Playdead is a small Danish indie studio whose first game Limbo received critical acclaim for its unique nightmarish art-style and cleverly designed platforming puzzles - Inside is its spiritual successor that builds on what made Limbo great to make Inside even better.
The game opens to the title screen overlaying a dimly lit forest: “Inside” in bold red over the dull greens, browns, and greys of the woods. Press X and the title fades away, and our protagonist, a young boy with no distinctive features save for his red shirt, slides into frame from atop a boulder. Then you start running. And sneaking. And hiding. At first you don’t really know why, but the reasons you do this become more and more clear the further you travel into the world of Inside.
The world is in shambles. Perhaps there was a pandemic, or some sort of calamity in the recent past, and, though the details are foggy, it’s very obvious that something’s not right. Something happened, and is still happening, but what? Men wearing black suits and white masks pack trucks full of passive human beings; carting them off like cattle – taking them where, you don’t know. Lines of lifeless men and women marching forward hunched over in defeat are watched over by machines and other masked individuals.
The environmental story telling is unparalleled. There is no dialogue, no journals to read, and rarely is there any music (save for the distant humming and pounding of machinery), but the story that the world tells through its grim dystopia is one of the bests in recent memory. The ending especially will leave you searching for answers that may not be so concrete, and will have you thinking about it for weeks afterwards. All I want to do is spoil it for you, and talk about it – please go play the game so we can talk about it! Please!
The overall gameplay is fairly simple and easy. The platforming consists of running from enemies, jumping from ledge to ledge, avoiding spotlights and detection – nothing new to the genre, but the character and environment animations are executed supremely. The puzzles aren’t all that difficult either, but are extremely fun to complete. The difficulty took a back seat this time around compared to Limbo, but is still balanced enough to trip you up on occasion. I didn’t die nearly as much as I did in Limbo, but when I did.. it was brutal. I’ve drown, been gunned down, strangled, mauled by dogs, fallen to my death, and more. Let me remind you that you play as a child.. and all these horrible things happen to you. And It only gets worse. Although dying simply resets the section you are in it still feels impactful, and adds to the tension when just barely escaping death. Running from a pack of dogs to jump off a ledge at the last minute is exhilarating and terrifying – it’ll get your adrenaline going.
Inside is an excellent game that is so far my favorite of 2016. Hands Down. I am head over heels for it. The dark, monochromatic level designs, and mysterious environmental storytelling will embed themselves into your brain. You won’t stop thinking about what you just experienced, and will want to dive right back into it all over again. The gameplay itself may not be all that challenging, but it honestly doesn’t matter – even the simple puzzles are extremely satisfying to complete. It’s not a perfect game, but it’s a brilliantly crafted experience that’ll stay with me for a long time.
I played inside on PS4 (available on the PS4 Digital Store), but the game is also available on XB1 and PC platforms. Seriously go check out the game for just $19.99. I need someone to talk about this with! Leave a comment if you’ve played it! I NEED TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT THIS GAME!!!
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Cory couldn't think of a self-deprecating joke to put here this time.. cuz he's an idiot. Follow him on Twitter for really bad jokes.