INSIDE by Playdead games

started2019-09-02statusfinished

I played this game on an early morning train ride heading back home after a family vacation. I was inspired to do so by this tweet. Having finished the game, I agree with it completely. In the entire approximately 4 hour game, and through countless gorgeous, eerie scenes, there was a single moment that seemed unnatural (a character disappeared behind a door before the door was done closing). That's an incredible achievement given the richness of the game's world and diversity of environments. This includes the sounds, the animations, the physics, and I'm sure many more things that I appreciated but did not notice.

One thing I did not expect to appreciate as much as I did was the camerawork. It flows seamlessly throughout this unbroken side-scrolling world following you in every direction you go. Given the games 3D environments but side scrolling perspective the camera can do some pretty cool things to create very powerful but framings. Also, it responds so well to the players actions.

Take a look at this talk to see the amount of work they did to make the technical constraints of a game disappear at playtime.

Gameplay

I'd heard this game described as a puzzle platformer which was open-ended enough that I didn't really know what to expect going in. I vaguely thought I'd be moving around boxes, pushing levers, etc etc. There certainly was a bunch of that. But more so than any other game of the "genre" I've played, I forgot about the mechanics of it while playing. I was committed to each scene, trying to find the logic that would let me move forward and escape it. This was possible because of how wellthe puzzles were integrated into the logic of the world, which was constantly hinted and signalled to you, by environmental cues, sounds, past experience, etc. That's not to say the puzzles were easy, they just never felt arbitrary.

The game at points reminded me strongly of Journey. The way some moments feel like playable paintings with their visual composition and how the pace, tone, and music all line up to create these epic moments.

Also I hear the game takes a lot from Playdead's previous game, Limbo, which I very briefly began but didn't play.

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