If there was an instruction manual on how to make a follow-up hit to your previous highly celebrated original title, there would be no doubt developer Playdead would have contributed many chapters. Fans of Limbo will be right at home with Playdead’s sophomore title Inside, as it returns you to another side-scrolling world as a faceless, vulnerable little boy trying to survive his harsh reality.
Though Limbo six year ago profoundly captured our imagination with its simple, yet foreboding atmospheric theme of trial and error puzzle design, for Inside the rules and ambitions have been taking up a notch, expanding the scope of Playdead’s experiences. In short, Inside is one of best games we’ve played all year.
Like its predecessor, Inside takes players on a grim journey introducing players to brain-teasing obstacles and puzzles within an elaborate world as you make your way through impressively depicted locales. As though moving along seamlessly through connected set-pieces with morbid and sinister detail, our new adventurer, young in his appearance never utters a word. Frequently tasked with increasingly challenging ways of figuring out how to solve the environments latest form, Inside has an interesting way of making its artistic surroundings quite beautiful, with fore and background objects seemingly attainable.
Instead of the distinct somewhat noir impression of black and white tones associated with Limbo, but not going overboard with bright overlaid color hues, Playdead adds a drop of color this time around without betraying the experience. The little boy this time can be clearly seen wearing a recognizable red shirt. Tackling the Farmlands you will come across some baby chicks whose bright yellow coloring breathes a bit of hope against the drab grays, blacks and subtle lighting of the environment. This example is expressed throughout.
While Inside is pulled from the Limbo playbook where overall function is involved, Inside respects your time and sanity within it is universe with more grace. No longer are you rudely introduced to brutal and repeated death scenarios without the soothing grace of more fleshed out puzzle solving objectives. Don’t get me wrong, Inside can punish you if you do not pay attention, however the unspoken narrative influence, which becomes increasingly weird and out of the box greatly adds to the games charm.
Death in Inside, while it can be a shocking affair, is associated more with how far your curiosity takes you unlike the unseen an surprising death jolts of Limbo. This makes puzzle solving far more enjoyable, while building your confidence to plow ahead ultimately uncovering the games bizarre and disturbing truth.
Inside showcases far more grand brain teasing formulas without going too far, as well. Nothing within the puzzles-solving world of Inside sticks out like a sore thumb. Everything has been intelligently integrated assisting players to exam their surroundings and certain subtle behaviors of in-game enemy types who aim to make our young friends time in this world a challenging one.
With only the ability to jump and interact with certain objects within the environment, I appreciate Playdead’s approach at not making the game feel like a laborious hassle of climbing and jumping for the sake of filling the game with meaningless mini-tasks. Everything within in this world that you can make contact with has a form of purpose, while again being surrounded by artistic 3D objects, providing an organic touch to each themed locale.
Playdead provides a dramatic layer of detail to Inside and as the player what could seem familiar begins to take on a distorting psychology. While escaping this world may have been your initial shock, as you continue your appetite for discovery begins to yearn for what’s actually behind the curtain of this ordeal.
With and ending that left me speechless and wanting more, I was utterly and completely satisfied, while scratching my head. Though my overall explanation is vague, I don’t apologize as I do so in respect of refusing to spoil what Inside has in store with its detailed and brilliant gameplay. Going in my expectations were high, based on my admiration for Limbo.
Thankfully, our expectation were exceeded with what we believe to be Playdead’s best interactive achievement to date.