Very few games leave a lasting impression. Six years ago a small developer known as Playdead burst onto the scene with a monochromatic puzzle game called Limbo; people still talk about it today. It didn’t reinvent the wheel as far as game design goes, but its ambiguity and level of polish kept people playing, and more importantly, talking about it. The developer has been quietly working on a follow-up, and it has finally been unleashed. Again shrouded in mystery, INSIDE is a game that has people talking, and for good reason.
Much like Limbo, INSIDE is a puzzle platformer with a very unique art style, along with feeling extremely polished. Characters are presented without faces, the game is extremely dark, both in tone and in color, and everything about the story is left to interpretation. The ending of this game left me simply wondering what I had just experienced. I wanted to discuss it with people, but most importantly I never let off the gas once I started playing.
Platforms: PC, XB1
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
This three-hour adventure is the perfect length. The puzzles are rarely challenging, in fact there is only one that even made me pause to think about the solution, but it didn’t matter. They were just challenging enough to keep me interested, and wanting to know where my character ended up, and why they were doing what they were, pushed me through.
Now, it cannot be ignored that Playdead has a theme about their games. Both Limbo and INSIDE feature a young-looking character, and said character ends up on the wrong side of some truly brutal deaths. These are extremely uncomfortable. Watching an adult figure strangle, or even drown my character made me cringe. Seeing them strung out and dragged across the floor by a taser, or even mauled by a rabid dog are all evoking an emotion I don’t like. Needless to say if anyone has kids, these deaths really disturb.
Everything about INSIDE is haunting, every areas begs questions as to why is my character here, what are these lifeless things, why does everyone want me dead? The ambience and mood the game sets are terrifying at times, and it certainly delivers an emotional experience. Playdead creates some of the most truly atmospheric games out there.
While I enjoyed my time with the game, when portions are stripped away, this is still a fairly simplistic puzzle game. Nothing ever tests the fabric of game design, but instead opts for a more polished approach. Every animation is carefully detailed, and each area designed with visual hints. There is no tutorial, no explanation, and no text to guide players along. There are only two buttons, jump and interact, everything else is up to experimentation.
Visually the game is extremely unsettling and beautiful. Every area feels depressing and dark, and that is by design. As I mentioned earlier every animation feels poetic in motion. Watching my character stumble after jumping over a log, or swim with fury while being chased, all work so well. The soundtrack is also eerily atmospheric. The developers at Playdead have honed their craft in presenting the most macabre of settings.
INSIDE is a fantastic experience. The puzzles are a bit rudimentary at times and the story is almost too outlandish and confusing to describe. It is almost impossible to discuss the game without talking about what makes it special. Do yourself a favor, play this game, I guarantee immediately upon finishing it, you will want to talk to someone, if for nothing else but to just see their face and say “WTF just happened.” Yes it is one of those games.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.
This game was reviewed on an ORIGIN PC
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z87N
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel Core i7 4770K Quad-Core
- Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600 MHz
- Graphics Card: Single NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN (6GB)