🎮 Invercity

2023年 6月 26日
Indie Tsushin 2023 June-July issueThis article was featured in our 2023 June-July issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.
Japanese title screen of Invercity (さかだちの街)

When I was a child, I thought that blocking out the sun with my hands made the world darker for everyone. I thought that if I bent over and lifted up my feet with all my strength, I might be able to fly. But of course, this doesn't actually happen. My understanding of the natural world was not yet fully developed, and so my child mind was still free to roam wild, unconstrained by reality. As I learned more and grew older, I had to accept that my childish wonder had been pure fantasy. Eventually, I stopped having such thoughts altogether.

But what if there was a place where your childlike wonder still held sway over reality, and you could dream big without succumbing to the pessimism of adulthood? Maybe that place exists within video games.

Player exploring a cave filled with strange symbols floating around. News announcer reacting with surprise.

"Ah! What is this place?!"

Invercity is a puzzle-platformer by the developer team Marudice, and is set in a world ruled by delightful, childlike logic. When you do a handstand, doesn't it look like you're holding on to the earth and everything else flips upside-down? That is not the case in real life, but here, it makes perfect logical sense. Thus, whenever your character does a handstand, gravity reverses and objects fall up into the sky. You play as a precocious child wandering through the city, and your exploits are being broadcast live with an astonished news anchor commentating on this apparently supernatural phenomena.

News announcer flipping the game monitor.

Stepping on certain buttons in the world activates special abilities, like getting the announcer to flip the news monitor and turn the world upside-down.

Later, players get another skill that breaks, or rather flips, the fourth wall. Up until that point, only the player character flipped, and surrounding objects fell up. But this new skill has the announcer flipping the news monitor upside down, and it is the player themself who must see the world from a different perspective. The logic of the game starts playing with reality in interesting and fun ways.

Player standing next to a giant house-shaped crate. NPCs are scattered around doing everyday activities like reading newspapers or exercising.

The puzzles start off simple and gradually ramp up in difficulty.

Mastering these abilities is crucial to clearing all the levels in Invercity. If you only play through the main story puzzles, they are easy to solve and guide you through the basics. But as you progress through the game, new challenge puzzles will unlock that will really test your abilities and puzzle prowess. Meanwhile, the banter between the announcer and player character is charming and cute, and helped to relax my frazzled brain.

Player doing a handstand inside a C-shaped block and falling upwards through a shopping mall.

In our world, we use the escalator to get to top floor of a shopping mall. In Invercity, we ride C blocks.

We originally played Invercity, then known only by its Japanese name さかだちの街, Sakadachi no Machi, when it was a Unity 1 Week entry for 「逆」. Even as a short jam entry, you could see the love and care that went into building this world. The pixel art graphics are colorful and bright, and the simple controls make it easy to dive right in. Since its original inception, Invercity has grown to include more characters, levels, artwork, and abilities. It has been a real joy seeing this game get the love and attention that it frankly deserves.

Player doing a handstand while the monitor is upside-down. In the background is the vast night sky with shooting stars.

The world is beautiful and fun. Don't you wish you could live here?

Playing the full release on the Nintendo Switch was like being transported back to my childhood, when friends would gather around the television and work through puzzles together. The world-flipping handstand ability is not terribly unlike the sort of logic we used to believe in our youth. In more ways than one, Invercity is a truly nostalgic game, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Get the full release of Invercity on Steam or Nintendo Switch. Play the original jam version in your browser on Unity Room or download it from itch. Follow Marudice on Twitter @dice_maru and find more of their work on their homepage.