From the 8-bit exploits of an Italian plumber saving his princess, to highly cinematic, story-driven experiences that push hardware to their limits, video games have certainly come a long way. But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes a poem can be more powerful than a novel. And a poem is exactly what I’d compare Inside to, especially in a world filled with multi-million dollar triple A titles.
Playdead’s latest game improves on its predecessor, Limbo, in every way imaginable. That statement alone could’ve sufficed for a recommendation, seeing as how Limbo was a critically acclaimed indie darling, and a game I continue to think about to this day, but I won’t stop there. Like Limbo, Inside is basic in its mechanics, giving players what’s essentially a puzzle platformer. But leaving it at that would be severely selling the experience short.
The atmosphere in the game is absolutely amazing and is expertly dosed with the right amount of dread and mystery. This isn’t exactly a survival horror game, but it excels where other so-called horror games fail by actually making you feel uneasy and wary of your surroundings. And this is a side-scrolling game I’m talking about!
The game’s environments also do a great job in conveying the story–which is kept at a minimum to great effect. A dangling phone tells of something horrible that took place, that made whoever was using it run and leave it unhooked. And all the… well, I won’t delve into spoilers! But I will say that as you embark on this unnamed boy’s rightwards journey through the game, you not only start to uncover more of the engaging mystery behind everything, but you also start to see it organically evolve into something horrifying.
One of the shiniest keys to Inside‘s excellence is its level of immersion. And if you’re like me, you’ll be hooked throughout the game’s 3-4 hour duration, wanting to see it straight through like watching a masterfully paced film. Even the puzzles don’t break the immersion, despite some of them being somewhat complex towards the latter half of the game. None of the puzzles ever reach the point of frustration, which speaks volumes of the minds behind them.
I honestly can’t find any negatives to tag to my experience with this game. The length was perfect. After hitting the credits, and wiping the tears from my eyes, I didn’t feel as if it was too long or too short. I was also wholly satisfied and moved by the default ending I got. I haven’t gone back to unlock the secret ending yet, but I definitely see myself replaying this game in the very near future.
In a console generation filled with multiple big titles, it’s always nice to see a game come out that’s simple in nature, but heavy with its themes and super effective with a story told through its actual gameplay. Inside proves that you don’t need voice-acting or photo-realistic cutscenes to get across an effective story. And it’s a story that’s still stuck inside my mind, and will continue to be for a long time.
(10 / 10)
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