About a boy and his blob
Playdead’s 2010 macabre and minimalistic platformer, Limbo, was a surprise sleeper hit that stood apart from the rest of the Xbox Arcade lineup at that time. We’ll never forget the pulsating soundtrack that made our skin crawl suggesting that giant spider was near or the satisfying moment you make that delicate gravity-defying last jump breaking the seal to the world and ending the game. It’s been six long years but Playdead is back with another 2d platformer. Good news, if you enjoyed Limbo, you’ll very likely love Inside.
At first glance, Inside is very much like its predecessor. You once again play as young boy on a mysterious quest across extremely dangerous terrain full of killers, supernatural terrors, and, yes, some very deadly platforming. This is where the similarities end though.
Unlike the isolated world of Limbo, Inside presents a very different world out of the gate. People are seemingly being lined up, shipped, or even marched out of town in single file for some unknown cause. The captors will have no qualms of shooting you on site and no hesitation about letting their brutal dogs make a meal out of you. Some of the death sequences (many are arguably unavoidable due to trial and error gameplay) are incredibly visceral.
The game starts out strong as you avoid these militant forces and death camp marches in a game that feels very much like a 2D Half Life 2. Tragically the game has a remarkably slower mid section involving water levels that simply goes on too long. The entire sequence is almost saved due to repeat encounters with the murderous resident(s?) of this quarry that isn’t eager for you to leave. We’re left wondering though, has any game ever delivered a “fun” underwater level? We’re genuinely asking because it doesn’t really happen here either.
We’ll avoid spoilers but your impression of this game may largely hinge on how you feel about its final and out of left field final act. Once you realize what these death camp marches really are, what the scientists are studying, and what’s motivating you do to do exactly what you’re doing, the game takes a tremendous turn for the weird with no turning back. I actually thoroughly enjoyed this last act. It fits tonally within the game so far, is a clever twist to make sense of so much that’s come before, and is frankly hilarious. We’d get why others may end up scratching their heads as the credits roll though.
The basic core mechanics of Limbo are even better here. While still a 2D experience, the use of the 3D space for interactive objects like ladders or pathways for enemies is seamless. The dangers keep escalating and several sequences (like the deadly shockwave machine or the few pulse-quickening races from guard dogs) are incredibly well designed. It’s incredibly hard to put down once you start.
What doesn’t work
Well it’s a short game that can be completed in about 3 hours but so was Limbo. The ending turns the rest of the game on its head and will likely be a point of contention for many gamers.
Overall: Buy It
Not many games are as strong as Limbo and now Inside. Developers Playdead have once again merited the full purchase price for such a unique and memorable game.