Back in 2010, a Danish indie studio called Playdead released a macabre side-scroller called Limbo. It was good. In 2016, that same studio is releasing a new macabre side-scroller. This one’s called Inside, and it’s really, really good.
About a week ago, they sent us a couple of Xbox One codes for the game. I wasn’t expecting them; in fact, I’d kind of forgotten Inside was a thing. I vaguely remembered seeing a trailer during an E3 press conference. It looked a lot like Limbo, right? Who knows. Let’s play it.
The next three and a half hours involved me staring at my screen saying “holy shit” with ever-increasing volume. I played the game from start to finish in one sitting. I laughed a lot, often in horror. My hand would fly up to block my eyes from what was happening on screen.
I was dying for someone to talk to about it, so I started texting my boss Stephen, who was also playing. I mostly just yelled half-intelligible things at him until I finished the game.
Here’s a short video of a couple of early sections:
At first glance, Inside appears to be an evolution of what Playdead did with Limbo. You play as a little boy, you solve tricky puzzles, you die in horrifying but darkly funny ways. That’s an accurate way to think of the game, but it doesn’t do justice to just how much of an evolution it is.
I don’t really want to say too much, because the game’s constant escalating surprises are a big part of what makes it so much fun. I’ve played it through twice, and while I still appreciated the artistry and humor the second time around, it definitely lost something compared with my first run.
Inside will come out on Xbox One on June 29 and Windows/Steam on July 7. You can play through it in a single evening. If you can keep from watching or reading anything else about it before then, I recommend it.
The embargo we agreed to says we can’t “review” the game just yet, so I guess this isn’t technically a review. This is just me saying that, top to bottom, Inside is one of the coolest games I’ve played in a long time. It’s an immaculately assembled, pitch-black joke that takes three and a half hours to tell. You gotta play it.