Playdead released Inside on Xbox One and PC a couple of years ago, and they have now brought this evocative video game release to the Nintendo Switch. Just as it were in 2016, Inside defies explanation. The experience one has with the game is dependent on the individual and that is what makes Inside such a memorable and powerful title. The simplest way to describe Inside – an atmospheric platformer set in a dystopian environment that blends moody visuals with perfectly tuned sound design to create a powerful game experience that cannot be matched.
Much like its predecessor, Inside is a side-scrolling platform game set in a dark and atmospheric setting that has dangers lurking behind every corner. Though the game shares many qualities with Limbo, the experience one has with the game is quite different as Inside isn’t about trial and error puzzles, or unexpected deaths. It’s an engaging experience that hooks you immediately from the start and doesn’t surrender its hold until the ending credits disappear from the screen. When I saw the credits hit the screen, my first thought was – ‘What the fuck……’, and I mean that in the best way possible.
From the onset, you are put in the role of a young, unnamed boy who is on the run for reasons unknown. As you track through the opening forest environment, you’ll see patrol units and K9 hounds searching for you. If detected, you may be shot on sight, or a hound may pursue you – but if the dog catches you, it will kill you in a violent manner. Navigating your way through the woods is suspenseful and loaded with moments of tension as you hear a hound howl in the distance as it begins its hunt to catch and kill you.
The opening minutes will have you on the edge of your seat, and you’ll sigh in relief when you escape the patrol, but that feeling of reprieve is soon replaced with a sense of despair. Without spoiling too much of the experience for you, you make your way to a facility conducting unearthly experiments that will leave you with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Even with no verbal or written dialogue, the atmosphere of the setting and environment speaks loud enough to provide the player with an idea of what is happening, and it’s of a disturbing nature.
Since most of the game is reliant on experiencing and discovering things for yourself, I won’t want to go into any great detail about the game’s other areas. I want you – the player – to experience the game first-hand and to experience the game in a pure form.
What I will discuss, however, are the game’s puzzles and other gameplay points. Unlike Limbo, which has trial and error based puzzles, the puzzles found in Inside are much more organic in nature – meaning they feel as though they reside and belong to the game’s setting. None of the puzzles are too mentally demanding, but some require minor bouts of backtracking.
In my opinion, the best puzzles are the ones that have multiple factors at play. For example, one puzzle will require you to track an underwater enemy’s movement, open a submerged gate, and somehow manage to surface before the underwater mermaid-type enemy manages to catch you and drown you.
Gameplay wise, the game is constantly changing and surprising you with fresh ideas. Pretending to be one of the human experiments to sneak past guards, steering a submarine, or mentally controlling the zombie-like populace, the game introduces new ways to overcome the obstacles placed ahead you. Inside offers a nice blend of platforming, puzzle solving, and stealth sections to create a stimulating gaming experience.
In its transition to the Nintendo Switch from more powerful hardware – like the Xbox One, we found that the game runs at a slower frame-rate; however, given the nature and pacing of Inside, this isn’t a change that will impact the enjoyment one has while playing. Inside runs well in both docked and handheld mode. I found myself preferring handheld mode, as it allowed for quick play sessions during the evening.
Playdead’s Inside was an exceptional release on prior platforms, and it is just as haunting on the Nintendo Switch. The game is well-suited for portable play, especially in the evening, as you immerse yourself into the atmosphere of the game’s setting. Inside is the rare gem that one must experience to truly understand and to appreciate.