themes and the childhood psychology surrounding coping mechanisms to overcome traumatic experiences." In relying more on atmosphere than jump scares or overt danger (though there is some of that too), along the way there will be "many obstacles and puzzles to solve, themed after childhood games but made far more sinister."
Originally launched on PC back in September 2018, The Inner Friend will soon be coming to consoles, and with extra content to boot. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ports include a "new unlockable epilogue, sharing more from the game’s mysterious world," and are due to arrive sometime this summer.