Ina is a girl who is trapped in a tower asleep, and she suddenly wakes up. Her goal is to find a way out and figure out why she was imprisoned in the first place. This is a side-scrolling platforming game filled with progression based puzzles (where you cannot move on until you solved it and there’s no turning back). You must figure out how to traverse using different colored shapes that float around you that can be inserted into objects. Each area that contains these shapes and puzzles are different, and once you have them all you will be combining their uses for more complex tests of your wits. This is a very casual game, where you have no time limit and doesn’t make you fight anything. There are just a few scenes where you must run away from any type of enemy. If you do happen to die, typically from falling, you will be loaded back to a checkpoint which are spread out generously. Time to sit back and relax, and enjoy a game that won’t take much time to complete.

Here’s what I liked:

Beautiful Atmosphere — There’s no denying the whole game is done with love and care. All of the visuals were very appeasing, from the character design to the reflections and colors. Ina looks great in her bright blue outfit with long red hair, which makes her easy to track on screen as you’re jumping. Shadows, lightning, and the neon colors were just about perfect for the atmosphere. The way the light shines through the windows of the tower were my favorite parts of the game. Each area was different and interesting, giving you something to look forward with progression, and did not copy and paste previous sections for the sake of saving time in design. Every new frame you went into was different from the last, offering more pretty scenery to look at. Not only is it pleasing to the eyes, but also the ears. The music is equally masterful, giving you a sense of calmness that one could fall asleep to if they closed their eyes just to listen.

Right Level of Difficulty — Platforming in Aspire is quite easy, never requiring pixel perfect jumps or timing. There is more of an emphasis on solving puzzles, which do require a bit more timing.Though not irritating, there were a few puzzles that just took some time to figure out. You use shapes and insert them into specific objects to make them do an action. The circle lights up and destroys darkness (or activates terminals), the square grows a block that you can jump on, and the triangle moves platforms around. With each area, you get used to how these objects work and then they are all combined into several puzzles later in the last sections of the game. There is some trial and error, but that’s what makes it fun and gives a feeling of accomplishment once you have finally completed it. Until of course, you take a few steps and there’s another one to solve!

Short but Sweet Some games overstay their welcome, but Aspire seems to be just the right amount of time. Being able to complete the game in one sitting allows people without much free time, the possibility of completing a game instead of taking multiple breaks where they have to try to figure out what they were doing days before. In just over three hours, you can complete the whole story. I’m glad they didn’t make it any shorter, however I would not have minded one more section with a different shape for new types of puzzles. More of a good thing is always welcome, just not too much more.

Here’s what I didn’t like:

Hard to Understand Story — Your character just wakes up and suddenly you’re playing the game. There are no introductions or cut-scenes, so you really only get information from talking to a few characters scattered throughout two areas. Those characters don’t really tell you a whole lot and it seems like it could have been a more enjoyable experience if I knew exactly what my goal was or why I was there. This question never really seems answered. The idea of a tower you’re locked in feeding off your dreams while you sleep is a neat concept, but I believe it could have gone in a more interesting direction than just “it’s what’s happening, deal with it”. There’s no history behind it on how it came to be. I can appreciate the fact Ina is escaping herself and not just waiting around to be saved by someone else. I guess the story just feels more like a chapter in a book than having an actually beginning and ending. Unless I’m missing some point where it is a dream inside a dream.

Movement Awkwardness While most of the movement is clean, there are a few questionable times where you think you had forgotten how to do certain things. Jumping is fluid and the puzzles work well with how they interact with the environment. However, turning seems to be clunky and often times if you’re too close to an object you can’t turn unless you walk in the opposite direction first. When you are trying to put in the shapes or take them out, it seems like there isn’t a consistency with how long you hold the buttons. Climbing works well, but when you have to swing from one rope to another by moving your body forward and backwards, it always seems like you just barely make it. It would be easy to look at a reminder in the controls section, but that is absent from the menu and you can’t see the layout anywhere.


The game looks great, having a seemingly perfect choices in coloring and lightning. The music is void from being annoying and is so constant it sinks into your mind without you realizing it’s still in the background. Puzzles are casual but at the same time thought-provoking, giving you a sense of accomplishment when you finally figure out you were just overthinking things. I really liked the way the game handled jumping, but not so much with turning and putting in/taking out the shapes for the puzzles. They make you pause for a second and wonder what you’re doing wrong, which takes away from the otherwise great flow. You don’t have to worry about sinking hours into this title, as it’s short and allows those who don’t have much time to finish it in an evening. For those that have more time, it might have been nice to have another section of puzzles thrown in. A lot of the ending is the same chase sequence with what could be considered a boss, but there are little breaks between that allow you to go back to doing some puzzles. I really enjoyed my playthrough and even going back to do some of the areas over again to finish up on my achievements was quite welcoming.

Score: Highly Recommended

Aspire – Ina’s Tale was published by Untold Tales and developed by Wondernaut Studios on Xbox One. It was released on December 16 2021, for $12.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.