I’m not proud to admit that I got late to the Limbo party. I had heard great things about that game back in the day but the moment where I got to play it was when it was added to the “Instant game collection” as part of the Playstation plus program. Then, I got introduced to a really great puzzle platformer and, since my impression of it was so positive, I couldn’t afford myself to miss out on a game like that for so long again.
I’m a busy man with plenty of games on my “to play” list so even if it hasn’t been years, a few months have passed since the Inside was released for PS4. In any case, here’s my review of the game.
Developed by Playdead, the same folks that brought us the charming Limbo, Inside is another 2.5D puzzle platformer. This time around, the game isn’t completely monochromatic but the similiarities between both titles greatly outweight its differences.
Here we take control of a red shirted kid in his journey to the right side of the screen. I’m being purposedly vague on this description as the game itself presents its purpose and meaning in a completely not explicit way. There’s no introduction cutscene, not dialog or any text for that matter so you certainly won’t know the name of the character or what he wants to accomplish until the end (and even then it’s open to interpretation). The only thing you do is keep moving forward trying to avoid all the dangers in this bleak world that Inside presents.
The gameplay is very similar to Playdead’s previous effort Limbo. The game progresses in a 2D plane (in 3D environments) where you can run, climb, jump and also drag objects or activate switches. With those mechanics and a very neat physics system the game presents you plenty of platforming challenges and, more so, different puzzles you’ll have to solve in order to advance. I should mention at this moment that, while I found the later stages of Limbo to be quite hard to the point of being almost frustrating, I never encountered any instances in Inside to be that demanding.
From a visual standpoint the game is quite unique. Its artstyle is mostly bleak and minimalistic which makes certain details shine the brighter when they appear like watching the bright red from the boy’s shirt when you reach a sunlit area. The game makes the best use of its artstyle to infuse you into different moods throughout the game.
Now, regarding the sound, this game is impecable within its minimalism. This isn’t like Journey where a delightful soundtrack swipes you as you progress through the game. You’ll be hearing nothing more than your own footsteps and the agitated breathing of your character during most of the play time. But, like with the visuals, the developers know how to make the best use of that minimalistic style and make the game better with it.
Things I liked
- Artstyle: It’s not only that the game is visually unique and appealing (which it is). It’s the fact that there’s a meaning to it, the game uses its style to convey ideas and feelings and its cinematography to give the player visual cues that makes the experience feel more natural. The game doesn’t look and sounds like this because it’s cooler, but because it makes the game more rounded and overall better.
- Animation: There’s some interesting physics system implemented into this game which some of the puzzles take a good advantage on but it is also very well used to implement some of the best animations I’ve ever seen. The way your character reacts to falling, how he swings from ropes… it reminded me of Ueda games and honestly I’m a sucker for those.
- The Journey: This is very hard to put into words as it’s regarding the whole experience through the game and I obviously don’t want to spoil it for you. It is regarding its story, how unique it is and its mature storytelling with its implicit approach. But it’s also about the gameplay itself. How well the puzzles are thought out and how varied they are. It should also be praised how the different mechanics you have to make use throughout the game feel so natural in the way they’re presented at you. The game never feels too hard that it’s frustrating but it’s neither too easy that you’d think it’s aimed at kids.
Things I didn’t
- Nothing?: It could be argued that the game is too short as a full playthrough could only last a few hours but it’s not like the asking price for this game is 60 bucks and, in any case, those would be one of the best few hours you can spend with any game.
Who’d like this?
When I’m playing through a game I get an instant impression on it as I’m playing it. I might think “this is good” or I might think “this is bad” but, before I dare to write a review on it I have to think it over, meditate about my experience for a while.
As I was playing through this game however I got the instant impression that this was going to be a masterpiece and, after finishing it and thinking about it, my initial impressions only got reaffirmed further. In my humble opinion, Inside is a masterpiece, and if you have to play any puzzle platformer now, let it be Inside.