Playdead has built a habit of creating worlds with little narrative and backstory, allowing players to interpret the adventures – or horrors – themselves. In their previous title, Limbo, the game relies heavily on the dark atmosphere, the tension and discovery, to push the story along. The concept works well with players questioning the game every step of the way.
It’s been a while coming but Playdead’s newest title Inside follows the same concept as Limbo. You could say it’s almost identical in terms of gameplay to Limbo, just with difference in art design and smarter puzzles that makes it a unique experience.
Inside follows a boy with no backstory and narrative. You just control him in a treacherous world where almost everything will try to kill you. The world of Inside feels post-apocalyptic as you go deeper into the rabbit hole to discover their intentions. It’s dark, violent and most of the time you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
The trial and error gameplay returns as you attempt to navigate past different obstacles and enemies. It can get tedious, repetitive and often requires some careful thinking and quick reactions, but in the end you feel somewhat of an accomplishment completing them. I’m not really a big fan of puzzle games and some parts of Inside had me scratching my head to progress – ultimately you had to push on to discover more of the story and the world’s secrets.
As mentioned above, Inside’s art style is different to Limbo. While it still retains its side-scrolling navigation; the world of Inside features a slightly broader colour palette, better animations and dynamic lighting. It feels more alive and refined which really helps set the tone of the game.
Composer Martin Stig Andersen has also returned to work on the soundtrack for the game. He provides the game with ambience synths, providing the game with its atmospheric almost sci-fi like setting. During the game, his soundtrack really helps provide the tension, often with changes in audio and pacing during critical moments. His work with Limbo was brilliant so it’s a no brainer he was picked up once again for Inside.
Discovering things in the game can be interesting and at most times, horrific. Inside follows elements from the horror genre a lot with the path ahead shrouded in mystery. Horror movies thrive on surprises and Inside does this really well. There’s certain parts of the game you won’t see coming and I loved it each time – I saw myself gasp with shock and at other times grind my teeth as I watch something unfold quickly before my eyes. It’s a bizarre game and pretty wild with unsuspecting moments capturing you by surprise.
Most games rely on narrative driven story that offers the cinematic experience most people crave for but Playdead went the opposite way. The story in Inside is very vague and leaves it up to the player to put together. Even with this, the developers intentions remained a little unclear by the end, leaving the story open all the way through and welcoming analysis from the community.
Playdead has truly created another unique world with Inside. It pushes beyond Limbo’s groundwork providing a richer and much more emotionally driven experience by using just visual, sound and self-interpretation. It’s an incredible experience from start to finish and highlights as one of the best games released this year. Playdead is truly a mastermind with their games.
Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed) and PC
A review copy of Inside was provided by the publisher.