Inside: Short Review

     Danish game developers Playdead's newest game Inside is quite a genius piece of work.  Building on every single aspect of their previous work, Limbo, Playdead has made a huge leap forward.

     The levels are simple and yet, strangely, complex.  The puzzle-platforming uses a balanced and gradual method of learning, slowly adding more and more puzzles, step by step increasing the difficulty.  Some require a bit of trial and error to figure out how to get to the next place, but most aren't too tough.

     On the good side, the sheer atmosphere that the color palette and music creates is one of such a dark and horrific setting that I was surprised.  There's a depth to the world veiled in fog in each area you are in.  You get an idea of the true scale of things when travelling from one zone to the next, most notable to me when leaving the giant underwater facility into open water at one point.  It's adds an element of awe.  Even in moments away from being chased, when you are allowed to do a very little amount of exploration, those few areas are still loaded with a curiously ominous tension.  The aesthetic never relents from weighing down on you.  The environment feels alive with things going on around you.

     But this tremendous world-building also is the greatest weakness of the game.  Nothing is explained.  The plot itself leaves a bit to be desired, only because there is so little to go upon.  Dead people and animals are strewn about.  Some eerie worm-creatures seem to be able to control others.  There's mind-control devices, intelligent machines, humanoid clones, warped gravity with water, and genetically mutated monstrosities.  It's loaded with really intriguing things, and nothing to piece them together.  As the red-shirted boy, are you really running from something, or towards something?  Is it a bit of both?  There is absolutely no context for what is happening.  I want to know what the story is, and would at least like some hints pointing me in a singular direction- not a bunch of clues that could go down any number of possible roads.

     Inside is a sublime piece of work that definitely lends greatly to the argument that video games are indeed art.  It's a haunting mystery with no clear answers, and this time it actually works for the game.  It is evocative of films like The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and adheres to that feeling throughout the whole journey.