Some 6 years ago, back in 2010, a small game called Limbo crept up on the Xbox 360 store. It began accumulating downloads and slowly it became a smash hit. It was a game developed independently from big AAA publishers, and it is the reason hundreds of indie titles are released each year. This year, Playdead Games, the developers behind the success that was Limbo, are at it again with their newest release Inside, and luckily for both them and us gamers, the title will reach a much bigger audience than what first achieved by Limbo.
Limbo stars a little boy who is looking for his sister, hence enters a forest to search for her. Inside stars a little boy as well, but instead of his sister he seems to be searching for freedom. The world of Inside is a mix of grey and black and white, contrasting heavily with the colours of the clothes of the boy. Conversely to Limbo, Inside features much more colours than the former, and this added colour does its bit as well to add personality to the world, or rather show its lack thereof. This lack of personality of the game is not a detriment to the game, but rather a sign to show the hostility of the environment around the boy, which needs to never give up to be able to finally exit this labyrinth he has found himself into.
If theoretically the boy must not give up to succeed, the player must persevere as well in the game. This is because, similarly to Limbo, the game takes a trial and error approach to teach players how things must be done. Amazingly enough, although you will die quite a lot in the game, frustration is very rare, if even possible. This is because, at least from my perspective, each and every death in Inside can be treated as a lesson, from which important things can be learnt. This will then build the player up to face increasingly tough challenges and puzzles, which will still need trials and errors themselves to understand and solve.
Gameplay in Inside is fairly straightforward, with only standard movement with the analog stick and jumping making up the key controls. You can also grab heavy items and drag them along the ground, most frequently to drag a platform for you to jump over and reach higher places. While such a simple control scheme may mean that there is little to do in the game, Limbo has previously taught us how complicated a game can get when done right, and Inside definitely copies its predecessor in this department as well, since apart from using the controller, you must also use your brain to get through this. This is what makes Inside and similar games so entertaining; reflexes and co-ordination is always important in games, but figuring out what needs to be done and following through leaves always a feeling of satisfaction.
As what regards graphics, we mentioned before how the landscape is dominated by black and white and grey. The more you get into the game, the more the colours begin to reflect the sad mood of the environment around the little boy who is trying to escape this maze. The lack of colour of the world beyond the little boy does not mean that the game is ugly. On the other hand, it is quite a beautiful game, with small details spread around the world. The little bits of colour here and there such as the lights and clothes give more personality to the world, help keep it a little more alive. This goes directly opposite Limbo, who dominantly used the black colour to portray the general feeling of delusion in the game. Inside also features a sense of sadness and desperation, but for some reason, it is easier to keep on believing in Inside than in Limbo.
Inside can be said to be a masterpiece from Playdead, but considering the success of their former title Limbo, Inside should be praised more. It is a great game, but more than being an amazing game with great gameplay and beautiful scenery, it is a game which, apart from being extremely addictive, makes you think about what players are seeing and observing. Obviously this is very subjective, but games which make you think stick longer with players than generic first person shooters or adventure games, and Inside will definitely stick inside your mind for quite a while.