Inside (2016)

Well… wow; I just finished PlayDead’s latest game InsideINSIDE_Xbox_One_cover_art

It’s hard to talk about this game too much, and yet all I want to do is talk about it. I won’t be getting into the plot too far, partially because there isn’t a clear plot, and partially because I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone. If you haven’t gathered already, you need to stop reading this and play the game. It’s worth whatever you pay for it, and needs to be experienced to be properly appreciated.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about this. So, much like the previous game by this developer Limbo, this game opens with a young boy, quite literally, dropping into the world and beginning his journey to the right side of the screen. We are put in charge of this boy, and left to piece together the world around him as best we can. With everything from pulling worms out of dead pigs to using a mind control helmet to move others around to assist your progress, the world is bizarre, dark, and has an overwhelming sense of menace about it. While it’s clear there is some kind of dystopian society at work, Inside does an excellent job of giving you just enough information, before quickly taking it away and replacing it with something that changes your understanding completely.

What I found the most in my experience with the game was my discomfort. Something about the total experience was very disquieting. It’s possible that this came from simply not knowing what was going on, and not really being able to find out, or the general look and feel of the game as a whole that filled me with this unshakable sense of dread. This is a real testament to the design of this game that it creates so much atmosphere from the first moment you begin to play; Inside does not rely on loud noises and jump scares, but builds it atmosphere slowly, and makes for one of the best horror experiences I’ve ever had playing a video game.

Inside-Ending-Explained-3

The atmosphere of the game makes the actual scary moments in Inside all the more effective, causing them to get under your skin and stay there forever. A perfect example of this came when I was first attacked by dogs. You really get the sense of how dangerous it is to be who you are in this world, because at a certain point (near the beginning, it’s really not a spoiler) you will have your first run in with dogs. If these dogs catch you (a child if you remember) they will knock you over and tear your throat out. No, this isn’t an exaggeration, this is exactly what happens. The game is simple, and doesn’t focus on realism or gore, but the atmosphere of this world, combined with the surprise of these dogs viciousness makes for one of the most disturbing moments I’ve come across in a game. This world is dangerous, and completely unforgiving.

I spent so much time wondering just how much of this experience I had control over, found myself doubting the reality of the game and wondering who was controlling or experimenting on my character. I never once expected to be pulled so deeply into a game which, on the surface, seemed so simple.

While the puzzles aren’t deeply challenging, they create enough tension and force your attention enough to make the experience surprisingly immersive. What stands out the most is, of course, the experience. There is so much here worth experiencing first hand, that I don’t really want to go deeper. This is less a deep review, and much more of an urging for you to go out and PLAY THIS GAME.

Inside is one of the best games I’ve played this year, and you need to play it. I’m still mentally unpacking my feelings and reaction to the ending which… jesus. Just go play it.

FINAL RATING: ***** 

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