I never was much of a fan of Limbo. But let’s be honest, it was nightmare fuel at its finest, and that spider, forever, will haunt my darkest imaginations as one of the few things I hope never comes to pass on this planet of ours. Playdead has done an amazing job of taking the 2.5D genre and breathing into it new life the likes of which I haven’t seen in many platformers for quite some time.
While Limbo was simply a grayscale playground with much left to the imagination, Inside has fleshed out the environment in its entirety, and it makes for some horrific background events that were, more than once, the cause of my demise thanks to beautifully simplistic, mind-wrecking horror that distracted me long enough for the rare enemy, or environmental trap, to turn me into yet another statistic.
You enter into this world, almost identical to the beginning of Limbo, and find yourself in what amounts to an epic chase scene through the forest. With no real dialogue, no story, you are left simply to rely on instinct, and nothing more.
Run. Run like hell.
It’s nerve-fraying, tense, and things seem as though they can get no worse. And then “worse” comes knocking. Every environment is carved, lovingly, from the darkest moments of horror movies spanning decades, each with its own little slice of hellish opposition in the form of enemies, one of which was summoned straight from my own nightmares.
Kudos, Playdead, you managed to scare the living hell out of me, and my friends got a good giggle out of it.
Relatively short, Inside tells the story of a young boy caught up in events he has no business enduring, outsmarting an army of hunters, dogs, creatures, critters, and otherwise unspeakable evils, to uncover something on par with “Soylent Green is people!!!”
I completed the game in only a few hours, but it was enough to make me appreciate the developers efforts in creating a world that leaves one with more questions than answers. Often times in the gaming industry, even the longest of epic stories leaves you going “What the hell?”
Mass Effect, I’m looking at you.
But Inside left me with a different kind of reaction. Spoiler free, I can say that at the end of the game, I sat in silence, waiting for the credits to roll, and thought back on everything I’d done over the duration of the game. I didn’t get the “secret” ending that has already been spoiled a thousand times over on the internet. I just finished the game. It was rattling in a way that I can’t entirely vocalize.
One asks one’s self. Are we really conducting things like this? Is the human mind capable of such cruelty? I suppose most readers would say “Yes” or “Under the right circumstances.” Inside reveals something dark about humanity, the twisted things we’ll do to each other “in the name of science.” The relentless pursuit with which we will chase a goal, only to have it blow up in our face. The things we claim to learn from such events, tossing the unwanted results aside, only for history to repeat itself over and over and over again.
Inside is a massive leap forward for Playdead’s presentation and I, for one, am thrilled that I got a chance to play this newest iteration of the developers work. I hope to see more of these twisted, unsettling tales from them as they move forward, and heartily recommend Inside to anyone who is a fan of horror, suspense, puzzlers, and platformers. You will, most certainly, NOT be disappointed in the experience.
Happy hunting, my friends!