The term "dichotomy" comes to mind when I think about Playdead's Inside. It is two things at once - it is a beautiful piece of art, one which demands your attention; but, of equal measure, it doesn't really feel worth the time invested (even though there it isn't that long). My enjoyment levels for Inside read like a sine wave - Top level, down, bottom, up, top level, et cetera. Let's break down exactly why I feel this way.
First and foremost, good god this game is aesthetically stunning. Part of me wants to say "beautiful," but then I recall that the game is conveying some very ugly, grizzly imagery. Playdead is consistent with their amazing stylistic choices - both Inside and Limbo are (in my opinion) most memorable for their amazing art. The overly cartoony characters with their over-the-top animations work wonders, and the fact that there is so much hand-animated, unique art throughout the experience is breathtaking. There were parts where my mouth was left agape, thinking "this is unlike anything I've ever seen." This rings true especially towards the ending. I would say the last hour of Inside is the most impressive, and it is completely worth seeing.
I also feel that the artistic works of this game extend far beyond just the visuals! The audio design and soundtrack complement every moment of the game from start to finish. Though it is a simple thing, the attention to detail among footsteps is what caught my attention the most. The environment all sounds appropriate, and there is a moment in which there are giant heavy machines making huge shockwaves, and those had the appropriate amount of force behind every swing. Again, I cannot emphasize how amazing the artistic side of this game is.
Unfortunately, in order to experience Inside, you probably have to play it. I have programmed games, and I understand the want to make something that is both fun for the player, and impressive to behold. Sometimes the balance between design and gameplay is difficult to strike, and I think Playdead missed the mark by a wide margin in this regard. The puzzles are, largely, awful. There is one puzzle in particular which made me almost turn the game off because it was so poorly constructed (for those who have played it, this is the fence & dogs puzzle). For the most part, it feels like "hold right, jump over thing, pick up thing, repeat." It never feels nuanced, it never feels fun. I can honestly say there was a grand total of one puzzle I enjoyed in my experience with Inside, and it was within the last five minutes. There were some memorable little puzzles in-between (such as the pseudo rhythm game puzzle), but I would not go so far as to say any of them were good. Truth be told, my dislike of playing Inside is what dropped this two whole stars for me. If I were simply watching someone play Inside, and never had to touch a controller, this would likely be a 5-star game; but, unfortunately, I cannot justify that. It isn't fun to play - full stop.
Lastly, in a spoiler-free way, I must say that the last sequence of Inside is insanely well made. The programming that must have been involved with the mechanics of the last stage are mind-blowing to me, especially given how it affects the controls, your character, and the way you interact with the world. Many kudos to the developers for making that - it was unexpected, and perfectly executed.
I find a recommendation for Inside difficult. If you have the opportunity to watch someone else play it, I fully recommend it; but if it is you who is playing, I suggest you exercise caution. It is not fun, but I think it is worth seeing through to the end. Maybe wait for a sale, would be my top advice.