If you already have any interest whatsoever in playing Inside, stop reading this right now and play the game. The less you know about it going in, the better. Just sit down and enjoy the experience.
Inside is a short (~4hr) play that presents as compelling a case as any I’ve seen for why video games are a unique storytelling medium. The gameplay mechanics you’ll recognize: you walk/run from left to right, you jump, you interact a little with the environment, you avoid enemies. In lame-o terms, it’s a 2D platformer, like Super Mario Bros.
But what is so remarkable about Inside is that it embeds meaningfulness into these actions, the walking and jumping and such. There is a rich world all around you, mysterious and dangerous and sad and sometimes strangely hopeful, and your simple progression from left to right tells a powerful tale. You will see things that make you pause in order to absorb what is happening, views that stop you from breathing for a second, moments that convey incredible, conflicting emotions.
It does all this without uttering a single word. There is brilliant environmental storytelling, and brilliant co-opting and subversion of the player’s actions to tell the story. It is a linear experience, but every beat feels earned and like it is deliberately the result of your actions. Despite being so short, the game took something like six years to make, and it shows in the care and detail of every single moment in the game. Nothing is wasted or repeated here.
In short, Inside is a marvel, and to tell you any specifics of the plot would be to ruin the best part of the experience. Holy hell do things happen in this game, and they stay with you after you put down the controller. It is the video game I will introduce to any friends who are willing to listen to me that games are an important new narrative medium.
Go play Inside. Please.