Inside builds a steady crescendo towards one of the most satisfying conclusions I have ever experienced. You start as a child running through a dark woods, trying to escape your pursuers and their dogs, and slowly traverse a progressively more dystopian landscape. As with most reviews of this game, I won’t go into any more details about the story, because Inside is not overly long (I completed it in around 4 hours) and is built around gradually unveiling clever and surprising variations on the game’s mechanics.
What really made me love the game, however, was its ability to set the tone so consistently and perfectly from start to finish. The landscapes are largely dark and dreary, but the lighting effects and minimalistic design creates a sense of vague, threatening unease that is offset by a haunting beauty.
Unfortunately its accessibility options are less praiseworthy. Inside is a puzzle-platformer, which means that there are precise movements that must be made within a short time frame. While the game has no dialogue, there are some sections which would benefit from some ambient noise cues; however, the game is beatable without sound and rarely punishes players that much for failure.
Inside is a 2D puzzle-platformer with a very minimal UI and control scheme. There is no HUD to keep track of, no camera to control, and no quick time event to complete. The four arrow keys and a grab button are all that is needed to play, but in spite of this, it still has its share of problems. One of the biggest problems is that the grab button must be held, rather than toggled, while pressing a movement direction. This, coupled with the games tendency to place the player in very time-sensitive sections, means that the player must make precise jumps or quick grab and run movements within a limited amount of time. Though there are incredibly frequent checkpoints, there is no way to lower the difficulty.
Its other options are also limited. You can rebind keys, but it only accepts keyboard inputs, not mouse buttons. It is certainly possible that some people could play single-handed on keyboard, but it would require some getting used to, as holding down a grab and move at the same time feels a little awkward. The onscreen keyboard also works, but that can be a bit cumbersome, as the button combinations require it to be used in conjunction with the regular keyboard.
For a game without dialogue, the hearing accessibility still has a glaring flaw. While all audio cues do have visual cues, some of the hazards make themselves known ahead of time by sound cues, such as attack dogs barking as they start chasing you from off-screen. The lack of subtitles for ambient noise is much more detrimental for Inside than it is for many other games. While the game is still beatable without sound, and the frequent checkpoints do demonstrate an expectation for players to die frequently, there will still be a number of unfair deaths if played without sound.
Overall, the visual accessibility is quite good. The monochrome landscapes can be a bit dark, but there should be no issues with any color clashes, and the way forward and necessary interactables are almost always highlighted in some way. There is no dialogue and ambient noise is not subtitled, so there are no subtitles to deal with. In a similar vein, there is no text to deal with, so one doesn’t have to worry about the font.
* Beautifully crafted world
* An amazing build up to a fantastic conclusion
* Excellent visual accessibility
* Many time sensitive segments
* No subtitles for ambient noise
* A toggle system for grab function would greatly improve the mobility accessibility