Inside from Playdead Studios – What We Think:
I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that Inside, created by the developers of Limbo, is not a game which sets out to incite mirth and good cheer. Inside is a new platformer title from Playdead Studios, and once again they have used the genre to tell an abstract, oppressive and deeply atmospheric story that manages to be engaging on numerous levels.
How Low Can You Go?
It’s fair to say that anyone who has played Limbo will recognize certain traits immediately after launching Inside. The game’s aesthetic is similarly bleak, and the protagonist is once again a child who can come to a wide variety of horrendous deaths at even the smallest misstep. There is no introduction to Inside, no tutorial and no dialogue whatsoever, but nonetheless I found its setting and implied narrative immediately gripping.
The subtle delivery of context and backstory present in Inside is in the tradition of some of gaming’s most noteworthy storytelling titles. I actually found myself thinking of Half Life 2 and its seminal use of mise en scène when playing Inside. This is probably as much to do with the setting of the game as its means of storytelling; Inside also takes place in the tattered wreckage of a dystopian world just barely holding together.
The Trudge Report
A desperately sad, broken world slowly unfolded as I explored each new area of Inside. Lines of mindless human forms being slowly marched to an unknown fate, dimly lit concrete husks leading down into murky waters inhabited by mysterious dangers; Inside’s landscape is nothing short of inspired. Simultaneously dreary and compelling, Inside’s world is a massive jigsaw puzzle which serves as motivation to constantly push through its more prosaic riddles.
The action of Inside is split between nail-biting attempts to evade the many dangers of its world and logic puzzles. These puzzles are all well designed, but I found some of them dragged on a bit, and I was pushing through them more because of my desire to see the next part of Inside’s twisted world rather than for the enjoyment of the puzzle itself.
I was far more engaged by the animate dangers of Inside: bloodthirsty hounds, masked humans who aggressively subdue the protagonist on sight and other, more insidious threats. Like the game itself, some of the enemies of Inside inspire as much curiosity as they do horror.
For all its bleakness, Inside is a truly beautiful game. Its dark, malformed world is stunning to behold. Perhaps more importantly the sound design of Inside is incredible; ominous noises hail the arrival of each new environment and each noise is linked to some obstacle or danger lying ahead. The music is similarly evocative, but it’s restrained enough to only chime in where it matters; underscoring a particular emotion or fresh revelation.
If it isn’t obvious by now, I was quickly enchanted by Inside’s unique – if grim – mood. Its macabre world and compelling mysteries are some of the best I’ve seen in a video game in some time, and whilst the game only lasts for a few hours, it’s more than worth the investment for the singular experience it offers. Inside doesn’t promise that you’ll walk away smiling, but it evokes more rarefied emotions, and sometimes that is a more valuable offering.
Inside is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Inside below: