Inside Review (Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Normally when I hear that a game is one of the best of the year, I try to keep my expectations in check and sometimes a little pessimism comes with it, my thoughts usually delegating to “Yeah, right.” I had the exact same reaction upon hearing how good Inside is, from podcasts and friends alike. I already had the entire game spoiled at least three to four times since it’s release so I didn’t think I would have as good a time as I did, but I was wrong. Inside is a beautiful, horrific game that everyone should play at least once.
From Playdead, the studio behind the much beloved Limbo, Inside is a familiar game to that of its predecessor, from its unique style to its fun puzzle mechanics and dark tone. The player takes the role of a small boy caught in a dystopian world where humans are trying to catch him for malevolent intent and where the lower class are subjected to strange experiments. Without giving too much away, the game gets stranger and stranger the more it proceeds cultivating to a stupendous climax, subverting all expectations and adding interesting mechanics that weren’t present before.
Inside plays like any typical puzzle platformer but its puzzles and set pieces set it apart from the rest. The controls feel tight and calculated. Every time I thought maybe it was the game that was in error, it was actually me; how I was controlling the boy and how I was using the environment. The puzzles are very creative and challenging but not too challenging, usually lasting thirty seconds to one minute to solve and often times so obvious you tend to overthink them. And the puzzles evolve throughout the game, getting more and more varied and interesting. Every time I came upon a new puzzle, there was excitement instead of fatigue.
I think what I love most about Inside are its horror elements. While Silent Hill and Resident Evil are your atypical horror games, it’s great to see something so innocent looking be so twisted and unnerving. From the ambient score and dystopian story to the haunting backdrops, the game oozes horror like Limbo before it; composer Martin Stig Andersen even used a human skull as an instrument in his compositions. Everything in the game is black, gray, or white except for the boy’s red shirt and his blood, which is symbolism at its finest and the ending is one of the most tragic and potent endings I’ve seen in a horror game in quite some time.
Inside in a way is what you’d expect from Playdead, but it’s also just as surprising as Limbo was. From its story to the fun puzzles, Inside is one of the best games of the year and for good reason.