Inside will be familiar if you have previously played Limbo, and so you probably don’t need to read this review… I’m not telling you NOT to read this review (so many negatives), but if you enjoyed Limbo then you’ve probably stolen a march on me and already own Inside, and may well have completed it already – no spoilers in the comments, though. If you were like me, then you have been waiting for this game for around six years. Now, six years is a long time to wait, but I will say before you read this, that Inside is worth the wait.
Inside was published and developed by Playdead, a small company which only employs 25 people and that may be the reason why it takes them so long to release a game, which, itself, only takes around four hours to finish. It has to be said that they have a 100 percent record at releasing great games, such as this one-player puzzle platformer which, I suppose, is a 3D game. You will understand this when you play it, and you should make sure that you play this. It is an indie game and Playdead’s second release.
First impressions? No story, no words and you’re straight in. What a feeling. You run, jump and pull and that is all you need to do. So, off I went and I didn’t stop playing for a good few hours loved every minute. I feel I should mention, for anyone who knows nothing about this game, that it is weird. It’s meant to be weird, and that is part of its appeal. Now it is worth breaking it down for all the people who hasn’t enjoyed a Playdead game before.
I can’t give much away about the story, here, and, if I did, most of the things I do say will spoil the surprise of the game. However, it is worth mentioning that you play as a boy who is running. Running from what? I can’t tell you, but I will say that there are some weird-experimented humans that you can control. They really are eerie. You start off in a forest and end up in a number of different buildings where the experiments take place. Can you escape? Can you stop what is happening? Only time will tell…
Gameplay-wise, as I mentioned earlier this isn’t overly a confusing game. You can run, jump, pull things, get into some form of submarine and control some odd people by jumping into a sort-of mind cap. What is extremely satisfying are the puzzles. Inside is a puzzle platformer which strips games back to their basic, enjoyable self. And that is epitomised by the puzzles in the game. Not a single puzzle will cause you too many problems, but they will get you thinking and trying a range of different things. It doesn’t hold too much of a challenge, but you will end up dying. The last time I died this much is when I first played Bloodborne. Now, I am not in any way comparing these two games as they are completely different, but in both of them you will die far too many times.
What Playdead have done so well with this game, is that when you die, you don’t get too frustrated. You’ll never restart too far off, and through your death, you will unveil the correct way to solve the puzzle. Not to mention the cool, gruesome deaths that you will admire. Now I have to be honest, I don’t really like the Xbox One controller but this game feels right. The controls have a perfect sensitivity and you’ll find yourself repeating parts of the game to see if you can do it slightly quicker than your previous attempt. Even when you are inside the mind cap controlling those slightly demented humans, the controls feel good. Overall, the gameplay is fantastic and Inside has to be one of the most satisfying games I have played in a long time.
When I first watched this game being played I thought I wouldn’t overly be impressed with the graphics. They definitely aren’t lifelike and won’t astound you in a way that, say, The Last of Us did, but they definitely will astound you. I have to admit a couple of hours into the game I realised I was wrong with my first impressions. Yes, they don’t look amazing but it isn’t about the graphics, it’s about the colours. The game is dark and predominantly focuses on greys and blacks, but after a while you will realise the truth behind the beauty. The backgrounds draw you in and lure you into their own form of beautiful. At times, you will see glimpses of colour come to the fore, and then you will realise that these are instrumental in how you are going to solve the puzzle. I have played this game on two TVs – one much better than the other and I have to say that the better the TV, the better the game looks. I know that some of you will think that is obvious, but sometimes on indie games, you wouldn’t be able to notice a difference. It seems to run at a fast frame rate and this is essential due to some puzzles requiring completion in a set time.
The main thing I can say about the sound is that it is simple but effective. The sound of the rain tapping down on the ground or the wind whistling through the forest. The sound of main character running, the sound of the dogs coming for you. All of these sounds are fantastic. I even loved the sound of the sub smashing against the walls and how when you were in the water you sounded like you were. They haven’t missed a trick with the sound and you will find yourself engrossed in the darkness of it all. There are times you will find yourself lost in your thoughts with no one to help and no real music to clear your mind. I loved this. The sound takes you into the deep, dark world and plays with your mind. When I was thinking about the sound I wondered whether I would get bored of it. I didn’t.
Well, I suppose you are reading this and wondering what more I have to say about it. Yes, I mentioned right at the start of this review that you are going to enjoy this weird and wonderful ride Inside takes you on. I can’t tell you what happens, but I will tell you that you’ll be shocked at the end of this game. I wasn’t expecting it and I recommend you don’t look it up, but you play the game for yourself. Youtube can be a great thing to use, but it can also ruin the surprises some games have in store for you.
There is so much I loved whilst I was playing this game. I have covered must of them already. However, there was one thing I was slightly disappointed with – it was too short. Maybe I was asking for too much, but I would have liked this game to have been around eight hours long (like Transistor – a great game if you haven’t played it). I also feel that, after completing the game, there is little replay appeal. Maybe people will disagree with me here, but personally I am not compelled to go and play Inside again even though I absolutely loved it.
Graphics: 9 – I know I didn’t say anything bad about the graphics, but somewhere deep in my heart I only feel I could award them a 9.
Sound: 9 – Sometimes, simple is the perfect solution. Would it have been enough if the game had lasted as long as I wanted it to last? I don’t know, but I reckon it would have had a good chance.
Gameplay: 10 – There is nothing I can fault.
Enjoyment: 8 – If only it was a little longer. I mean, just an hour at least.
Overall: 9 – I have seen this game being awarded 10s from most reviews but I feel I just was left wanting a tiny bit more, and therefore it wasn’t quite a perfect game. Nearly though… very nearly.
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Publisher: Playdead
- Players: single player
Directors: Arnt Jensen
Writer: Laurids Thalund Binderup
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.