Monday, July 11, 2016

Microreview [video game]: INSIDE by Playdead

Words Can't Describe

INSIDE is Playdead's followup to LIMBO. They're completely unrelated, except that they play pretty much the same. Run to the right, solve some light puzzles. Like LIMBO, INSIDE has a beautiful, slightly abstract art style. It's not strictly black and white like LIMBO, but its color palette is clearly muted. Like the art, sounds are sparse and music perfectly suited to the mood. To be honest, a lot of the game is holding down the "run right" button, but there are puzzles and platforming sections to complete. None of them are particularly challenging. It might even be easier than LIMBO, but you will fail occasionally. Then you will die, often violently, for your failure.

But what makes this game indescribable is playing it. Looking at its parts, there's not much there, but what INSIDE does with those parts is incredible. It tells a story without words. It sets a mood without assaulting the senses. It makes you feel things about a video game character whose name you don't even know. 

I absolutely cannot talk about it without ruining the effect. All I can say is what happens in the first 30 seconds, which is that you control a boy as he runs through the woods while people are loaded into a box truck by people in faceless masks. It's a grim start and it's impossible to put down once you've started. It'll take about three and a half hours, and I recommend playing it all in one go if you can. It builds exponentially until it's hammering you with shocking moments to the very end. 

INSIDE is easy to recommend to anyone. It's an amazing experience that is easily accessible. It's not long or difficult, but it will leave you affected. It's going to sound like a cop-out for me to say "if you're interested at all, play it" without qualifying that statement, but it's worth it. Play it. 
The Math

Baseline Assessment: 9/10

Bonuses: +1 it's easily accessible and should be played by everyone

Penalties: -1 some of its best moments are easily spoiled. If you're at all interested in it, play it ASAP, and avoid all discussion.

Nerd Coefficient: 9/10 (very high quality/standout in its category)


POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014

Reference: Playdead. INSIDE [Playdead, 2016]