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INSPIRE Review (Steam Early Access) | Uninspiring But Not Unfixable

Value for Money
$ 13
Clear Time:
4 Hours
INSPIRE is a shooter that suffers the fate of not having much going for it to begin with and having what little it can present be shackled by clunky game mechanics and so-so storytelling. It’s not a dreg at the bottom of the proverbial barrel, but I don’t see much of a future for this game, not as it is now. This game will have to go through some major streamlining to be viable, but the building blocks are there, it's only a matter of putting them together in a more inspired way.

INSPIRE Review Overview

What is INSPIRE?


INSPIRE is a top-down bullet-hell shooter where you play as a gun-toting Collector for your corporation. Although your average Collector mostly does odd jobs for people around Realle—your home city—you’re going to be the only one going against an entire alien invasion.

It’s going to be you and your standard-issue collector’s backpack against beings from another world as you fire barrages of beams, bullets, and missiles at their extraterrestrial heinies. Collect powerful abilities as you traverse an ever-changing low-poly terrain. Fight powerful bosses and keep shooting INSPIRE other collectors and militia units around you to fight back against the alien menace.

INSPIRE features:
 ⚫︎ Awesome futuristic visuals
 ⚫︎ Dynamic 3D Environments
 ⚫︎ Fast-paced top-down shooting action
 ⚫︎ Great ambient audio
 ⚫︎ Diverse weaponry with simple crafting mechanics

For more gameplay details, read everything we know about INSPIRE's gameplay and story.

xxx Platform IconSteam $13.49

INSPIRE Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Smooth Controls and Clean Combat
Checkmark Questionable UI Elements
Checkmark Clunky Consumables
Checkmark Barely a Tutorial to Speak Of

INSPIRE Overall Score - 66/100

INSPIRE is a shooter that suffers the fate of not having much going for it to begin with and having what little it can present be shackled by clunky game mechanics and so-so storytelling. It’s not a dreg at the bottom of the proverbial barrel, but I don’t see much of a future for this game, not as it is now. This game will have to go through some major streamlining to be viable, but the building blocks are there, it's only a matter of putting them together in a more inspired way.

INSPIRE Story - 6/10

INSPIRE’s narrative commits a storytelling sin that’s more punishable than just being outright horrible because bad stories can still be memorable. This game’s story is just plain average, not even worth remembering. That’s not to say that its premise and world-building are equally bad as they are actually quite serviceable. It’s just a matter of a boring story from an okay world.

INSPIRE Gameplay - 6/10

INSPIRE’s gameplay is a jumbled mess of smooth and clunky mechanics trying to coexist in the same space. On one hand, the game’s combat and movement mechanics blend together to create a fun, tempo-driven experience. On the other, the game’s clunky consumables, uninspired crafting, and odd implementation of rewards jam up whatever fun could be had.

INSPIRE Visuals - 7/10

INSPIRE’s low-poly futuristic vibe is quite fitting despite how rudimentary some of the models look in close-ups. It’s a stylistic choice that doesn’t take away from the gameplay, although the odd, not-quite-isometric angle of the camera does. There’s also the case of a few questionable UI elements involving possibly ai-generated art, although whether that’s truly a bad thing remains up for debate.

INSPIRE Audio - 7/10

INSPIRE’s SFX and OST are both appropriate to the setting and effective in delivering the vibes and ambiance such a setting would entail. The gun firing sounds for ballistic and energy weapons are crisp enough to pierce through the cacophony of your target’s cries, which I think is a nice touch. Sadly, the odd implementation of the game’s voice acting makes it feel a lot cheaper than it ought to.

INSPIRE Value for Money - 7/10

The game is unfinished and could do with a lot more refining but a $13 asking price isn't the worst thing in the world at this stage of development. It'd give me pause, that's for sure, but I wouldn't be too beat-up about spending that much money to fund a product that has the makings of a good game.

INSPIRE Review: Uninspiring But Not Unfixable


Early access games are hard to gauge sometimes because there’s no promise of the future regardless of how the game initially performs. Sometimes, all the hype overtakes the game’s original scope and causes long-term problems for its development. Other times, such as in the case of INSPIRE, there simply isn’t enough to work with in the first place.

I’ll try to go as in-depth as I can with this review but—just to manage expectations—there’s not much to talk about, and what little we do have isn’t the best. And while INSPIRE would benefit from further development, I still can’t fathom it getting very far regardless. That’s neither here nor there at the moment, however, so let’s start this review with the game’s finer points and work our way down.


INSPIRE is a top-down shooter where you use various ballistic and energy firearms to fight back against an alien invasion. You do this with your shapeshifting backpack, which grants you, among other abilities, a jetpack to fly with, a flashlight, and a means to modify standard weaponry. You start as a Collector for Collector Corp., doing odd fetch quests and adventure RPG-worthy extermination missions before the alien menace rides in and forces you to rise to the occasion.

Right off the bat, this is an okay premise. I know of other early access titles—indie or otherwise—who’ve managed to pop off with much less to work with than this (Slay the Spire and The Binding of Isaac come to mind). Of course, one cool idea does not a great game make, and unfortunately, INSPIRE kind of fumbled the backpack with its execution.


I say "kind of" because the game isn’t some irredeemable mess—it’s actually quite fun in a vacuum—it just has a few clunky gameplay mechanics that knock it down a peg or three. We’ll get to those later. For now, let’s talk about what makes it somewhat fun: it’s gunplay. INSPIRE’s shooting mechanics are simple and effective. Click to shoot, right-click to aim, middle mouse button to reload; easy-peasy.

While I question the utility of a middle mouse button reload, you can just rebind it, so it’s not too much of an issue. Guns can be bought from Reall’s local market using credits, which you can find while out and about in the wilds. You can also gain credits by selling valuable items gained from killing powerful monsters. In addition to newer, better guns, you can modify your firearms using two modifications that can similarly be found in the wilds. Together, these mechanics make a smooth and reliable backbone upon which the game can build. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Instead, we get the rest of the game’s combat kit, which excels more in dragging its best mechanic in the mud than supplementing it.


I’m talking about the game’s oddly Skyrim-esque approach towards its consumables. I kid you not, you can do the " eat 500 cheese wheels to get full health" Skyrim meme in this game by chugging…Moose Meat. It’s great in a pinch, but it slows down the tempo of a gunfight so much that I often find myself unprepared for the next barrage whenever I unpause the game, causing me to immediately lose any healing I just got.

Maybe there was a way to assign consumables to a Hotbar, but it sure as heck was not communicated well, along with much of the game’s other mechanics, like why there are two ways to modify a gun and what the difference is between them. The tutorial only tells you how to move, the rest you have to learn by yourself as the game progresses.

Don’t even get me started on this game’s lack of quality of life. The sheer amount of menus and things to click just to prepare for the next fight irks me to no end. To make matters worse, I don’t think this game has an autosave feature, as I found my profile wiped when I closed and opened the game to test it. It could just be a bug, but that really doesn't help with the game's case.


Clunky gameplay and lack of quality of life aside, INSPIRE’s visuals are also a bit inconsistent. I’m a fan of the low-poly cyberpunk thing it has going on, so that’s not what I’m talking about. What I want to highlight are the images used for the game’s abilities, gun mods, and achievements, which all look like they were AI-generated. Granted, I can’t prove that they were, nor is it necessarily a bad thing if they were, I just don’t see it advertised anywhere and, frankly, it clashes with the rest of the UI.

As for the music and sounds, I can’t complain. It’s nice, it’s fast, the tempo’s perfect for combat, and I enjoy a lot of the environmental sounds I hear while out and about in the city. Things like vendors calling, patrol bots calling me "citizen", cars beeping, and whatnot. I think that the game wasted an opportunity to have full voice acting, but that can come later as it is still in Early Access.


I’ll conclude this brief rundown of INSPIRE’s ups and downs with a lamentation for its future. The game has something going for it but it simply isn’t enough, even if the shackles of its clunkiness weren’t present. The developer will have to overhaul a lot of things to make this game worthwhile, and that’s in addition to fixing what’s flawed about it already. I suppose not everyone can be the next Toby Fox and knock it out of the park with one fell swoop, but I hold out hope that inspiration for a better game is on its way. We all know what they say about long journeys and single-steps, after all.


Things INSPIRE Got Right
Checkmark Smooth Controls and Clean Combat

Smooth Controls and Clean Combat


As I said earlier, this game has a lot of issues, but its running and gunning aren’t among them. The transition from laying someone out with buckshot and backflipping into a jetpack soar is simply too smooth for me to contend. I wish the rest of the game’s mechanics were as fun but I’ll take what I can get.

The game has a lot of variety when it comes to guns and the modifications you can apply to them as well, which I think is a very nice touch. I've played other games like Wizard with a Gun, Neon Abyss, and Enter the Gungeon before so trust in me when I say that variety is king when it comes to shooters like these.


Things That INSPIRE Can Improve
Checkmark Questionable UI Elements
Checkmark Clunky Consumables
Checkmark Barely a Tutorial to Speak Of

Questionable UI Elements


I touched on this topic briefly during the main review, but let’s discuss it further here. Some of the game’s UI elements, namely its images for abilities, modifiers, and achievements, look suspiciously like they were generated through AI. I say this because they clash horribly with the rest of the game’s UI and even with each other. The lack of an artistic throughline between the images apart from their framing leads me to that conclusion, undesirable as it is.

Not to beg the notion that the game is using AI-generated images, of course, although I do think it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I only wish to point it out because, well, AI-generated or not, some of them are thematic eyesores that just don’t fit in. I'm willing to accept them as placeholder art for the time being as the game is in early access still. Moving forward, however, I'd be disappointed if these images made it to the final build.

Clunky Consumables


This one grinds my gears in particular because I am someone who appreciates momentum in action and shooter games. Think of the game Dead Cells, which sees to your character’s momentum by having mechanics in place that encourage and reward non-stop aggression. This game’s clunky consumables—which are two menus away from the pause screen and a tab away from the inventory screen, mind you—kill its momentum the moment you get low on health and/or energy.

To make matters worse, it also makes the game a lot easier if you’re okay with cheesing it, as the inventory screen also pauses the combat a la Skyrim. I wasn’t kidding with the "500 cheese wheels" meme. A hotbar would be nice, along with a more diverse array of consumables that do more than just heal, give energy, armor, etc.

Barely a Tutorial to Speak Of


And I mean it too. This game teaches you how to walk and interact before throwing you into Realle like a babe in the wind. Granted, you don’t need to shoot until you reach the wilderness outside of town, but that only works if you can’t get to the wilderness otherwise. I found myself wandering the wilds without a gun for a while, convinced that this was the right way to go despite having passed the game’s tutorial area 5 minutes ago.

I only realized this when I checked the game’s quest tracker, which is minuscule and indecipherable, especially in the heat of battle. Progression in this game is a nightmare at times and I don’t think there’s enough infrastructure yet to consider this game’s tutorial worth my time.

Is INSPIRE Worth It?

Better You Wait for The Full Release


INSPIRE isn't asking for a lot at the moment but it isn't offering much in return either. Such is the nature of a game still under construction, but that's not inherently a problem. It's entertaining enough that a $13 price tag isn't the most egregious, but I'd be more willing to pay that much when the game is fully fleshed out.

Platform Price
xxx Platform IconSteam $13.49


Who Created the Music for INSPIRE?

The music of INSPIRE was made by Nick Housmans, an electronic music DJ from The Netherlands who is also the game’s sole developer.

How Do I Gain More Credits in INSPIRE?

Credits can be found in the wilderness surrounding Realle in small boxes, bags, or interactable items. You can also gain more credits by selling off unneeded guns and valuable items in the market.

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INSPIRE Product Information

Release Date April 12, 2024
Developer Nick Housmans
Publisher Husman Games
Supported Platforms PC Steam
Genre Action, Shooter
Number of Players 1
ESRB Rating RP
Official Website N/A


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