Review: INSIDE (Xbox One)
It doesn’t happen often that a game evokes such a large number of emotions, yet have very little story, and has no dialogue at all. INSIDE is one such game, and while I find it hard to describe how I feel after I finished the game, I have to admit that it had an impact on me. Just not sure in what way.
A strange and dark adventure begins
To give a bit of an explanation, INSIDE is a side scrolling adventure puzzle game, that sees you controlling a boy who is running away from some sort of enemy. There is no H.U.D, there are no tutorials, and you use three inputs on the controller, two buttons and one analogue stick. That’s it. It’s wonderfully simple, yet elegant, and getting used to the controls is incredibly easy.
The setting for Inside is a bit disturbing though, and the grayish tones and muted sounds at the start of your adventure doesn’t help in easing the tension at all. Everything is very subtle, and you are basically thrown in the deep end and told to swim. Music is kept to a minimal, with tense chords becoming louder as an enemy is chasing you or, if you screw up, catches you. There are some seriously creepy scenes in the game, and it should be noted that its a bit more mature than what you would expect.
A puzzling affair
The majority of gameplay comprises of platform based puzzles, which basically means standing on plates, moving boxes and pulling levers. The puzzles aren’t too strenuous, and figuring out what to do won’t take you too long, even if you consider that no tips or info are handed to you on a silver platter. It’s nothing new or ground breaking, but it manages to stay fresh and fun all the way through. The game runs very smoothly, with no loading times, so even if you fail and die a horrible death, the wait is never too long to get back into action.
The pacing is also very good, one area or scene flows beautifully into the next. You also won’t easily get bored with an area, due to it not bogging you down for too long with hellishly difficult puzzle or navigation sections. INSIDE is very difficult to put down, and the whole game shouldn’t take you more than four hours, which I managed in one sitting.
It’s not always about the destination, but journey
Finding fault with INSIDE is really hard. Everything is kind of weird and baffling, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s easy to play, the puzzles are on just the right side of challenging, and the game strolls along without any hiccups. The biggest issue is with the lack of a story, or at least one I understand. Everything is incredibly vague, and I’m sure that was a deliberate design choice by the developers. It’s all ‘s up for debate, and it’s a matter of time before reddit posts and forums fill up with people discussing the deeper meaning of INSIDE. There’s also no real replay value to the game, and playing it again might harm your overall first experience.
INSIDE is a bit of a profound experience. I reached the end of the game and was a bit perplexed by what I just played. It made me think and reflect on my time with the boy in a red jersey. It does everything right in it’s design, atmosphere and execution and it is a very good game, but it’s not great. Which is a hard thing for me to say. Like I said, there is nothing wrong with it, and it has very little fault with it, but there is something missing. Something just felt a bit lacking while I played it, and it could be the lack of a story, or as I said, one that I understand.
But then again, playing INSIDE is an experience, and every person might take something different away from it, which is never a bad thing.