Inside isn’t a game. Inside is a story.
Took me like a week to come up with that. Honest.. Ask Antonio.
Inside isn’t a bad experience by any means. On the contrary, I enjoyed (most) everything it had to offer. It looks beautiful, it’s a breeze to play, and most importantly, it’s thought provoking. I won’t talk about any story components because that is really 90% of what this game is. Also, I want to make this point now. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS (and strong language) AT THE END. Okay, now that we have cleared that up, let’s get into it.
Inside is Playdead’s next foray into the world of the, “Silent child protagonist who solves puzzles and dies a lot” genre. Following up their eerie 2010 hit, Limbo, the studio decided to take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach.” If you haven’t played Limbo, it’s not necessary to enjoy Inside, but you may have a better experience and understanding of what angle Playdead is taking with their creative direction. Although they are quite similar, Inside does a number of things to build on the previous title, recognizing Limbo’s weaknesses, and turning them into strengths. Most of it’s similarity is going out of it’s own way to be weird, it tries to do so by being deceptive with the narrative. It works out wonderfully though, and Inside ends up being a one of a kind experience.
So what’s the fuss?
As far as core mechanics go, the game is stupidly simple. Using a three button control scheme, you move to the right. That’s all. Pretty Traditional and Mario-esque, right? Not really. This isn’t a platformer at all. The entire adventure is one long panorama. Progressing your way through the one long stage, you’ll find puzzles that need be solved. None of the puzzle’s are hard. In fact, they’re often too simple. It’s also much more forgiving with trial and error. This game isn’t about challenge though, and I think that’s on purpose. Inside has a distinct flow in its tempo. I never found myself tied down to one spot too long, it was clear Playdead really wants you to see this thing through and experience the ride.
If you played Limbo, you will remember it’s distinct black and white palette throughout. Inside truly steps into the next-gen era with beautiful visuals. Using fantastic layering and lighting, this game is a treat to watch. Playdead made great use of foreground and background to give the game scope and a sense of “light vs dark.” A dreary, grey color palette will make you feel immersed in a world where something is dreadfully wrong. There are brief moments where light is used to give you moments of hope and security, but those moments retreat back into darkness and confusion as quickly as they appeared. Coupled with the dark tone of the story, what we have here is truly a creepy treat to behold.
The Plot thickens… sort of.
Inside wastes no time at all throwing you into the midst of this tragedy. You are a faceless boy, dropped into a dark wooded area and off you go. Empty fields and seemingly abandoned buildings hint that something is terribly wrong. From the first moment, you are vulnerable. This sets a tone of dreary noir, a feeling from which it never really vacates. You see other humans frequently, but these are never happy meetings. Get away fast, or you’re dead. Step into that beam of light? No, you’re dead. Stay underwater for too long… toast. In Inside, it’s clear that you’re alone. In fact, it’s laid on thick. There are no moments of dialogue or written text to give you any backstory or insight to this game’s overall narrative puzzle. That’s exactly one of the places where this game both shines and falls short. Although the environments and interactions you have tell a very powerful story, you’re left to your imagination to piece together what’s happening. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but unless I’m somehow inept at using my brain, there are moments where Playdead took it too far. Leaving me scratching my head, saying “Okay… but why?” More on that later.
It’s not the size that matters.
Inside is a short game. There’s no point in trying to explain that away. Honestly though, it doesn’t need to be long. It isn’t trying to be anything more than a brief story. Which is grand, because (aside from Limbo) there really isn’t anything quite like it. That being said, most people will finish this game in one playthrough. Personally, I think I clocked about 3 hours before I wrapped up. Intentional as that may be, you might have a hard time coughing up your moolah for something so brief. Hear me out though, what this game lacks in length, it makes up for in style and originality. It’s something you will find yourself thinking about for a while. Trust me, don’t let the length deter you from experiencing Inside.
Okay, So you know what Inside is about. I enjoyed it. I’m glad I played it. You should play it too. There are a lot of reasons to love it. It’s a quick summer hit that will leave you thinking and maybe inspire something creative inside you. Now though, I want to talk spoilers. So stick around. We will be back after Herb Albert
SPOILERS BE HERE!
Okay. You’ve finished Inside. Congratulations!
Now let’s talk about how you go from a scared little boy, to an amphibious mermaid (merman?) to a giant blob of legs that also is a death machine.
Actually let’s not. It’s really dumb.
The ending of this game was ridiculous. For a game that is all about building its momentum with a slow burn of realization, the Climax of this game goes from 0 to 5000 before hitting a brick wall and ending. I understand the entire approach of the game was to make you think differently, but wow! I get leaving things open to interpretation, and everyone might perceive the ending a different way, but it’s almost like Playdead was did one of the following:
(A)Making some sort of social commentary that just went way over my head.
(B) Ran out of time
(Holy Shit I’m High On LSD) Watched a David Lynch movie and then just thought, “Screw it, let’s go that route instead.”
(Seriously, wtf is this?)
The whole absorbing the boy into the murderous blob thing was a surprising occurrence, but it came at the cost of the rest of the game’s tone and pace. Granted, It was fun moment, but it felt like replacing resolve for excuse. You’ve spent the last three hours building up to this revealing moment and are rewarded with a brief few minutes of rampage? I don’t buy it at all.
What exactly were they going for? Is it game called “Inside” because now I’m in this blob thing? When the blob breaks through a wall before dying are you supposed to realize, “Oh wow, I’m not ‘Inside’ anymore.” Whatever they were going for, the whole ending felt rushed and out of place when compared to the rest of the game’s tone.
If you aren’t aware, there is a secret ending that is obtained by collecting the game’s hidden items, and it gives much deeper monologue than murder-foot-blob. I recommend at least checking that out if you want the best experience.
To each his own though. What did you think of the ending of Inside ? I can’t be the only one who was like I bit into a delicious candy bar only to find it full of old spunk. Let us know!