Turn off the lights and enjoy the terrifying mastery of “Inside,” the new puzzle platformer from the maker of “Limbo.” But Inside is an even better game than its predecessor, and it combines heart-pounding scares with easy to master play mechanics.
Here’s all I will say: Inside starts like Limbo, in that it’s all dark atmosphere with nothing in the way of exposition, either for the game’s story or how you play. You—as a literally faceless child—just start … moving. And then it kicks in. This isn’t the haunting, mesmerizing world of Limbo at all. This is a horror mystery straight out of an X-Files episode. Something is very wrong, and those people … they’re trying to kill you.
And they will kill you, again and again, until you figure out what you need to do to make it past each puzzling test. It’s not hard enough to be frustrating, but it’s scary enough that you may actually put down the controller from time to time and step back from the screen.
And the violence is a big part of the visceral impact: Despite spending decades playing various increasingly realistic-looking shooters over the years, seeing a young child shot, grabbed by an assailant, or drowned, even in the cartoonish graphics of this game, is downright disturbing.
And that’s just the first ten minutes.
The mystery is compelling enough to keep you going, across a varied—but always dark and often rain-filled—landscape as you’re followed and hunted by enemies with their own agenda. It’s a beautiful, dark, and scary world, but it’s also our world, the real world. Well, the real world with zombies.
Look, we’re awash in minimalistic and atmospheric video games this days, Limbo being one of the first, and now core, titles of this genre. But like Firewatch on the PS4, Inside rises above its amazing presentation and simple play mechanics and adds depth. Depth of story. Depth of caring. You want to find out what’s happening, and you just want to keep going.
Eventually, of course, the game devolves somewhat into a series of increasingly obvious puzzles of varying complexity. It’s a puzzle platformer, after all. The quality of the puzzles varies, of course, but the game maker deserves credit for some truly weird moments involving blowing chicks through a wood chipper, pulling the tail off a pig, and controlling zombies remotely with your mind.
And that’s just in the first 30 minutes.
Which is basically where I am as I write this. But I, like you, need to get busy. Finishing this game, that is.
UPDATE: OK, I finished the game. I guess it took me about four or five hours all told. There are some incredible sequences in the game, and some frustrating moments. But I should warn you, without giving anything away: The ending is terrible. It makes no sense, resolves nothing, and was just strange. That’s too bad, but don’t let it detract from a $20 title that is still a much better game than AAA crap like the new DOOM. Just … be prepared for an unsatisfying end.
A few more shots.