In a way, Inside is a remarkably simple game to describe – it’s like Limbo, but better. The environmental storytelling is both more interesting and easier to follow. The movement is cleaner, the puzzles have less unforgiving timing and the checkpoints are better at reducing frustration. The art, while maybe not as iconic as the silhouettes of limbo, is at least as stylish with stark contrasts of light and shadow being used efficiently to set a mood that is similarly dreadful but more nuanced. I’m guessing some of the thematic differences could make one game appeal to a player over the other, but in general it feels safe to say if you liked Limbo you will also like Inside.

Long before it was released, I was talking about Limbo with a friend who was judging it for the IGF – he mentioned that it was a very animation-driven game, more concerned with how it looked than how it played. Not that this made it bad – Limbo still had controls that were more than good enough for the actions you were undertaking, and if Playdead made any concessions to end up with more coherent visuals it paid off in spades. Many people – several in my own circle of friends – who were largely uninterested in videogames were drawn to Limbo when watching the game being played by someone else.

Inside does what it sets out to do really well, but part of that involves a story that does not allow for too many sidetracks or too complex puzzles to break up the action. As such, it is typically immediately obvious how a puzzle is to be solved and executing the solution is a matter of busywork – sometimes with a degree of tedium. It is maybe not surprising that participation sometimes feel arbitrary in a game that can so easily draw curious bystanders in. Still, the story Inside tells is really interesting and it has the good sense not to drag it out.

Posted on Jul 01/16 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »