People that know me well know I have four main passions in life – my family and my cats, cooking, video games and rugby. England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 in dramatic style, as described in the documentary Building Jerusalem. At the very end of the game, Jonny Wilkinson described watching the ball being kicked into touch which would trigger the final whistle. “Watching the ball spinning in the Sydney air, I wanted time to stop. At that moment, we had achieved all we had worked for, the Australians couldn’t take the game away from us – it was a moment of bliss and perfection. Once the ball landed, the game would be over and things would never be the same again, we could never revisit that moment.”
Inside, for me, is that same moment of perfection, a game so polished, fun to play and intuitive that I never want it to end. I was a huge fan of Limbo, with its beautifully observed puzzles, distinctive look and wonderful animation. I deliberately killed the character to watch the death animations, they were so perfectly and gruesomely implemented. At the time I thought it was one of the best three games I had ever played.
I’ve been waiting impatiently for six years for Playdead’s next game and finally Inside has arrived. The game has the same, Scandinavian sparseness to it – there is a simple title screen and you are straight into it – no credits, no tutorials, no cut scenes, no backstory, just your character who is a scared young boy being pursued through a dark forest. If you have played Limbo you know precisely what to do – there are only two buttons and the left stick for movement and there are familiar game elements such as ropes and crates to move around.
For a stark environment the game is truly beautiful, with driving rain, brief glimpses of colour through a watery sunshine and an apocalyptic, industrial background with huge deserted factories with obvious Danish origins. Light and shadow form an essential part of the game and are completely consistent with the environment.
The world is entirely convincing and is filled with relentless enemies, constantly searching for the boy. Limbo had those terrifying spiders, with their menacing gait and rapid stabbing attacks. Inside has attack dogs that will chase you down and rend you limb from limb. Dying in Inside is a remarkably frequent occurrence (at least when I’m playing) and I have been repeatedly drowned, shot, stabbed, savaged, impaled and electrified.
For a stark environment the game is truly beautiful, with driving rain, brief glimpses of colour through a watery sunshine and an apocalyptic, industrial background with huge deserted factories with obvious Danish origins.
The animation is a joy, with partially successful jumps being completed in a scrabbling, panicky manner. The audio design is exceptional, creating an atmosphere that complements the visuals without being too intrusive.
Inside takes the common elements and gameplay of Limbo and in every way improves upon them, resulting in an experience that is immediately understandable and gives a more pleasing final result. Once you have mastered these elements, Inside gives you new things to try out and combine with the knowledge you have already acquired. Some of the puzzles are multi-layered and solving them gives a great sense of satisfaction as you drive onwards
to the next challenge. Not wishing to spoil people’s experience of the game prevents me describing some of these puzzles, but every element of Inside is a delight.
Unlike Jonny Wilkinson, I have found my way of stopping time so I can continue to savour this amazing game. I’ve played around 2 hours and the game is now paused on my Xbox so I can finish this at a later date. In my mind Inside is my equivalent of the rugby ball, spinning in space, I can’t stop thinking about it.
Play this game as soon as you can – it is my Game of the Year and in fact my Game of many, many years.