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Inside Review

A masterpiece in Design

Since Playdead games burst onto the scene on Xbox 360 with their little known title Limbo and changed our perceptions of what indie games could be and how storytelling can be delivered in the most unique and immersive way we now find ourselves five years later about to do it all again. Inside is the much anticipated follow up title and arrives exclusive to Xbox One but does it deliver on the hype?

INSIDE_04Inside follows the same formula of Limbo however everything about it feels ramped up a notch, again we are playing a side scrolling adventure platformer but it’s not your typical platformer. The game immediately thrusts you into the action and begins depicting the story without any nods to the events before it. That’s fine, in fact it works wonderfully and almost within the first 30 secs you can sense and feel that this game is going to be something special.

playdead-inside-screenshot-logo

Graphically Inside delivers the same noir esk art style but there’s a splash of colour into the mix which really brings the various environments to life. Limbo had a very grey scale feel with flutters of neon lighting to bring environments to life, with Inside we not only have a variety of neon lights but Playdead have really utilised the capabilities of current gen consoles with terrific particle effects, lighting and environment animations. Simply swimming at stretches makes you look at it with wonder. These environments are not only brought to life with the art but the clever use of obstacles and puzzles which deliver immersion like no other game I have played.

“there is some of the most charming moments in gaming here”

Within a short time playing Inside its clear that the level design is a class apart from anything out in the market currently. The close encounters are tuned perfectly which gives you that sense of phew every time you overcome a challenge or a devil like hound chasing you down. As you play as the main protagonist there’s a sense of innocence in how you explore the world but this is quickly washed away with some of the darkest most brutal deaths in gaming, even Lara Croft will look at these and wince.

INSIDE_02Despite the brutality in places that keep you on your toes there is some of the most charming moments in gaming here, whether its little chicks following your every move or birds pooping on a plank there’s something here to take you out of the dark horror the game does so well to deliver and remind you there’s a delicate charm offensive at play.

There is no narration or storytelling at play in the audio department here but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a story and the audio is poor in fact Inside delivers the most atmospheric sound in a game I have ever played. Whether it’s the rain pounding of the wet ground as you trench through the mud or the water whooshing as you fling yourself through the depths everything is spot on. Through the various action points, the game delivers the music and pacing adjusts beautifully to deliver incredibly memorable moments. The sound delivers on the games efforts to create a sense of suspense and horror at moments and it plays well into the environments as you explore them.

INSIDE_03Puzzles are back with Inside and they will gently ease you back in and they do gradually start to get a lot more well bemusing. However solving any of these puzzles still gives that immense sense of reward. The first puzzle is testament to that, it’s not only the satisfaction of getting it right but the evidence that the developer thinks differently and from this point on do what you don’t expect and the game will reward your ingenious approach.

At around £15 on Xbox One & PS4 this may be the best use of money you can spend on a console today. For me its easily the best game of 2016 so far and I’m sure it will be mopping up awards for years to come. Inside is a game you should jump into without apprehension and do it blind. Experience the story for yourself I simply can’t bring myself to spoil such a wonderful experience for you.

Inside was provided for review by the developer for both Xbox One and PS4

 

The Review

95% Masterpiece

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Scott Ferguson

Owner and Editor of Pixelgameruk.com

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