Inside Delivers on Limbo’s Promise

Blooing

How can you tell that the makers of Inside paid just as much attention to detail as they did when they created its predecessor, Limbo? Martin Andersen, who made the sound and music for Inside, recorded the game’s music through a human skull. Welcome to a bizarre game. Welcome Inside.

As puzzle-solving single-player platformers go, Inside, although itself being a follow-up, is totally unique. Designed by Jeppe Carlsen, the Danish Film Institute gave this game huge investment. Not bad for an indie game, right? But as with the game itself, Inside, nothing is as it seems.

Limbo was such a hit that any follow-up would guarantee two things: firstly, a level of pre-game sales that most indie games can only dream of and secondly, pressure. But what’s impressive about playing Inside immediately upon loading up is the sheer importance of everything you encounter.

During Inside, you play a small boy who enters a vivid, dystopian world of black, white and grey. Deep in a charcoal nightmare, he’s got to go deeper into an environment of serious scares to figure out what’s going on and in doing so, escape the murderous intentions of a gang of tranquiliser-gun-loaded heavies and dogs. Lots of dogs.

One criticism that has been levelled at Inside is that it doesn’t stray far from the world established in Limbo. That criticism is borne out of a compliment – Limbo is just so good that to diversify too far from such a successful template. While some of the gameplay is more than familiar, there is a variety and imagination behind each puzzle you must solve.

Inside GIF

If enslavers wielding guns, bloodthirsty dogs and human experimentation are too knife-edge for you, Inside might be one to avoid. While it’s a small boy you’re controlling as you wander deeper into a genuinely unsettling and terrific tale, it’s a big, evil world he inhabits. The genius of the game is that, if you can stomach the scares, the lack of narration or dialogue and bothersome sound effects drag you into caring about the world you inhabit without ever really warning you. The environment you are a part of is a crucial chunk of the story.

Some will definitely sit against the minimalist design of some of the game. It can feel, at times, like 70% of the screen is just shadow. But the shafts of light that peer out of the giant black blocks in Inside are often stunning enough to justify the highly original art design. The lights must have been permanently low at Playdead Studios where the game was developed and designed.

Inside Playdead

While Playdead made a massive impression on the gaming industry in 2010 with Limbo, Inside is likely to grab fewer headlines simply because of its release expectations. But it’s a perfectly-rendered game in its own right. While it never strays far from the traits that made its predecessor so famous, it also uses the added experience of its studio team to bring even more from its talented stable of artists and designers. The sound design remains one of the things I love about Inside more than anything.

Inside was released in 2016 on Xbox One, PS4 and Windows, with the game arriving on iOS in late 2017. Inside was finally released on Nintendo Switch on June 28th for the summer holidays. Rated an incredible 91% on Metacritic, Inside won the Game Critics Award in the year of its release for ‘Best Independent Game’.

Inside is just £14.99 on Steam, which I think is excellent value for money, especially if you really take a lingering look at each level as you progress into the heart of the game rather than just skip through in three or four hours.

But if you’d like to look at the trailer, then check it out here.

The best way to understand the appeal of this perfectly-formed game is to get Inside, in every sense of the word.

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