Inside is the second game that Danish developer Playdead Studios has released with their previous work being one of the first popular games of the “indie genre,” Limbo. Six years later and they have released a game that seems initially similar only to go in a different and odd direction.
Inside is a 2D platformer set in a 3D world with a couple of 2.5D elements. Most of the gameplay consists of solving environmental puzzles, a few stealth sections and some interesting things having to do with some technology in the game that connects the character to others in his world. I don’t want to say what that is as that was a great surprise playing through the game myself. However, that’s pretty much it. There are only two buttons used and the joystick.
Story and Modes:
This game is completely centered on story-telling and the single-player is the only mode so this section will be short as it is the reason to play the game. There is no set-up whatsoever as you control a boy running through the forest avoiding what seems to be some sort of police force out to find you. There is no dialogue in the game and the storytelling is almost entirely environmental. Playdead leaves the door open for you to interpret the events of the game how you like.
For me, the notion of a small boy running through the German countryside during WWII came to mind avoiding patrols and dogs. Is that what is actually happening? Well it was in my game. That kind of freedom to create the story in your head is empowering. However, the ending does stumble from being a little too open-ended for its own good.
Visuals and Sound:
This game’s art direction is gorgeous. The world is largely consists of grays and blacks conveying a sense of melancholy to the proceedings. But a couple of times throughout the game, you will exit a building and see either a sunrise or sunset adding light and hope to what seems like a hopeless dystopian land. It is not strictly silhouettes like Limbo was with you being able to actually see features of characters and locations. This game is dark both visually and tonally throughout the adventure.
The sound design is stellar which is odd to say as there is barely any sound at all. Music is almost non-existent which is great at keeping you immersed in the empty and cold world. The boy’s footsteps and breathing will be most of what you hear for the whole game. However, when you do hear something else like a dog barking or a door opening, its sudden presence can be startling adding to the atmosphere even further.
Inside is a great example of how not all games need to be original to be great. Limbo, at the time of its release, was original with the stark artstyle and foreboding atmosphere becoming its most well-known features. It’s spiritual successor builds upon everything that Limbo did so well and did it better whether it’s the fluidity of the gameplay, the visual aesthetic or the pacing.
Inside takes between 3-5 hours to complete. There are some collectibles to find, but beyond that there is no incentive to go back and play through besides the fact that it is a lot of fun. While the ending is a little bit too open-ended, the journey getting there was great and one that is worth the asking price.