A Grim Tale
The moment you boot up Inside, you’re greeted with no opening cutscene, no introduction, no text, and no directions on what to do. A little boy slides down into a forest and you have to immediately guide him from there, solely the word “Inside” plastered on the left side of the screen.
Inside is subtle. Inside is dark. Inside is also one of the best puzzle platformers ever created. Playdead has outdone themselves with this game, and it’s time to rejoice it again as it releases on the Nintendo Switch. Because critics have already praised the game on other consoles, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. If you’ve heard of the game, then you know it’s one of the best.
Seeing the World
What makes Inside so different from most puzzle platformers is that it never tells you anything, but you never feel lost at the same time. There is such good communication with the visuals alone that I didn’t feel the need to look up a guide once.
Inside takes “show don’t tell” and really delivers. It’s not like other games that tell you nothing and you’re left to figure it out on your own. As you run through the woods, you’ll see a dog barking in the distance, warning you that it will come to assault you soon. There are moments where robots shoot tasers at people, signaling that you need to stay out of the light. The game is jam-packed with subtle hints like this that keep you moving forward.
Inside teaches you to pay attention to the environment when solving puzzles as well. Because you never gain any power-ups or abilities, you have to gather what you can use around you to keep progressing. This formula is even upheld in high-speed chases, where you have to think on your feet as if you were really being hunted down.
The Subtle Movements
In order for a game to be good, it has to have fundamentally good design. Inside has that. What makes a game astounding is all of the toppings that are sprinkled on for good measure. Inside has that as well.
Where Inside really shines is in the little details it injects in each room and character. You’ll see the player character stumble as he runs through the forest and pick up speed when someone is chasing him. Other humans stop and look at you when you pass through their vision. Even the environments are stuffed with tiny details that are just as pleasing to look at as they are disturbing to witness. Believe me when I say that Inside isn’t afraid to shock you.
Shock and Awe
All of these visual details and gameplay mechanics are set in the context of a world where corrupt people are at the top, experimenting on the less fortunate. The world is in shambles, and that’s evident from every detail you see around you.
Unlike Limbo, Playdead’s previous title, Inside is much darker and not afraid to get down and dirty. Everything from parasites to underwater monsters await you in this game, and they’re all placed to reflect the kind of world you’re running through. It all builds to a finale that is every bit as disturbing as the rest of the experience, but the way it ends is every bit as subtle and graceful as the way it begins.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Inside was provided by fortyseven communications.