Inside is the type of game that draws you in with its storybook art style and witty puzzle solving, but what it is, well, is something brilliant and completely strange. Inside is either some inside joke, a commentary on modern life, or the strangest dream brought to life.
Inside was developed by Playdead, who also developed Limbo, one of the loveliest games I’ve ever played.
Playdead are masters of these creepy, playful and interesting adventure games. If you haven’t given Limbo a try, please take a look. With Inside, Playdead keeps the tradition with a worthy successor to Limbo. I had a chance to pick this up for $9.99 on the Playstation Store and I can say for that cost, I truly felt my dollars worth.
Inside plays very much like Limbo in that you are generally moving your character to the right of the screen, jumping to avoid large perilous gaps, and using brain control helmets and flying boxes to solve each chapters’ puzzles. The boy can grab items using square and will need to move things around the level to get to somewhere new. Playdead have paid special attention to how this games feels and even the cues where the boy gets chased by dogs and other people got my heart beating fast. Each step the boy took felt fraught with danger and possibility. In short, this game plays awesome and the gameplay really contributes to a well told, strange story.
Inside to me is like experiencing a dream. This is the best way for me to describe this but if we take a moment to look over the general arch of this story I think it will make a bit more sense. Inside starts out with a faceless boy in red running through a forest. It becomes clear early on that the boy has escaped, he is the only color in this world, and faceless men and vicious dogs greet the boy around every corner. Think of that as the frightful part of a bad dream: being chased by dogs in the dark.
The boy then falls into a gigantic building populated by slumped over, zombie like people. This is obviously where the game starts to get weird. Which I think anyone who has had vivid dreams can relate to something like this. It could also be taken as a metaphor for everyday life, as it is revealed later these zombie like people are themselves trudging into this massive corporate building.
As the boy progresses through these strange monolithic buildings, he’ll find more puzzles involving mind control of other mindless beings. A glowing yellow hat when attached to the head causes the boy to assume control of the zombie people, allowing him to use them to solve more of the chapters’ puzzles. This was creepy, but oddly fun in some sick way. Even with that feeling, this mind-control ability is a wonderful addition to traditional puzzle solving games.
I won’t give away the final moments of this game, as it is truly something you have to see to believe, but lets just say that this game takes on a monster movie type ending that is so bizarre that when broadcasting this game live, our buddy You-da-craze could only say “wow, weird af”. I think that about encapsulates the ending of this game. It should also be noted in the video below, in which you can see the entire game, I thought there was some trophy associated with not dying in this game. That isn’t the case. To get 100% on this game you need to find all the hidden glowing orbs, after doing so there is actually a secret ending you can look up online if you want to give this game more speculation as to what it all means.
Inside is something you need to play to truly get a feel for it. Like anything else reviewed out there, you’ll have to draw your own conclusions as to the meaning. Is Inside some commentary on modern life? Are we all too plugged in and do we become slaves to that technology? Some of the imagery in this game seems to hint you into a deeper meaning. I feel like this is The Shinning of the video game world, in that anyone could draw some deeper meaning from the design of this world. But isn’t this exactly what a video game should do? It should transport us to different worlds to tell us a story, and if that story elicits the fear or laughter that this game provides, I think it is a story worth being told. Inside to me, is like seeing a movie with an ambiguous ending. Ultimately, I like knowing that there are developers out there pushing the boundaries for what video games can show us. So please,
GIVE IT A SHOT!