“Dancing With Darkness”

In terms of mechanical design and narrative atmosphere, not a single game this year holds a candle to Playdead’s immaculate, stunning achievement with INSIDE. Easily one of the most polished, fine-tuned, and expertly constructed experiences of the year, INSIDE is an exercise in the beauty of refinement. It’s a title that has a lot to say, using both its complex and mysterious plot, as well as its layered gameplay, to communicate a deeply memorable and disturbing story. There’s not a single string to Playdead’s intricately woven masterpiece that feels out of place, as the entire experience carries itself with diligent, intelligent efficiency that ultimately crowns it as one of the finest games this generation.2-inside-goty-2016-braxton-haugen-imageEqually as striking in its visual presentation and evocative atmosphere, INSIDE sets a new bar for the genre of puzzle platformers as a whole. It takes the tenants of its predecessor’s magnificence and brings them to the next level, creating a lean, brilliantly paced, and deeply thought-provoking experience that’s sure to resonate with anyone with an eye for game design. One of the most fascinating elements to Playdead’s bleak platformer is that INSIDE carries its narrative beautifully, without speaking a single word. The result is a story that’s smart, subtle, and extraordinarily layered, drenched in deeper meanings sure to have you scratching your head in perplexing amazement. INSIDE is a wonderful expression of art, communicating bold ambitions with precise mechanical design, stunning animation, and a nuanced narrative that expresses some of the most memorable and unsettling material a game has encased in recent years.

Excerpt from review (9.5/10):

“Inside feels like the kind of game we’re only given two or three times a generation. It’s a unique project dripping with atmospheric style and thought-provoking messages that will surely provoke passionate discussion regarding its true intentions. While I wish some of the puzzles called for a bit more involvement on the player’s part, it was a rather insubstantial missed opportunity when looking at what the absence of extensive challenge allowed. Due to Inside’s easily understandable puzzles, the game is able to maintain an immaculate pace, ripe with shocking twists and impactful subtlety. Within Inside’s prolonged moments of stirring, thoughtful silence, Playdead’s follow-up to their impressive debut title achieves a level of profoundness not seen in its respective genre too often. Most importantly, Inside is a living and expressive exercise in what refinement can accomplish. Building off what made Limbo special, Inside embraces and strengthens the highs of what preceded it. Outstanding sound design, phenomenal art direction, and an overall haunting narrative give Inside the necessary components to surpass its stellar predecessor in almost every way imaginable. Suffice it to say, Inside is a must play and one of the finest modern examples that video games are art.”

Note: Check back every day for new entries & updates in my personal GOTY 2016 roster…

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