INSIDE

 

Genre:    Puzzle platformer

Developer & Publisher:     PlayDead           

Released:    July 2016            

Requirements (recommended):

    • OS: Windows 8/10 (64-bit OS required)
    • Processor: Intel i7 920 @ 2.7 GHz, AMD Phenom II 945 @ 3.0 GHz
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 660, Radeon R9-270
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

 

 

 

By flotsam

Inside

PlayDead

I reviewed Limbo, the previous game from this Danish stable, and in a single word described it as brilliant. Whilst I donít like repeating myself, I canít think of a more apt word to describe Inside.

If you played Limbo you will know what to expect. Itís a side scrolling 2D puzzle platform game, which is the least you can say about it. You will die, trying to dodge/avoid/escape all manner of things Ė people out to kill you, dogs out to tear you apart, search lights trying to find you Ė all in a single plane. You can go left, you can go right, but nothing more. You can climb up and down, you can jump, you can grab hold of things and pull, you can swim and swing and pull and drag, but never outside the single left to right plane.

Itís amazing how free that limited perspective can feel. There is depth to the visuals that make you forget you can only go left and right.

Speaking of which, the visuals are awesome. Black and white except when they arenít (thereby drawing your eye to that detail), they convey the dystopian, dysfunctional, disturbing world of Inside with a vividness that belies their simplicity. Subtle shifts of the camera accentuate depth and space, and the first time I sank into an abyss I was truly impressed. Throw in the lighting and it just gets better.

Front and centre, like Limbo, is a small boy. More 3D than his predecessor, he is still running, left and right, but inexorably towards the right, avoiding the things that are hunting him, or are just in his way, drawn on byÖ something. Whether itís his own making or beyond his control you can decide for yourself.

He is though a work of art. He will stumble, he will fall, he will puff with exertion, all based on what he is doing on screen. He will also be ripped to pieces, blown to bits, and torn apart, with appropriate visual and auditory effects.

Death is a lesson though, so embrace it. You die learning what not to do, making the next attempt a little less likely to end the same way. You will also die because you canít achieve the necessary sequence (get in, swim, activate switch, swim, get out, lure, get in, swim, activate switch again, escape) as quickly as is necessary. There are other similar sequences, and some that involve keeping predators at bay or avoiding their charge, all with small margins of error. At the same time, you often have to be working out how am I getting out of this part of the environment Ė just dodging the charging pig isnít enough. Luring it/using it/manipulating it to find a way forward is what is required.

There is lots going on in the background, and now and then in the foreground as well. Inside is not a happy place Ė there are people in cages, mind controlled humans, and some unsavoury experiments. You arenít immune to this Ė mind control will at various times be your best friend.

The puzzling involves getting through the environment. As much as it is about avoiding the things that will kill you, it is even more about how do you manipulate things to move on. You will find cubes that can propel themselves into the air, objects that can be dragged and pushed and thrown, mind controlled minions that can assist in interesting ways; even the antagonists can be used on occasion to achieve an end. Some objectives are obvious, if the solution is not. Others are less so, and will require patience. Some are wickedly clever Ė I loved the 20 man puzzle (and all its bits and pieces) in about the middle.

It is probably easier than Limbo, with less nimble fingered athletics and more environmental manipulation, but you will have do to do the former. So grit your teeth and knuckle down, and push through.

It plays with six keys - left, right, up, down, jump and hold. You can map them to suit yourself. It saves as you go, usually quite generously;  if you overcome an obstacle the chances are good it will save at that point. While you canít choose to save, you can choose to load at numerous points.

Freaky things happen, not least of all at the gobsmacking end. It has to be seen, not explained. Even if it could be. It is all manner of visceral, tormented, demented, goodness knows what. But it is worth the price of admission by itself.

What the story means is up to you. You will likely have views and form opinions and then change them as the vista and events unfold as you run. There are then two endings, one which you will only be able to get if you find all the orbs along the way, and then only if you are extremely observant (and moreso than me). I watched it on YouTube,  and found it oddly satisfying, if depressing. The ending I got was simple and baffling all at the same time; there is sunshine, I am outside, but what am I?

You can read lots about what the endings mean should you want to. Or you can just enjoy a wonderful piece of platforming.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 16GB DDR3

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB

 

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