Six years ago the small team at Playdead created an anostinishing little game called Limbo. If you played that game then you know what you are in for, as this team has crafted an equally memorable and gorgeous experience, with Inside.
First things first, this review is going to be completely spoiler free as I want you to be able to experience this game like I did, without having any idea what I was getting into. I could write five hundred additional words breaking down the intricacies of the puzzles, but that wouldn’t be fair to you. I could also go on forever about the story, or at least my interpretation of the story, but I want you to be able to come to your own conclusion so that we can talk about it at length in the coming weeks. Anyone that spoils any part of this game for you is not your friend.
What is Inside?
I guess this is as good a place as any to start, right. Inside is a 2D, side scrolling, platform game that is heavy on physics based puzzles and atmosphere. One of my favorite parts of this game has to be the seamless nature that you move from one area to the next. There isn’t a loading screen in sight as you slide from puzzle to puzzle uncovering more and more about the simply told and complex story as you progress.
So it’s a platforming puzzle game, how are the puzzles?
I’ve thought long and hard about this answer because I truly believe that the puzzles here are really well put together. The way this team introduces new mechanics, without on screen prompts or hand holding, is a lesson every developer needs to learn from. And no, this lack of descriptive hand holding never makes you feel lost or overwhelmed by what is currently in front of you. Actually, by the end of the game, all of the mechanics come together in some of the game's most rewarding puzzles. My only complaint, which you could consider a big one, is that the puzzles never felt overly challenging...but that could have been by design, to keep the pace of the game moving. Either way, they work, leading you to moments of sheer terror as you rush to solve them seconds before death, and help to flesh out the world in ways very few puzzles ever have before.
The screenshots for this game are striking, are the visuals that powerful in game?
Yes, this is a ridiculously good looking game. The art style is simple but the amount of life, or lack there of, that the artists were able to squeeze into each section of the game is remarkable. From desolate forests to...well, you are just going to have to trust me that each area you encounter looks brilliant. This isn’t just polygons I am talking about here, this beauty extends to the animation which is some of the best in the business and gives every character loads of life, and gruesome death. I can't explain to you just how draw dropping the animation is in the final minutes of this game. I promise you it is unlike anything you have ever expereinced with a controler in your hands. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention how great the lighting is and how important it’s use is in helping to shape the story.
Without spoiling anything, can you tell us about the story?
Outside of saying you play the role of a little boy, I am hoping that you go into this game like I did...with little to no knowledge of what you are getting yourself into. Someday soon we can all get together and dissect this emotional, layered, confusing and engaging story that Inside offers.
The dreaded value question...considering the game's length, is it worth the price tag?
If you came here to find out if this game is worth your $20, I’m not sure anyone can answer that for you. It took me about 3 ½ hours to get through the game and at some points I wondered if the price tag was warranted, considering how much I've gotten out of games that cost less. Then the final 45 minutes happened, I sat down, grabbed a drink and let the entire experience come into focus. After that moment of reflecting, I can honestly say it was absolutely worth it to me. Also, if you explore every nook and cranny looking for the fourteen hidden disco balls, which are tied to the games only achievements, then you will probably add a few more hours to your experience. Honestly it all comes down to what you want out of your gaming experiences.
This might be the shortest review on the site, why?
This is the kind of game that I think is best played without knowing anything. Me telling you that it’s a beautiful game with tricky puzzles, a cool soundtrack, unbelievable animation and a thought provoking story is all I think I need to say. You should play this game.
"Inside is an amazing experience from beginning to end. A few puzzles felt like padding, but the last quarter of the game more than made up for it. You need to play this game."
RELEASED: June 29 2016 | SYSTEM: XBOXONE | SINGLE PLAYER: 4:05 | MULTIPLAYER: N/A
STORY - 5/5
VISUALS - 5/5
MUSIC - 3/5
CONTROLS - 5/5
- The story isn’t forced on you, it just happens
- If you enjoyed the gruesome deaths in Limbo, you are in for a treat
- I wanted the music to be more powerful than it was
- The puzzles aren’t quite as challenging as I had hoped
- The final 45 minutes are unforgettable
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