Inside for PS4, Xbox One and PC
I never really liked Limbo as much as a lot of other people. It was quite atmospheric, but I found the core mechanics irritating and the overall sense of place a bit repetitive. Playdead’s follow-up, Inside, is visibly a successor to Limbo; this is evident within seconds, but it follows through on the promise of their earlier game and delivers a much better experience which stands as one of the most unsettling and thought provoking games I’ve played in a while.
As with Limbo, Inside begins with a young boy running to the right through a forest, evading capture but unknown pursuers. I’m not going to say a single word more as this is a story you want to go into as unspoiled as possible. I will say that there is a story which is much clearer than Limbo; by the end I think I’d worked out what had actually happened, but I was left trying to work out what it all meant. I preferred the slightly heavier story approach in Inside, although it is naturally all told with no dialogue and entirely through the environments. With a very limited tool set, Playdead have created a fascinating setting and a truly haunting narrative.
Inside has similar core mechanics to Limbo, but everything is a fair bit smoother. There’s a far greater variety in gameplay mechanics, with some clever little puzzles. None of them are particularly hard, but they’re well designed enough to be quite satisfying and I rarely felt frustrated. Inside shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours, but the interesting ideas present in those hours are numerous. I found Limbo’s gameplay irritating and repetitive by the end, but Inside never lets you get to that point; just when one idea seems to have run its course something else comes in. Again, I would normally talk some specifics here, but the sense of mystery about what’s going to come next is such a big part of Inside’s appeal.
Inside definitely has a moody aesthetic, but it is more varied and interesting than the monochrome Limbo. Inside dwells much more in greys and muted blues and the world is much more detailed; I actually found the detail creepier than the more minimalist style of Limbo. There is a huge amount of attention to detail in the presentation; the ways some figures in the game move is so unsettling I just can’t quite get it out of my head. The sound design is just as excellent as the visuals. Inside is a short experience, but a meticulous one, where it is clear that every second has been given rigorous attention to make sure that the experience is as effective as possible.
Just when I thought I was done with the moody indie platformer along comes possibly the best one ever made. Inside is an effecting, melancholy and unsettling experience and I highly recommend you go forth and play it immediately.