Inside is a perfect example of quality over quantity in video games. I beat this game in a mere four hours and then half of that upon a second playthrough after learning the solutions to all the puzzles but I was absolutely mesmerized by almost every second of it.
Inside tells one of the smartest, most intriguing, and thought-provoking stories in the history of gaming, without a single line of spoken dialogue. So much of it is left shrouded in ambiguity and left up to the interpretation of the player but it still manages to be cohesive and deliver its central messages of control and individualism with such razor-sharp precision, as well as consistently subvert your expectations. And it all concludes with an absolutely shocking ending that initially blew me away and also disappointed me the first time I saw those credits roll but I later had a change of heart after watching the alternate ending and giving it all some thought and time to process.
The visuals and sound design here are incredible too, easily Inside's most noteworthy achievement outside of the story. The game's atmosphere is bleak, mysterious, and oppressive, the images are breathtaking, the lighting and animation is top notch, the industrial sounds will scare the living hell out of you, and the 3D environments have a ton of little details that can unlock a whole new world of narrative depth if paid attention to.
Now, what about the gameplay? Well, that's where the game falters because Inside is certainly not perfect in this regard. I've consistently stressed the importance of gameplay over visuals so I can't make any acceptions here even if I wanted to. The gameplay consists of three core elements: puzzles, threat management, and platforming. (if you can even call it that) The puzzles are by no means bad, it's just that a lot of them are recycled a ton throughout the game which is a real pain especially considering how long it is and after you find the solution to these puzzles it makes playing through the game multiple times feel tedious because there's only one way to solve said puzzles. The threat management is actually pretty cool and can offer some super intense moments but is also recycled frequently although not to the same degree as the puzzles and Playdead's idea of platforming takes up around half of your gameplay experience but consists of nothing but pushing the analog stick left or right and clicking x here and there, but the unnamed boy does control very responsively and precise. Although Inside is very memorable its also very much a one and done type of game due to its linearity and a severe lack of gameplay mechanics.
Overall I can definitely see this game rubbing someone the wrong way, I love the game, for the most part, but I can still admit it's got quite a few flaws. The story just might not click and the simplicity of the gameplay might be off-putting to some but for me, the presentation, story, and world building alone sell this game.
Positives - great visuals, animation, story, atmosphere, and sound design
Negatives - tedious puzzles, and uninteresting platforming
Overall score - 3/5