As part of last month’s podcast on indie RPGs, I played Limbo and while it did a lot of things right, I was well aware that it wasn’t a perfect game (few are, after all).
In fact, Limbo is now 10 years old (which I would now class as retro) and even though Playdead’s follow-up was released six years later, that still makes it nearly 4 years old!
The two games are incredibly similar and if you’re a fan, you’d probably say they improved on Limbo. However, if you’re not, you could easily criticise the game for being just more of the same.
So how good is Inside, really? Is it actually better than Limbo?
- Incredibly atmospheric music
- Fantastic visual storytelling
- Engaging environments and level design
- Floaty controls
- Hit-and-miss puzzle design
- Overreliance on set-pieces
Much like with Limbo, Inside plops you into a world with little explanation of what you’re doing there and why. The developers have definitely stuck to the show-don’t-tell philosophy when it comes to narrative and this results in some of the best visual storytelling I’ve ever seen in a game.
When paired with the exceptional music, Inside is really engaging and it’s very easy to get sucked in and forget about the outside world. I’d definitely recommend that you play this game on your own and give it your full attention.
Of course, as it’s cut from the same cloth as Limbo, a lot of the same problems are there. For one, this isn’t a twitchy platformer that rewards dexterous digits but you’re supposed to enjoy the wonderful environments rather than just hop across them.
I fully understand that you’re not controlling an acrobat but the protagonist (a young boy) tends to run around like he’s waist-deep in treacle and I think the sluggish controls sometimes harm the experience, especially when paired with some of the puzzles.
As for the puzzles, much like its predecessor, it has you doing set-pieces in which player input is a matter of memorising the pattern and timing of movements to avoid scripted environmental hazards.
With only one solution for each problem, I often felt like I was a passenger in the game whose only role was to create the conditions for theatrical set-pieces dreamt up by the developers. Sometimes, these would work and create incredible gameplay moments and other times, a lack of player agency would make me question if I was even playing the game or if it was playing me.
Personally, I prefer Inside to Limbo as it improved on almost everything its predecessor did. After all, Inside is essentially a sequel even though it doesn’t take place in the same universe.
If you enjoyed Limbo, you’ll enjoy Inside. If you were on the fence, then Inside might just be engaging enough to be worth your time and money.
Inside was developed by Playdead and is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.