- Developer: Playdead
Review: I'ts not often that a game leaves you pondering its meaning days after you've completed it, but Playdead's 2016 critical darling had me doing just that. Soon after Inside's reveal, the general consesus was that it was going to be very difficult - nigh impossible - for Playdead to top their 2010 breakout hit Limbo, but top it they did and then some. Inside follows in the same vein as Limbo in that it's a dark, moody, atmospheric… Expand
Review: I'ts not often that a game leaves you pondering its meaning days after you've completed it, but Playdead's 2016 critical darling had me doing just that. Soon after Inside's reveal, the general consesus was that it was going to be very difficult - nigh impossible - for Playdead to top their 2010 breakout hit Limbo, but top it they did and then some. Inside follows in the same vein as Limbo in that it's a dark, moody, atmospheric 2D puzzle platformer featuring no dialogue or music. Don't let the fact that it has no music or dialogue dissuade you; Inside actually benefits from these things and it puts further emphasis on the incredible sound design and visual style.
Inside is pretty sparse on plot, with the storytelling coming mostly from the environments and how you interact with them as well as a lot of it being open for your own interpretation. You play as an unnamed, faceless boy who appears to begin the story in a bit of a predicament, and what happens to him over the course of the 3- 4 hour playthrough gets ever stranger and more confounding with each passing minute. Without going into spoiler territory, the game goes places I never would have expected and does things I've never seen any game do. The game may start with you outrunning vicious dogs, but don't expect the last third of the game to resemble anything close to normal life.
The gameplay itself is fairly straightforward, especially if you played Playdead's previous game Limbo (which I also highly recommend.). There are only two buttons to use along with the joysticks: one for jump and one for interact. The main draw of the game is its numerous physics-based environmental puzzles which range from pretty straightforward to mildly challenging. There are no extremely difficult puzzles that will prevent you from seeing through to the conclusion as this is a game more concerned about your journey through this dark and twisted experience and less so on creating hair-pullingly challenging puzzles to test your mettle.
The way Playdead guides you through the journey is evident of a game developer that cares deeply about what kind of stories it wants to tell and the deftness at how they pull it off shows a level of confidence rarely seen in a relatively small studio. If there is such a thing as "Triple A" indie studios, then Playdead sits squarely at the top of the heap.
The only minor complaint I have about the game is its length, but that's only because I wish it were longer. I had such a great experience playing it that the fact that it ends after 3-4 hours may be disappointing to same players, but it definitely leaves you wanting more. The game is relatively cheap now that we are 3 years past release and I highly encourage fans of 2D puzzle platforms, fans of dark and atmospheric games, and just fans of great interactive entertainment to support Playdead's masterpiece and enjoy the weird and twisted tale they've spun for us.
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