My favorite games are heavy on the story. They’re mostly narrative-driven action or RPG games, with all of the fancy CGI cut-scenes and extensive dialogue. But every once in a blue moon, a game can come along and tell a story without saying a word.
A lot of people are casting Inside as their early game-of-the-year pick, and I’m in that company.
From the very beginning, you’re thrust into a world with no direction. There are no tutorials to be found here. No on-screen guides to tell you what objects you can and cannot manipulate. You’re as helpless as the in-game character, just trying to absorb the surroundings and figure things out along the way. In an era where a lot of games feel “dumbed down,” so to speak, Inside doesn’t.
And the game never lets up. It’s a puzzle-platforming hybrid, teaching you mechanics you’ll use for a short time before they’re tossed for new ones. Again, with no hints. You’ll probably die a lot throughout the course of the game, not in the monotonous-slash-frustrating Dark Souls way — you likely won’t die two-dozen deaths in one location — but simply because you haven’t figured out where you’re supposed to go in a new area, especially if an enemy is in pursuit. Solving a puzzle feels rewarding and encourages you to keep pushing forward.
And that story. Whoa. Again, there is no dialogue in the game. The entire tale is told through gameplay and atmosphere. Both do a spectacular job. Inside is the kind of game that will have you Googling theories as to what it all means, because you’ll be both intrigued and disturbed when you reach the credits. I’ll mention nothing — I’d prefer you experience it yourself.
tl;dr Inside is an experience you, as a gamer (on Xbox One now, and on Windows July 7), should have. I don’t do numbers. I do whether you should play it or not. You should.