Game essentials: Inside
We take a closer look at the App Store’s must-play games.
From the Creators of LIMBO
‘You’ll never see the twist coming!’ is the kind of prediction that rarely comes true. When you know a surprise is imminent, you can’t help working out what it might be – and so when it arrives, it doesn’t often catch you out.
Well, we guarantee the final act of Inside is beyond anything you could possibly anticipate. It’s a deeply weird, thrilling and disturbing sequence that rounds off this sinister adventure in truly mind-boggling fashion.
What comes before is no less unsettling, but then you’d expect that from the minds behind the deliciously devious Limbo. Danish creator Playdead’s second game starts with a similar setup to its debut – a young boy, lost and afraid, explores a hellish world – but it soon spins off in a different direction.
As the game begins it becomes clear you’re being hunted. You’re never told as much, but you can tell by the way the boy instinctively ducks his head and sticks close to cover as trucks rumble by and torch beams swing left and right through a dark forest.
Without a word of tutorial you’ll know you need to pause and wait for these mysterious figures to pass by – even before the noisy yap of their dogs makes it obvious they’re not friendly. The controls come equally naturally: you’ll slide your thumb left and right to move, swipe up to jump, and hold it in place to grab objects that can be pushed or pulled.
The lack of in-game assistance keeps you immersed in this menacing world, and it also means that even the easy early puzzles are enjoyable to solve. They’re so organically designed that something as simple as tilting a ladder from one side of a large hole to the other feels satisfying.
Like Limbo, danger is never far away, though Inside doesn’t resort to mean tricks or hidden traps. It doesn’t treat death as a gruesome joke, either – whether you’re shot with tranquiliser darts, zapped with electricity or drowned, each demise feels horrible, making you all the more keen to avoid it.
This only adds to the knuckle-clenching tension, which is cranked up even higher when you’re being chased. Every escape is incredibly narrow: you’ll always seem to survive by the skin of your teeth, even when you know what’s coming. Inside leaves just enough room between these set-pieces so the sudden changes of pace never grow predictable, and the shocks stay shocking. It even outdoes Limbo’s infamous giant spider, introducing a terrifying new threat in a scene that’ll have you gasping for breath.
And then it finally pops the cork on all that bottled-up tension in the most spectacular way. Inside deserves to be remembered for more than its ending, but there’s a reason it’s the first thing anyone wants to talk about after finishing the game.
Developer Playdead has already said its next creation needs an extra dimension; if this is to be its farewell to 2D side-scrolling thrillers, it’s going out on an unbeatable high.