If you were to look at my top 10 list that complied my favorite games of all time, you would notice that a lot of them are open-world titles. “Red Dead Redemption” and “The Witcher III” would even be found snuggled in my top 5 spots. Now along these huge blockbuster games, you would find a new addition. A small indie masterpiece called Inside.
The reason I bring up those open-world games is because, usually it takes a large world to immerse me. A variety of missions, an in-depth upgrade system, etc…However, when a platformer that has simplistic controls and a simple “walk left, walk right” structure comes out and manages to fascinate me as much as Inside did, it is truly catching lighting in a bottle.
Game developer, Playdead’s “Limbo” was a unique platformer experience that wowed and stood out both stylistically and through innovation. Inside is the long-awaited followup that has managed to not only raise the bar that Limbo left behind but also creates a game so strange, beautiful and haunting that it deserves a spot on any self-proclaimed cinema lover and game fanatics top 10 list.
Inside begins with a boy in the woods. There is no explanation as to how he got there or what his motives are. He is just a boy in the woods. You immediately take control of the young character. You lead him past shadowy figures in the woods who appear to be patrolling the area. It isn’t long before the faceless figures are chasing you and sicking dogs on you. I managed to die a lot during my play-through. Not always by mistake either. The death animations have a wide variety of animations from dogs tearing you apart to being ripped to shreds by sound concussion blasts, there are a ton of ways to die and each is more fascinating than the last.
“Inside is what would happen if
David Lynch and David Cronenberg
directed a film together”
Once out of the woods, you enter a surreal complex that reveals a Kafka-esque dystopian nightmare. Slaves are controlled by a shadow bureaucracy. The socio-political aspect of our overworked world is something I felt was all over this game. The large masses marching to work much like “Pink Floyd’s The Wall” are ubiquitous in this world.
Your journey leads you deep inside the facility where you uncover nightmare inducing sights, pilot a submarine in pitch black waters and find something that will make your jawdrop in the final act. This game is best left unspoiled. It is better to let it creep over you as you surrender yourself over to it.
“Inside sticks, sickly and sweet
to your brain and gives
a rare gaming experience.”
The art designs are absolutely beautiful and chilling. The shadow filled complex becomes a character all on its own. While, the puzzles and character animations go a long way to create an experience that is one of a kind.
The game structure is built around solving puzzles. The puzzles are tough but fair. They may have you scratching your head for a bit but none are hopeless. Everything is measured at just the right amount of story and puzzle. Inside knows exactly what to allow you to see and what to keep hidden. It knows when to begin and the exact moment to end. It only coaxes you only long enough to devour you in its narrative. At a rough 4 – 6 hours of gameplay the game feels like it has a perfectly matched runtime for what it sets out to accomplish.
Inside is what would happen if David Lynch and David Cronenberg directed a film together about their idea of dystopia. It is filled with thrilling moments that will give your stomach sinking feelings. Inside sticks, sickly and sweet to your brain and gives a rare gaming experience. Inside is a must for fans of Limbo and an absolute must for fans of dark sci fi and horror.
Inside is out now on Xbox One and Steam.