Playdead seems to have a weird obsession with putting children in nightmarish situations. Limbo featured a little boy, who may or may not be dead, running through a black and white world of saw blades, abandoned hotels, and giant spiders. Inside features yet another boy in peril, but the bizarre world and great platforming controls make it feel even better than their previous child terror experience.
A Whole New (Weird) World
Inside stars a red-shirted boy who tries to traverse a world that seems vaguely post-apocalyptic, although we never quite learn what the deal is. You start out in a forest trying to not get captured by gangs of evil mask-wearing children, and from there you try to stay alive against the threats of feral pigs, mermaid kids, and extreme meteorological events.
Trying to describe the story of Inside is pretty much a lost cause, as everything that happens is just a series of unfortunate and surreal events that befall our lead lad. You will pick up bits and pieces of the world’s lore by moving forward, but that will just make you wonder more about what's happening. All I want to say is that if Limbo’s ending made you a little puzzled, then Inside’s ending is going you make you absolutely flabbergasted - and also giddy from hysterical laughter.
Don't Get Caught
It’s a 2D platformer, and your little boy protagonist will perform the usual actions such as jumping, running, pushing, pulling, climbing, and wearing a helmet that controls zombie workers to do his bidding. You know, standard platformer stuff. The jumping and running feel weighty and realistic for a grade school aged child. I swear that Playdead has the action in their games timed to some scientific level of perfection, as there were many moments where it seemed like I made a jump, or dove into a hiding spot just in the nick of time before I was caught by one of the various horrors around. If you do happen to get caught, they made sure to show the pretty nasty consequences that those failures have on our boy hero.
The real draw of Inside is experiencing the bleak, surreal setting Playdead has created, which is full of little details that made me ask so many questions. Why are there groups of murderous children after me? What caused all the pigs to either die, or go crazy? Who is creating these weird zombie workers? Well, Playdead isn't really in the business of giving answers. While that does frustrate me a little bit, I’m so fascinated by this place that it more than makes up for my complete confusion.
Inside is a fantastic little platforming experience that really needs to be played to the very end. It is a little on the short side, but every set piece you encounter is so full of scary, amusing, and downright insane moments, that it doesn't feel like there's any wasted space. Even going back to it again after all this time, I was still enthralled all the way through. So, if playing a game where a little boy potentially dies in horrible ways sounds appealing, you should probably get it now while it's still free on the Epic Games Store.
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
Inside is available now for free on the Epic Games Store. Inside is also available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.