Back in 2010, Playdead released the 2D black and white puzzle platformer Limbo and it quickly became a hit selling over a million of copies and being released on virtually every available platform. Fast forward six years and developer Playdead has finally given us their highly anticipated follow up game – Inside.
Inside is similar to Limbo both aesthetically and from a gameplay perspective. I believe this game is best enjoyed if you play it blind so I'll refrain from mentioning anything crucial to the story. I will say however, that you play as a young boy who starts off traveling in a forest, but eventually approaches a facility where things take a creepy turn and begin to get very twisted and dark. Playdead describes the game as "crazy" and "weird". I must say that after playing through the roughly 3 hour adventure that is the perfect way to describe it. There is no dialogue throughout the game which leaves the storytelling strictly environmental.
Environments are more 2.5D this time around and maintain the same monochromatic art style that was present in Limbo, but to a slightly lesser degree. The lack of music just adds more to the already disturbing areas your traverse. There is also a sense of loneliness I felt while playing. You don't have any real interaction with other players and if you do happen to come across someone or something it is usually out to give you pretty gruesome death.
Death is something that occurs swiftly. Inside is a game of trial and error and never hesitates to remind you of that. Deaths are abundant, but after each death you are quickly spawned to a close checkpoint. The lack of loading times adds to the fluidity of the game and made me feel more immersed in the world especially during the first portion. I felt their were some pacing problems during the mid game, but those issues were quickly overshadowed by the unsettling, but amazing ending the game has. Its surely one that won't be soon forgotten that's for sure.
Puzzles are scattered throughout and most are pretty difficult, but the game is always fair and none of the solutions felt far-fetched. Various of different type of puzzles are featured as well. Environmental puzzles are more traditional, usually requiring you to utilize levers or push items around the map. Other puzzles can be a bit more deadly, but I really enjoyed how each puzzle felt completely different than the previous.
There are a few things such as leaderboards, completion time, death tracker, etc. that would benefit the game that are currently absent, but hopefully we see them added later. The length of the game is also short and can be completed in one sitting. I was disappointed with the length, mostly because I was left wanting more.
Inside takes an already great formula of and improves on it in just about every way. The beautifully designed environments coupled with the cleverly crafted puzzles easily makes this the indie game to beat this year.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday.