Thursday, July 7, 2016

INSIDE Review (XONE)

Inside is one of those great experiences that makes you glad indie games exist.  It looks and sounds amazing, features some fantastic puzzles and platforming, and tells an incredible story with nary a cutscene or single word of dialogue to be found.  It is an unforgettable experience that will have you and your friends talking for weeks.  See what all of the hype is about here in our full review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Playdead
  • Developer: Playdead
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: 2D Puzzle / Platformer
  • Pros: Looks and sounds amazing; great controls; good puzzles; goes totally nuts
  • Cons: What the hell does any of it mean?
  • MSRP: $20


Inside, from famed LIMBO developers Playdead, stars a kid breaking into some sort of creepy facility doing who knows what for must almost certainly be insidious reasons.  Why does the kid want to go there?  What is the facility for?  No one knows.  You just do it because it is there and because it is a videogame and then make your own conclusions at the end.  Saying anything else would absolutely spoil pretty much everything, and the real joy of Inside is seeing how crazy it gets with your own eyes.  Just know that whatever expectations and ideas you have about the story or even the gameplay by the end are absolutely wrong.



Inside is a 2D puzzle/platformer very similar to LIMBO.  Inside is a lot more polished and well thought out than LIMBO, however, and the six years between the two games really shows off how much better Playdead is now at making games.  I was only sort of lukewarm on LIMBO, but fell in love with Inside, so keep that in mind if you felt similarly.  If you loved the first, well, you’ll love Inside as well.

The most important thing that I want to get across is how great the controls feel in Inside.  The only thing your character can do is move around with the analog stick, jump with the “A” button, and interact with items via the “X” button, but it all feels great.  Character movement is extremely precise and spot on, and interacting with items – whether they’re simple buttons or pushing / pulling objects – is just perfect.  And the controls need to be this precise because some of the puzzles you have to solve and movements you have to make require absolute precision to pull off correctly.  With lesser controls, Inside wouldn’t be nearly as fun to play. 

The puzzles themselves are also absolutely wonderful to solve.  Saying too much will spoil the fun, but I do have a couple of comments.  First, I love how the game often twists your expectations of many puzzles and they often require different solutions than the most obvious one.  You have to actually think a bit on many of them.  With that said, though, it isn’t as if the puzzles are particularly challenging, which is my second point.  The puzzles are extremely intuitive and just make sense.  They aren’t obtuse or out of the box.  Once you take a look at your surroundings and realize what you have to do to proceed, things just fall into place and make sense.  I absolutely love that.

The presentation is also just about perfect in Inside.  The visuals are extremely sharp, though not necessarily super detailed.  The game also has sort of monochromatic palate, but that has more to do with the lighting than the game actually being black and white.  Sometimes you’ll see natural lighting that bathes the world in color, but your character’s bright red sweater is oftentimes the only color onscreen much of the time.  It works well.  Likewise, the sound is fantastic because it is so subdued and subtle and atmospheric.  Like, really atmospheric. 

When you put it all together, Inside is a game with pitch perfect presentation, great gameplay, and clever puzzles all wrapped in a mystery of a riddle of an enigma.  The experience is occasionally scary, and funny, and heartwarming, and sometimes just plain weird.  But it is the combination of all of these feelings with the gameplay that make it such a memorable experience.  It costs $20, which is maybe a tad steep, but this is one of the craziest and thought provoking games on Xbox One and well worth the price.  We highly recommend Inside for a purchase.  

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