Sunday, 3 July 2016

Asylum Reviews: Inside [Xbox One].

Playdead's Inside is an absolute masterpiece in gaming and I cannot fault it in any way. It's not often that a game truly grips me to the point that I want to keep playing it through to completion as soon as I possibly can.

We got Inside on Thursday, and by the Friday both of us had already 100% completed the story, as well as finding all of the secrets - therefore netting all of the achievements - and then found the alternate ending, too. Oh, and we then went on to watch a friend play it (so our cumulative third playthrough within 24 hours of getting the game), and have been watching people play it on YouTube, as well.

It's that good, honestly.

Now, I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into too much detail, but the game is fantastic. The visuals, whilst still mostly monochromatic, now have the odd pop of colour here and there, and the lighting is spectacular. Playdead really know what they're doing with their games: first Limbo and it's eerie atmosphere, with completely black and white, very simple visuals making some puzzles a struggle due to the limited scope of what is visible on screen, to Inside, where the visuals have been cranked up a gear, but still retains the ambience and further adding more threat to the game, making this one of the most panic-inducing games I've played in a while.

The familiar logic based puzzles make a return, with some seemingly impossible sections of the game actually very simple to execute, once you've wasted 20 minutes trying to work it out. From smashing your little submarine through doors, to using mind-control to open out of reach doors, the game really makes you think outside of the box at times, as well as sometimes confusing you, after you overthink a simple puzzle causing it to take much longer than it should have.

Everything you do in Inside has a worrying sense of foreboding, with a tiny little glimpse of relief dotted throughout. The creepy water girl is chasing you, and you get out of the water - phew - only for you to plunge back into the depths minutes later, and as the water encloses around your nameless character, the panic sets in again. 

Oh no, I'm in the water again.

Despite these moments of terror, the game does a fantastic job of keeping you invested - and not wanting to turn it off in fear - and almost forcing you to continue playing. Why does the girl keep trying to kill me? Who is she? Where am I? What is going on here? All of these questions, and more, are swirling through your head while you play, and as with Limbo, most of these questions go unanswered come the end of the game.

Leaving these questions open to interpretation is part of what makes Playdead's games so good. The general consensus of Limbo's ending was that the boy was dead. This was not only referenced and evident throughout the game itself, but its title. The boy being in Limbo, before passing on to the afterlife, etc.

Inside really leaves you thinking at the end. Leaves you thinking a few things actually, namely: "What the actual fuck?" "Oh my God, that was amazing" and "So what did it all mean?".

Co-creator of the game, Arnt Jensen, tries to make the games impossible to decipher. He admitted that fans got scarily close to figuring out the whole story behind Limbo, which actually disappointed him a little - he'd wanted it to remain unknown, at least for a longer time.

With Inside, I believe he has remedied this, and achieved his goal. The underlying ideas are there, which you can pluck out: government, mind-control, biological experimentation, etc. but you can't really piece these things together, at least not in a way that makes you go "Ahhh, now I know exactly what it was all about!".

It's a clever ploy though, leaving everything up to the player's imagination, and it's something that I would say gives the game massive replayability, beyond the fact that the game is amazing in the first place. You play again, hoping to decipher more of the puzzle, and then again, and you watch other people play it. You recommend it to friends, and actively watch them play, seeing the cogs turn in their brain as they try to make sense of it all.

It's a fun, puzzling and enjoyable adventure from start to finish, and I genuinely cannot praise it enough. And for a game that I can safely say that I can't figure out, it's not a negative (like the damn dummy finger in the Resi 7 demo!), it's something that actually makes the game more interesting, and makes you more intent on finding out the truth.

All in all, we both agreed that this game is a straight 10/10 and we genuinely hope that Playdead keep making games like this for a long time, as they are that amazing.

What did you think of Inside?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

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