Have you ever played a game that was more than what it is? Not just because it looked graphically impressive, or it featured a never-before-seen gameplay mechanic, but because it just felt different than other games? If you have, Playdead’s Inside is just like that.
Developed by the talented folks over at Playdead (makers of Limbo), Inside puts you in the shoes of a boy once again, but this time, the game isn’t entirely monochromatic, there’s a lot more areas to explore, there’s a lot more NPCs that get in your way, and the story’s better (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything).
Little Boy Lost
As is with Limbo, Inside starts with the boy (you) just thrust into the game. There’s no introduction, no tutorial, or anything that we’re used to in conventional video games. While you’re traversing the first few environments, the game teaches you the controls, which consists of using the analog stick for movement, and two buttons (jump and an all-in-one “function” button). Basically, that’s it. You’re left to your own devices as you’re shooed your way to keep on moving right. Well, OK, maybe sometimes you’re moving up or down, but the goal of the game is to always go “right.”
While the game might look, sound and even play simplistically, I guarantee you, it’s not. It won’t wow you graphically, but what’s there, is used to great effect with fluid animations, no load times, and no technical glitches of the sort. It’s a polished game from start to finish, with the “no load times” thing fantastically helping in pulling you into the game’s world, and never looking back once you start.
While I won’t discuss Inside’s story, since I think it’s the main selling point of the game, I’d be doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t mention how short a game Inside is. From my estimate, I completed Inside in roughly 4-6 hours. Mind you, I only found like three of the 14 hidden orbs in the game. These orbs are also tied to the game’s Trophies. Don’t expect a notification to pop up once you’ve completed a level, since, well, there’s really no levels to speak of. It’s one seamless adventure that happens to take place in different areas. And before anyone asks, yes, there is no Trophy for completing the game, too.
Some might balk at paying $20 for a game that lasts for only 4-6 hours, but I hope people don’t. I don’t judge a meal based on how fast I can eat it. What it lacks in length though, it more than makes up in story. Well, alright, that one’s kind of confusing, since there’s no sweeping narrative, no glamorous voice-overs or fancy dialogue. But what’s there is an air of mystery right from the start, and one you’ll want to find out how it ends. If there’s a curious bone in your body, then prepare to be lost in Inside’s world the moment you see the first guard corral you, or when a dog bites your face off. You’ll want to know what’s happening, why it’s happening and where it’s going.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. I genuinely don’t want to spoil anything in regards to Inside’s story, since it’s something players need to experience for themselves, but you don’t get what you always want, and sometimes, it’s better that way. I think I’ll leave it at that and let you find it out for yourself. Just be prepared to read more about the game once it’s done — at least that’s what I did.
Inside is a very peculiar game in the sense it differs so much from what we’re used to seeing in games that the only thing I can compare it to is Playdead’s own Limbo. If there ever was a game that the phrase “less is more” applies to, it’s none other than this game. There’s no explosions, gunfights or anything that almost all games these days have in order to be a guaranteed seller. But it does have a lot of soul though, and a story that’ll make you ask questions and stick to your brain long after it’s over, which is rare in our medium.
Don’t expect Inside to deviate much from start to finish, but you’ll find that it doesn’t need to. If you liked Limbo (or even if you didn’t, maybe?), or found yourself piqued just a little by what you’ve seen of Inside, then go snatch it up. It’s a rabbit hole that you’ll find comfort in diving into.
Inside review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.