Six years have passed since Playdead released their first game, Limbo, which I talked about here. Playdead’s new game, Inside, follows the same formula as Limbo. They are both very moody, dark, and disturbing puzzle-platformers. I was a little hesitant going into Inside even though it received fantastic reviews because in my opinion Limbo fell a little flat. After playing Inside, I can safely say it greatly improved upon the preexisting formula from Limbo. Overall, the strengths and weaknesses of Inside seem to mirror Limbo with some improvements. However, most importantly Inside has introduced a stunning narrative element. I am going to keep this review spoiler-free, as Inside has a lot of mystery and intrigue that I do not want to ruin for anybody.
The most memorable and impressive element in Inside was its ability to tell a gripping story without any dialogue. You are dropped into a surreal and dystopian world with no idea what is happening or what your goal is. You quickly progress from area to area, watching what is happening in the background, until you start to piece together the plot. I loved the fact that you have to draw clues and hints from the environment instead of a story just being read to you through dialogue. Even if you pay close attention to everything that is occurring around you, a lot is open to interpretation. The game is purposefully ambiguous and leaves plenty to your imagination to piece together and figure out. The dimly-lit world and art style of Inside serves to compliment its central themes. The underlying motif of the game is all about control and conformity but how it is interpreted is all up to the player, and that is the beauty of Inside.
While Inside did a great job with its environment and story, it suffered similar issues to its predecessor, Limbo. Both of these games suffer in the gameplay department. Inside still has a few of those trial-and-error puzzles that plagued Limbo, but thankfully they have been significantly reduced. The bigger issue for Inside was its lack of difficulty. There were many different puzzle elements and concepts which kept the game interesting through the means of variety, thankfully. The game would introduce these creative new elements and spend awhile doing simple puzzles to let the player get a hang of the new element. Then they would drop the element and move onto something else entirely. Nothing seemed to move past the basics, and the game infrequently combines elements to make for more complex puzzles. I never felt like the game was getting progressively more difficult and complex, as a puzzle game should. The gameplay was not bad, it just got a little dull and slow after awhile.
Ultimately, Inside was a great little game. It only takes three to four hours to complete, but it is an extremely memorable experience. The depressing and cryptic world of Inside is unforgettable. It is beautifully crafted and animated, and its commentary on control and conformity is phenomenal. I would definitely check out this game if you are into moody, mysterious, and ambiguous stories. If you are into more fast-paced action or gameplay oriented games, Inside is probably not for you. For these reasons, I am going to give Inside an 8/10. It was a strange little game, and I really enjoyed it.