Backlog Club: Exploring [REDACTED] And find [REDACTED] Inside’
This article is part of our new backlog club experimental series where we (Nintendo Life!) choose a game that is likely to be on our list of “games we should play” and then we (NL + you!) host next month by playing this game. This is an intermediate point, the first part of two, where we stop for a minute to check out the game and find out how much we like it.
In October 2022, to get in the mood for Halloween, we’re playing Inside! The second part will focus on the companion game Limbo…
It’s mid-October, which means it’s time to crawl out of my summer wardrobe of shorts and sunglasses and move on to my fall wardrobe of jumpers and seasonal depression. It also means it’s time to tune in to spooky things. Because of Halloween. I’ve never really understood why people want to scare themselves because I get anxious and feel that way no matter the time of year, but hey! I love to join things.
So, this month Backlog Club has chosen a fun and creepy duo: Limbo by Playdead and Inside by Playdead. Although the two games (as far as I know) aren’t connected by narrative, they’re practically brothers – both are about kids going the right way and encountering a lot of horrible creatures that want to kill and eat them. Actually, I played Limbo for a bit, but then a spider appeared, I got scared and stopped. I think it was within the first five minutes. I am a child.
But, oddly enough, although Limbo is one of those games that seems to own on every platform, even if they don’t remember what they bought, I can’t find my copy. It’s probably buried somewhere in your PS4 or iPhone account. Regardless of! I’ll just play Inside first, and then Limbo, closer to the real Halloween.
Here’s your spoiler alert – this article talks about the whole the game. Go play, it’s only for a few hours!
So! Inside begins with the boy running from the dogs and the spotlights. He probably committed some kind of crime, because he is constantly threatened with murder throughout the game – we know that he escaped, and sinister forces lurking in the shadows of the game want him back, but clearly not what bad, because they are more than happy to let him be crushed, mauled, blown up and drowned by a terrible underwater lady.
A boy evading sinister forces manages to infiltrate a sinister lab/factory which also committed a bunch of crimes, this time against humanity. They have created zombie workers who enjoy throwing themselves into pits and walls, solving puzzles with brute force, and probably not getting paid to work in hazardous conditions. In the end, the boy meets [REDACTED], and from there everything gets really… sticky? squelching? I don’t know if there is a word to describe… this.
Journalists, as I found out, are bloody love brainless worker motives and the magnetic mystery [REDACTED] inside, because there ten billion thoughts on the What does inside mean. That’s the thing – Inside refuses to tell you, with no dialogue, no in-game lore guide, and only very meager environmental clues. Even they are subject to interpretation.
I’m guessing the designers knew what they were doing and didn’t just sit in Playdead’s office and say, “Hahaha, let’s put in here a bunch of chickens you need for the Pied Piper in a big car and then brutally kill them, so you can solve the puzzle and it doesn’t mean anything at all, it’s not even some sort of omen hahaha.” No, even the weirdest things in Inside have a Point and a Goal, but it’s just an academic approach anyway – it doesn’t change the course of the game.
Except, on the one hand, it is. You see – and it’s about to get mega– spoilers, so beware – there is a secret alternate ending inside that you can only access if you beat the game and saw the ending with [REDACTED] on the [REDACTED]. You will then need to find a bunch of hidden bunkers and destroy the glowing orbs inside. So far, these are video games, right? You know the rule: destroy things, run right, get the secret thing. Perhaps this is the Warp Zone. Or you can unlock the ability to play as Inside Boy’s tall brother, who wears a green shirt instead of a red one.
Haha! Not! It’s actually a metatext commentary on the player character’s agent, fool! You have been deceived! Nyahaha!
In the secret ending, the Boy pulls out a giant fork. Why? Because that’s what you do in games. If the game says “Press A to interact”, then you do it. Because communication is fun. No questions were asked. But in Inside, when you pull that plug, you… lose control of the Boy. He falls, either dead or zombified. You, the player, were on the other side of that fork. You’re an idiot.
But there is more. In the usual ending, the Boy stretches all the way to the right, eventually to [REDACTED]as if [REDACTED] controlled him. Even though the Boy is not brainless like the zombie humans we see at some points, he is still brainless. It goes right because that’s what you are do. It goes right because you know what the games want from you. And you, the player, do it unquestioningly, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. you are a zombie. Or you [REDACTED]? Umm. I dont know. No one knows.
Playing a game that says nothing to you is refreshing and infuriating at the same time. I have no answers, only theories and questions. But my takeaway is that Playdead Inside is trying to tell a story about free rein and control where you question what it means to puppet a character, making them do whatever you want them to do, killing them over and over again because you don’t repeatedly paying attention.
Inside also does not have a true “good” ending. [REDACTED] the ending seems incomplete, ambiguous, even meaningless – there is a feeling of “oh. What now?” what you are left with in the end. You didn’t win anything, you didn’t save the princess (unless [REDACTED] princess, but this theory is not supported by the text), you just made a big mess, and now you’re on the street, well done. You don’t even know what it is [REDACTED] exist, or why it wanted to be free, or that even means for something… lumpy.
The hidden alternate ending can be seen as good (you freed the Boy from the puppeteer!) or bad (you turned the boy into another zombie!), but what does that mean for player again ambiguous. Are you a monster to use this Boy to achieve your goals? Have you sincerely tried to help him? Turning it off freed him or cursed him? No one knows!
So, for me, Inside is a game that pretends to be what we see on the screen, the story of a player who assumes that the end justifies the means, only to be disappointed and horrified that the end does not make sense at all. But in reality, Inside is a game that, like contemporary art, is more about how it resonates with the viewer than what the art itself looks like. It’s not about what we see on the screen or what we do during the game, but what remains for the player. feeling after. You are a monster? Is the boy free? it [REDACTED] has no right to the sweat of his … cones?
There are no correct answers. Only the question “why?” And, of all the questions, this is the most important. That, which must do not have the correct answer. “Why” is subjective. The “why” answer you. And it is absolutely normal if the answer is: “I don’t know.”
Okay, this is what *I* think of the Inside ending. But what do you think this means? Does it matter? Are we all in a simulation? Tell me your thoughts in the comments. Or don’t. You control your own destiny… probably.