Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Adventure & Puzzle
Release Date: June 28, 2018 (Worldwide)
Just when you thought the journey through Limbo was over, another one beckons!
In the recent years, many forgotten franchises and games have been revived not through new titles in the franchise or a new sequel, but through spiritual successors. Some games that fall into this category can end up being considered an excellent new title, such as the case with the games Perfect Dark (Goldeneye 007’s spiritual successor) and Dark Souls (Demon Souls’ spiritual successor). But some of these games fail to capture the essence and end up being anything but, like Mighty No. 9.
Not only is Inside the spiritual successor to Limbo, it is also developed and published by Playdead, (the developer and publisher behind Limbo) that first appeared on consoles and PC in 2016, and was ported to iOS devices a year later before at long last, seeing a simultaneous release alongside with Limbo, on Switch.
When developing Inside, Playdead opted to maintain the grim atmosphere that was present in Limbo’s visuals, but they also went a little further with it. Inside presents players with a 2.5D perspective that allows them to see and comprehend even more of the environment and even allows some interactions between the background and the foreground.
They also elevated the color spectrum used in Inside compared to the grayscale present in Limbo, which they used to express different ideas and feelings, to give emphasis in certain places and characters and to create a bigger contrast between your character and the world. This made the world look even more grim and depressing than the one that appeared in Limbo.
Another aspect that the developers perfected with Inside, is the use of audio to create a more precise and necessary atmosphere. During most of the game, silence will be present with only the sound effects happening as you explore. This makes the game feel raw and primitive, which ends up creating a strange sensation as you play and even some surprises throughout the game. When the game uses music (a situation limited to a few instances), it creates a tense atmosphere that is very effective, but can also prepare you to what will come ahead and to react quickly to it.
One of the details that the developers put a lot of dedication on maintaining when making this spiritual successor, was the way they tell the story. Just like in Limbo, you are thrown into the gameplay without any explanation of what is happening, who are you or what you are after. And that situation will continue throughout your adventure as there aren’t any cut-scenes or dialogues to explain what is going on.
If you want to try to understand the story you will have to pay attention to the surroundings, background and areas that you visit and go through (or check the many theories on the internet). Even after you finished, whether you found the main ending or the alternative one, you are left with many unanswered questions that are up to you to deduce or try to understand from your own perspective. (After beating the game, feel free to comment me your interpretation, by tweeting to @RenanChronicles on Twitter).
Another thing that they kept from the other game, is the simplicity of the controls. You still can only walk, jump and hold (pull, push, grab, etc) and those actions are mapped out to the left stick, B and A buttons, respectively. That classic control style allows the game to never need to explain anything or show a tutorial, but if you need to, you can always see it on the pause menu.
Just like in Limbo, the variety in the puzzles you will find comes from the combination of the simple actions with a variety of different objects that are present around the areas. And I have to say that Playdead perfected the puzzle design for this experience, as the difficulty is just so and the right amount of clever observation of the surrounding area/ places you have access will always provide you with a clear solution. One thing to mention, is that now that are bigger puzzle areas that work as well as the smaller ones, proving that they really understood how to make this an amazing puzzle-platform experience.
They also kept the concept of not punishing the player for trying a puzzle solution or not understanding how something works on the first try, which is a nice thing. Of course, you still have to face the death animations and they are more gruesome and harder to watch than ever thanks to the 3D visuals, but you will restart in a checkpoint right before the puzzle you just died on. The checkpoints are also great save points, so it allows for one long playthrough or one that you can play for short periods of time, valuing on the main characteristics of the Nintendo Switch.
Lastly, there aren’t any new features and contents on this version that will satiate those that already played it a lot and found every secret on other consoles or PC since it released in 2016. The only addition to this version is the use of the HD Rumble that ends up being an interesting addition, but one that could also have been implemented in more locations and situations than it was. In addition to this, I ran into 2 or 3 visual glitches that only lasted for 1 second, but was something that I wasn’t expecting after the perfect and glitchless port of Limbo.
Inside is a game that takes the foundations that Playdead established with Limbo, along with the knowledge they earned from the experience and made a game that is better than Limbo in almost every sense. Of course, this isn’t a game for everyone’s taste, but those who liked Limbo or just like a good puzzle platformer, will certainly appreciate what Inside has to offer you. Plus with the existence of a second ending, there is a reason to dive right into a second playthrough!
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*Review Key Provided by Playdead
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