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Journey into darkness.

INSIDE Xbox One, PC IN 2010, developers Playdead released Limbo. It was the tale of a young boy on the 'edge of hell' who sets out alone in search of his sister. Facing danger in many forms, the boy soldiers on as the forest gives way to a crumbling city, and an ending that is hard to forget.

Limbo was a monochromatic masterpiece that went on to be the third biggest selling game on Xbox Live Arcade that year, raking in $7.5m and garnering Playdead with a host of richly deserved awards.

Fast forward six years, and the independent studio has finally released what it calls Limbo's spiritual sequel - Inside.

While there are instant similarities between the pair - it begins with a young boy running through a dark woodland - the little splashes of colour, the human figures and mysterious vans let you know this is going to be a very different journey.

And, in gameplay terms, it's a fairly simple journey in that you can move left or right, and jump, pull, push or swim. Simplistic controls that belie the true nature of the adventure you're about to undertake.

The bleak, almost silent, environments are hauntingly beautiful, with our young hero traipsing through rain-sodden fields littered with the corpses of pigs, crawling through crumbling buildings, diving underwater and tricking his way past security guards.

These settings create a tense, oppressive and at times, terrifying atmosphere. The trick to surviving your time in this stunning dystopia is by solving the puzzles laid out before you.

They may not be the trickiest you've ever encountered, but you get a smug sense of achievement when you've figured them out. And you'd better do it quickly, as failure to complete puzzles on time often leads to you being caught by hunters, drowning or being eaten by hungry dogs - to name but a few of the vile and inventive ways for the boy to meet his demise.

And that's where frustration can set in. As with its predecessor, you often figure out how to solve a puzzle by dying a grim death - which sees you respawn at the beginning of the sequence.

More than a little irksome.

And it's this process which, much like I found with Limbo, disrupts the flow of the tale as it unfolds.

The attention to detail is breath-taking - a slight mist on the horizon, lazily drifting dust fairies exposed in shafts of sunlight, debris sinking slowly to the bottom of the lake - all add together to create one of the most atmospheric games I've played in a long time.

Inside is only a short game, clocking in at around four hours, but it more than deserves your attention.

I can only dream of what Playdead have up their sleeve for their next game...

BUY IT: PS15.99 from the Xbox store or PS14.99 on Steam


Follow the trials and tribulations as the young hero solves puzzles in a haunting landscape in Inside

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Jul 23, 2016
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