QCF: INSIDE
Saturday, August 27, 2016
GeorgieBoysAXE in INSIDE, Limbo, Playdead, QCF Reviews, Xbox 360, Xbox One, microsoft

t isn’t often that the visual style of a game in motion can be so evocative to the mind, and on that same token, so indicative to the disquietude that lingers after your each, and every move on screen—it’s a feeling that’s eerie, yet fascinating.

Playdead’s latest venture for the Xbox One delivers that sort of vibe in every sense you could think of, and then some—the spiritual successor to LIMBO is an evolution in every aspect, from its enthralling puzzle design, to its chilling conveyance of atmosphere.

What made the presentation of LIMBO so effective to the senses was its use of minimalism, being just poignant enough to illustrate what it needed to, while implicitly planting the suggestively grisly nature of its violence to the imagination of the player—INSIDE is a bit of different beast though.

Borrowing a large number of LIMBO’s elements and narrative, INSIDE puts you in the role of yet another unnamed little boy who’s tasked with an unfortunate mission that isn’t entirely revealed at first, and a load of enemies and risks to his health than any other boy his age should ever have to contend with at all.

Unlike the ambiguous direction in LIMBO however, the plot actually follows through with remaining consistent with its introduction of the antagonists. A clandestine organization dead set on shutting down the protagonist’s efforts from the early going, in a plot pace that actually elaborates more upon what their scheme is, and a discernible scale of what it is that we’re exactly after in this quest of life or death.

The premise isn’t the only thing that’s gotten deeper here, as INSIDE introduces a new set of depth to its gameplay that’s deceptively more complex than you could have ever imagined.

Gone are the black and white silhouettes and gradations that punctuated the graphical presence of its predecessor, as the scenery is now garnished with dulcet colors, and moody shades of lighting and contrast to bring the world of INSIDE to life. Playdead didn’t just stop at upgrading the aesthetic of the Xbox One exclusive, as players are now transported into a fully 3D rendered world as opposed to a two-dimensional one, while still deploying a forced side-scrolling perspective that moves in a paneled fashion, rotating the larger environment around it through a pseudo-2.5D dynamic.

This change to the game’s stage design slaps a whole new layer of vigilance to the formula as you’re not only working to be wary of any of the dangers that lurks in the foreground, but anything that even seems remotely remiss within the background as well. In the early onset of the campaign, I gradually came to discover that I was being watched by my aggressors, taking notice that they were stalking my progress slowly but surely, until I was inevitably discovered, and hunted from there on.

It’s in these moments where instant death looms around every corner, that INSIDE shows just how much more superior it is to LIMBO while still managing to maintain a semblance of the same charm that made its gameplay so intriguing. INSIDE uses the unavoidable sense of familiarity that you have with it from the previous title, and engineers a direction that reasonably challenges your reflexes and platforming acumen in a manner that doesn’t come across like a trial and error flow the way LIMBO did. Observing even the slightest difference in the setting and hazards that occupy it is a tactic that will become more, and more intuitive the further you scour the dystopian world of the title. Every obstacle works to impart a lesson that will come in handy later within a different puzzle—everything encountered here becomes more, and more intentional as you carry on.

It’s pretty hard to go into more detail because half of the fun to this platformer is within all of the surprising spectacles that it has to .offer, and how it all unfolds the grand mystery it’s teasing, that your advancement works to solve up until the point where you finally reach the end of the line.

INSIDE isn’t ground-breaking by any stretch of the word, but that was never Playdead’s goal with the game either; it’s an evolution—the game that they wanted to make all along after LIMBO’s success was able to pioneer the way for them to reach this point. It may be short, but that doesn’t make it any less memorable, and anyone with an Xbox One needs this in their collection, denying themselves otherwise would just be a disservice to their ownership of the Microsoft console.

Article originally appeared on Press Pause Radio (http://www.presspauseradio.com/).
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