Inside (2016) Game Review

Playdead’s latest game, Inside, is a dark puzzle platformer about a boy that starts off in a forest and pushes forward to realize that there are lots and lots of secrets to discover on this journey. The question here is what is the end goal of his adventure and is it worth our time? Here’s our review.

Inside is a true gaming experience. Some might say it is the spiritual successor of Limbo despite not being related in story at all. However, Inside is wrapped up with the same themes from Playdead’s first game. It features a boy that runs around in dark and suspicious corners surrounded constantly with danger, dying over and over again. It is almost obvious that Playdead has an obsessions with child endangerment and mind control. However, whatever their fascination is, it is also wildly obvious that they are masters at crafting a compelling atmosphere. On top of that, they are meant for greatness as Inside improves on all the flaws that Limbo caused while remaining equally challenging and detailed.

Inside – First 20 minutes

One of the main things that shines in Inside is the story, or perhaps the lack of one preemptively set up. Inside has no narration. The story is created through the progression of the game and the boy’s discovery and observations. In many ways, the player ourselves craft our own theory of the story, especially when we reach the ending. The theories floating around are endless. The point is that the power of a great game is its ability to keep all its players interested in continuing to guess and talk about it hours after. Perhaps even go back to collect the orbs and uncover the secret ending.

We are constantly surprised by how the simplest gameplay mechanics help elevate a game. Inside is no different. We can make the boy walk or run, jump and grab/move objects. You don’t need to be an expert gamer to play Inside. This aspect not only helps the players be more immersed in noticing the little details in the environment and decipher the story unfolding but also constantly mesmerizes us on how the little details can make or break finding the solution of a puzzle. Talking about puzzles, some of these are going to be trial and error, others will be timing but most of all, observing the surroundings. While Inside can be played by almost everyone, don’t let it fool you because there are heart pounding, stressful and extremely intense sequences. There are all sorts of cruel ways that the boy can die and the dangers he encounters usually lead to gruesome deaths.

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We have mentioned it a few times already about the emphasis on details in Inside. Perhaps we can say that Playdead is also great at subtlety. The environment and the music both holds those small sounds. There is almost no other music except for when puzzles are solved correctly and even those aren’t always apparent. What is so fascinating about Inside and its sounds are that they sit in the background. For example, the outdoor sequences will have incredibly authentic rain sounds hitting the ground and water, the boy will walk on different surfaces and have seemingly different sounds and most of all abrupt faint to loud noises emit from our actions or make us question what else is next.

Inside is a dark and bleak adventure but one that is done incredibly well. It plays on themes of child endangerment and mind control. It creates a mysterious story with no narration. It uses subtlety brilliantly. Most of all, it creates a story that immerses its audience with visually appealing settings and environments and simple game mechanics while keeping the puzzles challenging but never frustrating. It is a game we highly recommend.

Inside (2016)

Game Credits

Developer: Playdead
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, Windows
Mode: Single-player

4.5

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