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  • Writer's pictureIndy Goodwin

Obscurity isn't an artform: Indy Plays Inside

Updated: Apr 29

Inside is the worst example of a game trying too hard to be art. There. I said it. Playdead, of Limbo fame, created the most pointless and frustrating experience I've ever had playing a video game, and that's saying something.

This is the part of the article where I'd normally summarise the story. The problem is there isn't one. All I can tell you is that you play an unnamed little boy running through a variety of environments and solving puzzles for... some reason I guess? I still don't know. You are chased by all manner of enemies including a mermaid and I can't tell you why that happens either. The game culminates in you finding an amphorus mass of flesh which you disconnect from its chains and then promptly absorbs you. You spent the last ten minutes of the game as a shambling eldritch horror trying to escape your confinement. Finally the blob breaks through the last barrier and comes to rest near water while the sun shines on it. The game ends.

I blink slowly at the credits. Surely that can't be it? A furious Google search tells me there is a secret ending! Yes! Okay let's go get all these orb thingies and see what happens then. I collect the last orb, make my way through the Konami code-esque door and pull out some cables out of a wall. My character slumps forward. The screen fades to black. When the title screen reappears signalling the end of the game I throw my controller clear across the room.

I'm a staunch supporter of the capacity of games to be pieces of art. I believe very strongly in it, I've seen some beautifully crafted pieces in my time worthy of being called art - Everybody's Gone To The Rapture for example. This isn't one of them. Playdead have confused artistry with obscurity. Rather than telling us a story the devs have slapped a load of random puzzle ideas together, made the barest of plot lines to jankily knot it all together and then fucked off to the pub early.

Even more infuriating? They don't even have the integrity to admit it, instead going for an aloof response when asked for clarification on the game’s story. In my research for this article furious tirade I found that their silence reached meme status on reviews of the game, commonly reading: 10/10, I refuse to say anything further.

10/10 is far too generous however. The only good things I can say about are that the art direction is very good, managed to take some bleak screenshots and the light physics are also very complex. I do appreciate the attention to detail. All of this does mean very little without the bones of a good story to put it on though.

Now Indy, I hear you cry. They did their best! They were trying to tell a story without using words! I refuse to give them credit for that, I don't believe they deserve it. In earlier days perhaps I might have looked on their efforts more kindly, but Tarsier Studios and their Herculean efforts with the Little Nightmares series puts this paltry attempt to shame. Excellent stories can be told without dialogue, this feels more like laziness, a certain arrogance on the part of the storyteller to refuse to elaborate on their tale.

While we're on the subject of arrogance as well, refusing to provide even the barest of hints when it came to alternate controls for puzzles - ie the submarine dash needed to solve a puzzle - or even how to use the chapter select, OR THAT THERE WAS EVEN A CHAPTER SELECT AVAILABLE is incredibly bad form.

Inside was a poor attempt at a game. I regret playing it. An utterly pointless grimdark puzzle fest with no heart. 0/10, see me after class.

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