Review by Leigh
After blowing more money than I should on the Steam Sunmer Sale, I was reluctant to splash out on this title. Fortunately for me, an incredibly generous friend of mine gifted a copy of Inside to me. (Thanks Jules!)
Playdead, the geniuses behind Limbo, have done it again with another side-scrolling platform puzzler void of any dialogue (fit for almost instant international consumership) and another unique dark artistic style. You play a boy hunted by patrols of what I think of as “soldiers,” who seem to be rounding up what I perceived as “civilians” for … reasons. Even after completing the game there’s several unanswered questions or at least unclear answers which require the player to piece together their own meaning, while enduring the bleak, depressing and often horrifying locations, all joined together seamlessly without one single loading screen in sight. There are universal facts on which we can all agree, but there are underlying details that are still open to debate, even for a game published back in 2016.
Our young protagonist has to run, jump and climb their way through each level as well as interact with objects, such as pushing or pulling boxes and turning wheels to activate machinery or doors. Some cool moments included outrunning soldiers, outrunning guard dogs, swimming away from Sadako (the antagonist featured in The Ring) as fast as I could. and dancing like my character was in the Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video.
Puzzles look and feel naturally apart of the world and have a good variation, keeping players new to the platform puzzle genre on their toes or scratching their head for the most part. Hardened veteran players will breeze through the game easily in around 4 hours or so. This doesn’t sound that long, but Inside does not overstay its welcome nor is it a fleeting experience where you feel short-changed. In fact it’s almost perfect in its length. I say ALMOST perfect as I feel the ending could have been expanded just a smidgen, but at the same time the conclusion felt acceptable even if it was open-ended. Replayability is there as you can go back to any point in the game and attempt to find these strange electrical orb things, then take their core out. Unplugging all of these machines allows players to unlock a secret ending.
Now that I’ve stamped a massive THUMBS UP symbol on Inside, it’s time to toss some mud at its feet. Do you know what REALLY irritated me about this game?
NOTHING! There’s not ONE fault that I could find. It’s a perfect game. I’ve four nitpicks of critique that a person could easily shoot down while wearing a blindfold in the dark.
Nitpick One: “Some of the puzzles require you to explore your surroundings to solve them.” “Well, yeah! Of course you’re meant to explore to solve puzzles! Part of this game is meant to be about exploration!” “Yeah, but sometimes I go to one place, then I have to go back to another place to think about the solution to a puzzle then back again to the previous place to do the puzzle and sometimes it may be a long way…” “That just sounds like you’re lazy.” “Yeah, fair call.”
Nitpick Two: “It’s dark…” “Yeah, it’s a bleak world.” “No, no … I mean TOO dark. Like, sometimes I couldn’t see obstacles. Also, at one point I was stuck for five minutes at a certain point of the game as I couldn’t even see where I was supposed to go!” “Did you turn the brightness up on your monitor?” “… Eventually, yes.”
Nitpick Three: “No tutorial or instructions informing players how to play.” “Pft! The game allows the player to naturally work out the controls without pressure. On top of that, players can just check out their control settings.” “Ah, yeah … point taken.”
Nitpick Four: “The story is a little too abstract for my liking. Nothing is really clear and it frustrates me a little.” “Okay. That’s fair I guess. Although if it was clearly explained it may take the mystery out of it a little.”
You can buy Inside from the outlets listed on the Playdead website. To find out more about the latest reviews, stories and other cool things in the world of games, like us on Facebook. And remember – if you’re game, we’ll play!