10 Levels and Games Set Inside Something’s Body
Many games aim to create immersion by sucking you in to their game world. Some games go one step further, by sucking you into something that lives inside said game world. The following are ten (rather squishy) games, or levels therein, that take place inside something’s body.
#10–Fantastic Voyage 
The 1966 film Fantastic Voyage arguably invented the whole ‘story set inside someone’s / something’s body’ genre. It has since been parodied by the likes of The Simpsons, Futurama and Rick and Morty, and was likely the inspiration for the 1987 film Innerspace.
It is only fitting then that the earliest video game set inside someone’s body was also called Fantastic Voyage and was loosely based on the film. The relatively primitive graphics of the Atari 2600 meant it was difficult to tell you were controlling a miniaturized vessel inside someone’s body–it could just as easily have been a plane flying along the Grand Canyon. But from these humble beginnings far greater (and ‘ickier’) games would follow.
#9–Fantastic Voyage 
1984 saw the release of the second game to go by the name Fantastic Voyage. Released by Quicksilver UK, it had more than a passing resemblance to their earlier game ‘Blood and Guts.’ Fantastic Voyage arguably had better, more ‘organic’ graphics, which helped to sell the illusion you were inside someone.
Blood ‘n’ Guts
1988 saw us go from being inside someone to being inside something, in this case a giant space worm thingy that wants to munch down the Earth like a KitKat. To defeat it, you will need to destroy its kidneys, heart, lungs and brain from the inside, whilst avoiding being killed by its giant immune system. By this point, graphics were improving, but had not quite reached a level where it was clear you were inside of something. Many of the levels of G.U.T.Z. resembled a planetary surface and caves more than they did something’s innards, but it was a step in the right direction.
“G.U.T.Z. Putting the ‘Macro’ into Macrophage since 1988”
The final levels of Alien Storm take place within an alien bio-ship, and see our intrepid burger van workers/alien busters fighting through aliens in order to reach its brain. As you do…
Alien Storm was never designed to be taken seriously, so the bioship’s icky interiors were there for comic effect. This would not be the case for many of the ‘inside something’ games and levels that would follow.
You see the bullets coming in from the upper left of the screen every now and then? They a from a spaceplane. Quite how it got inside an alien bioship is left to your imagination.
#6–Fantastic Voyage 
The third (and final) entry on this list to go by the title Fantastic Voyage, this differs from the Atari and Spectrum incarnations in that it closely resembles the film, and there is no mistaking that its game world is set inside someone’s bod.
When Microcosm was released, gaming on CDs was the next big thing. Many of the early games were simple rehashes of existing floppy disc (Amiga) and cartridge (Genesis / Mega Drive) titles with flashy intro sequences added. Microcosm was different in that it used the increased storage capacity of CDs during the game as well. The rather icky backgrounds were created using Silicon Graphics Workstations and inserted into the game. Because the backgrounds were essentially pre-rendered videos, they were non-interactive and didn’t affect the simplistic Afterburner / Space Harrier etc., gameplay. Therefore, Microcosm looked superb (in a gross kind of way) but its gameplay left a lot to be desired.
Looks like my last endoscopy. Is that TMI?
Philosoma was an unusual PSOne exclusive shoot ‘em up for several reasons. Firstly, it had a plot, voice acting and characterization that were not total garbage–almost unheard of in a shoot ‘em up. Secondly, it changed perspective multiple times throughout the game. Some missions were horizontal scrolling, some vertical, whilst some were ‘afterburner-esque’ and saw you flying both into and out of the screen.
It may not be immediately apparent why Philosoma has been included on this list. I don’t want to give anything away, but I recommend skipping to the 50:00 minutes mark of the video and watching it to the end and all will become clear.
#3–Unreal 2: The Awakening
Unreal 2 was one of the earliest games to use the Unreal 2 engine. It looked fantastic for the time, but its gameplay left a little to be desired, partly due to many of the more ambitious and interesting enemies and gameplay features being removed during development, and partly due to your player character moving at the speed of a sedated sloth. One interesting level that did make the cut was the one shown in the video below.
So, is this thing the Sarlacc’s mom?
Castle Crasher’s armory takes place inside an unfortunate giant frog monster whose innards appear to use Dr Who physics.
Clearly this thing hasn’t got eyes bigger than its belly.
#1–Gears of War 2
Let’s be honest, we all saw this one coming. If Unreal 2: The Awakening showed how the Unreal 2 engine handled fleshy insides, then Gears of War 2’s ‘Intestinal Fortitude’ showed how the much-improved Unreal Engine 3 could do it. Not only did it look fantastically gross, it played well too. The level design really sold the notion you were inside a giant worm’s insides, including giant pulverizing internal teeth, digestive juices, outrunning the food it has just swallowed, and fighting its internal ecosystem. Using the MK2 Lancers’ chainsaw blade to sever the worm’s aortas (and then almost drowning in blood) was the perfect ending to both the level, and this list.
I guess eating a city is one way to get enough roughage in your diet…
So that is my top ten levels and games that take place inside a living organism. What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of levels and games such as these?
Are there any other games, or levels within otherwise ‘normal’ games, that could be added to a ‘Part Two’ list? If so let us know in the comments section below. If sharing a level inside a game please let us know which one, ideally stating its name and / or number, but failing that, roughly whereabouts in the game it can be found.
Iain is a 40+ gamer from England, who started his gaming journey on the Atari 2600 35 years ago. He can be reached via Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nomads_reviews.