Inside - Review
In 2010 a small Danish software house gave Limbo digital prints, an equally small and delightfully disturbing game. One of the first real and tiny giants of the indie scene, not chosen by Microsoft at all and pushed on an Xbox 360 that, at the time, was the standard-bearer of the alternative game. Illuminated choices, which helped not only indie productions to gain space and visibility, but also to the Redmond console to offer an increasingly multifaceted and interesting playground. Over the years, Limbo has gone almost everywhere. And while his verb made of backlit scenes and atmospheres difficult to interpret spread, Playdead, the development team, remained silent.
It took six years for Limbo's team to complete its second proposal, Inside. Initially presented at E3 2014, just at the Los Angeles conference of the Xbox world, Inside now debuts on Microsoft's living room console and is preparing to do it also on PC, a few days later (July 7). All of this accompanied by roars of silence: a strategy probably developed at the table. Otherwise, it is difficult to think that it would not have been possible to focus on a more widespread communication and on the distribution of the right materials (trailers, game videos and much more) to tickle the interest of the players. Something has been done, like an early delivery of some game code towards the end of May to a handful of titles in the United States, but it is clear that PlayDead was not and is not interested in the hype. Thus adapting to the ways and tone of his game.
Damn, I'm talking about Inside, I fell for it. Yet I do not sincerely know how to do it and for what purpose. Why would a few words and a couple of effect phrases be enough to represent, roughly, what is left of Inside, once completed (but will I have finished it for real?) And close it like this. At the same time, such an approach would tend to pigeonhole the game in too brutal and ungenerous ways. Let's try the same: if you like being caught off guard, if you are not looking for certainties but experiences that float around gigantic question marks ... if, in short, you crave the sensations and adore getting lost for a few hours in a suspended and "other" atmosphere, buy Inside. Play it. Or, alternatively, let "he" play for you, then find ourselves here and try to understand what happened.
Better? No, right? We are still on the side of the indefinite, perhaps because Inside is actually indefinable. Perhaps, more likely, because it doesn't help too much to even try to define it. Yet it could be done. Warning, I'm about to make my situation worse. With the old "you could do it" trick, I will do exactly that, pretending not to. In short, Inside could be called the "perfect" follow-up to Limbo and the classic (?) Indie action game, with elements of platform games and a handful of puzzles thrown in. Throw yourself in very well, let's be clear. With Super Mario, Inside, it shares the view that tends to paint the adventure through a predominantly horizontal scrolling and a purely two-dimensional layout, but then it is also enough. Easier, rather, to indulge oneself in the memories (if any) of Another World or Flashback.
Here, cornered I would say that Inside has more of those Delphine games that made history, rather than many others, Limbo included. It will be because of the feeling of not being able to fully understand what is happening on the screen. It will be for the idea of finding yourself in a strange and terrifying and irresistible elsewhere. It will also be due to the exceptional care taken in every single millimeter of the game that can be walked on: not only aesthetic care, which also exists and is absolutely above average and of the norm, but also care of the structural cornerstones of the game. The animations, the system of interaction with its world, everything that makes Inside elementary and intuitive beyond all words, although always immersed in a strange molasses of indefinite and incomprehensible. If you want to do it, you can do it and you don't need any tutorial on the screen. If you can't do it, logic first is suggesting that that's a jump-start idea. Class distributed in generous handfuls.
Go on like this, for a stingy hand (but just and perfectly calibrated) of hours, until you indulge in the game ... and it happens soon enough. You lose the belief that you can really grasp the meaning, provided there is one, and you simply float within its crazy arrangement. A journey that sees a hypothetical Lynch guide us into the diseases of Akats by Katsuhiro Otomo. Without the coolest bike, but the helmet is there. Are you starting to guess that everything is terribly beautiful?
I told you, discussing Inside would have been complicated. At least as much as putting the game costs € 19.99 into the equation. For someone too much (and one can understand), for someone too little (and one can understand), for someone who cares (here I am). Go and, if you have not been taken by the terror of the aristocratic indie pretentiousness, play it. Then, I repeat, come back here and tell me what the hell it was.
I played Inside thanks to a kindly granted download code. I completed (I think) the game in a couple of sessions, on Xbox One, lasting about four hours or less. I've also unlocked achievements, but it's not that it's too important.