Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Game Review: Inside

Screengrab from Inside, new Xbox One exclusive. Photo / Supplied
Screengrab from Inside, new Xbox One exclusive. Photo / Supplied

Watching a young boy being ripped to pieces by an attack dog isn't a pleasant experience. Neither is fleeing through a dimly lit forest before being shot down by armed guards.

Or frantically swimming away from troll sharks that will leave your guts spilling through the water.

These things will happen to you in Inside, another essential release - after 2010's Limbo - from indie developers Playdead and you will have to be okay with that. Because you will want to see Inside through to its unbelievable gut-punch conclusion. It's just that type of game.

Inside proves there is life left in the humble platformer. Essentially a 2D sidescroller, you play as a young boy hiding in a forest, lost and on the run. As you help him work his way past trees, through compounds and across the rooftops of industrial complexes, Inside's muddy story starts becoming clearer.

The darkened rooms, moving shadows and oppressive music makes it feel like something bad is always about to happen. It inevitably does.

Screengrab from Inside, new Xbox One exclusive.  Photo / Supplied
Screengrab from Inside, new Xbox One exclusive. Photo / Supplied

Every moment feels like it could be a matter of life or death, and Inside does a great job of making sure you care about a character you know virtually nothing about.

Within this state of terror are terrifying yet compelling moments, from giant industrial robot guards who will snare your ankles with chains, to industrial bomb blasts that will tear you to shreds.

At one point, you'll be asked to masquerade as a marching zombie and dance on command.

About 40 minutes in, when you first command your own zombie troops, you'll realise this game is not what you think it is.

Inside's mysterious narrative is woven through some incredibly simple game mechanics. You can run, climb, and occasionally interact with objects. Only two buttons on the Xbox One controller do anything.

You'll need to solve puzzles, but they're not hard. Like Limbo, it always becomes obvious what you need to do. And because this is a platformer, you always know where you need to go.

But the game's graphic style, clouded imagery, Lost-style mystery and emotional impact create a lasting effect.

Screenshot from Inside, new Xbox One exclusive. Photo / Supplied
Screenshot from Inside, new Xbox One exclusive. Photo / Supplied

When that ending finally hits, after four hours of gameplay spent glued to the screen, it's like a slap across the face.

You'll immediately want to play it again.

I did, and I'll play it a third time too. Because I think we may have just found our Game of the Year.


Platforms: Xbox One
Rating: M
For fans of: Limbo, The Witness, Journey
Verdict: Creepy platformer a terrifying journey

- TimeOut

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 Sep 2016 13:48:37 Processing Time: 505ms