Sunday, October 15, 2017

Inside + Limbo Double Pack

Limbo is a game I knew about back when it released in 2010, however I had never actually played it for whatever reason. By contrast, I knew absolutely nothing about Inside, even when it first released in 2016, so I did not know that it had been done by the same developer as Limbo, Playdead, until the release of the recent Inside + Limbo Double Pack for PS4 and Xbox One. Though I saw this as an opportunity to finally see what the fuss was about with Limbo, my lack of knowledge on them sharing a developer led to me playing Inside first, as it had gotten top billing on the package. Either way, from playing the PS4 version of the collection, I found it overall to be a rather interesting experience.

Both games follow a young-looking boy on a mysterious quest, which is all I can really say about the stories of both games without possibly spoiling it. I can say, though, that the way each game drops you into the present situation is actually pretty engaging, as it makes you want to try and figure out what’s going on the further you get into it. Whether or not it pays off is entirely subjective, however the minimalist presentation of each game does keep you guessing until the very end (and possibly even afterwards).

The gameplay is similar across both games, utilizing minimal controls to solve environmental puzzles to move forward; this also gives the game more accessibility akin to a Thatgamecompany game, only with a much less family-friendly tone (Limbo and Inside are each rated T and M respectively by the ESRB). Both games also use a rather minimal soundtrack, which helps to highlight key moments as they come up and build up an atmosphere that the player can get sucked into. As an additional feature between games, there’s also some secret collectibles that the game gives you no warning about and can reward you with a different ending for finding them all. I managed to miss all of the collectibles in Inside and stumbled upon some in Limbo, however I don’t feel like scouring the games again to find all of them.

Though there are many similarities between both games, let’s look at the little things that make them stand apart from each other.

The graphical style of Inside contrasts with the previously-released Limbo, presenting itself in 2.5D with bright colors. The general aesthetic is rather minimalist, taking on a uniquely blocky appearance that is pleasing to the eye. The deaths the player character can face for messing up can get still get rather graphic, much like its predecessor Limbo, however the fact that the gore is largely bloodless does not stop it from earning its M rating. The fact that the setting is more 3-dimensional leads to some stunning backdrops, however the details found within them are what add to the game’s own sense of atmosphere and overall experience.

By contrast with Inside, Limbo employs an even more minimalist 2D style, with silhouettes very heavily employed to give the game its very iconic look. So iconic is this style, in fact, that electronic musician Deadmau5 (himself a gamer) used it as inspiration for the music video to his song “The Veldt”, the lyrics to which draw from the Ray Bradbury story of the same name (incidentally, due to the timing of the music video’s release, it is dedicated to Bradbury’s memory). Though it, too, has some gruesome death animations (I even jumped the first few times it happened), the game has a T rating and features a complete lack of blood. I would draw a comparison to the film Logan, in that the Logan Noir version somehow appears less bloody despite being the exact same movie, which can be attributed to the fact the Noir version is in black and white as opposed to color.

On their own, Limbo and Inside are both interesting games to play at least once, as each are good at creating an atmosphere with great visuals. Though their gameplay styles have some general similarities, they do enough in other areas to stand out from each other and immerse you in their respective worlds. As each one can be purchased individually, the collection doesn’t provide anything new to existing fans aside from owning both games on a physical disc. Notably, the game takes a page from Journey Collector’s Edition and allows you to install each game separately from the disc, so those that have only played one of the games on consoles can simply install and play whatever they haven’t already played. Those that have not played either game will get a great deal out of this collection, especially if they can get it at a discount. If you are new to either game, it really is best to go in blind and experience their stories for yourself firsthand.

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