For whatever reason, it seems like the fourth quarter of 2017 has been an absolute golden age of ports hitting the App Store. Playdead's Inside [Free] was just released, and we were lucky enough to be able to play through the game beforehand. As far as the iOS port is concerned, Playdead absolutely knocked this one out of the park. It's totally universal across the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, optimized for the iPhone X, supports MFi controllers, and has totally seamless iCloud save syncing. The touch controls are even well done, and it's a free download with a one-time $6.99 (as of this writing) unlock. If there's a box they're not checking with this port, I don't know what it is. Unfortunately, I'm just not sure if I really enjoyed the game that much... But, more on that later.

To give a little history on the legacy of Inside, it's effectively a spiritual successor to Limbo [$3.99]. (A game which we also didn't like that much, resulting in a review which was far more controversial than we expected.) Inside was originally released last summer on the Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4, with about a month between each platform's release. It takes place in a mysterious, surreal dystopian world with an actual color palette instead of Limbo's stark black and white art style. It was generally received favorably by critics, and won loads of awards for its art direction and sound design.

Inside starts with a bang, with absolutely no introduction. The game loads, and there you are, a boy running through the woods. You continue running to the right, and quickly begin to realize that something isn't right here. You see humanoid figures being loaded into a truck and eventually encounter some guards. Chances are, they'll kill you- Not just kill you, but violently strangle you. You then respawn a few seconds back at a checkpoint, and the trial and error begins of what sorts of things you can possibly do differently to avoid being killed by the guard.

The rest of the game more or less persists in a similar fashion. You'll be mauled to death by dogs, shot to death, fall to your death, get tasered by robots, run over by pigs, drown, and so much more while solving puzzles to keep the game going. These puzzles start simple, and initially just involve moving boxes around to get up on a platform that's a bit out of your reach. However, it won't take long before you're plugged into a mind control helmet to control these husk-like humanoid creatures, solving puzzles involving switches, levers, raising and lowering water, and loads more.

What I didn't like about these puzzles is that it rarely seemed like there was any middle ground between those that are incredibly obvious and other puzzles that leave you totally stumped. One of the things that makes Inside so beautiful is there's absolutely no UI, or any visual clutter beyond turning your device into a window looking inside of this strange world. Unfortunately, that also sometimes leads to what can be best described as adventure game pixel hunting. You know when you're playing Monkey Island, or any similar game and you're not sure what to do next so you just start clicking absolutely everything? More than a few of Inside's puzzles gave me a similar vibe, as rarely are you given any kind of cue as to what you're supposed to do next- You just die until you figure it out.

Even more irritating is the number of things in the game which will just kill you with absolutely no indication to the player that it's even hazardous. You'll trip over seemingly innocuous bumps in the game world while being chased, stumble, and die. You'll walk over boards that break, falling to your death, and many other things like this. The checkpointing system is generous, so you never lose any progress when this happens, but it's just exhausting to constantly feel like the game is saying "HA HA! GOT 'EM!" so often in ways which aren't even that interesting.

This all just becomes generally draining to keep playing, particularly as every mistake you try as you hunt for solutions results in an incredibly grotesque death. The game's atmosphere also really begins to fade when you're constantly being pulled out of it dying over and over due to frustrating puzzles and death traps. I suppose you could argue that playing a game like this is supposed to be draining and frustrating, but that's really just not why I typically play video games.

The problem is, I think I'd have enjoyed just watching a YouTube video of someone else playing Inside more than I liked playing it myself... Which is a real weird realization to come to when you're trying to review a game. In doing so, I'd experience all the art and sound, along with the ending which is ambiguous enough to spawn fan theories, all without the grueling repetition of trial and error death puzzles.

Anyway, without an MFi controller connected, you'll make your way through the world of Inside with touch controls that work quite well. You move your finger right or left to send your character running in that direction, swiping up jumps, and touching and holding the screen allows you to interact with objects in the game world. What's especially neat is that these swipes aren't separated by the left or right side of the screen like a lot of virtual controls, instead you really just play with one finger. This initially may feel a little odd, as we've been programmed to move with our left thumb and jump with our right thumb, but after a brief adjustment you'll be dying over and over in the hellscape of Inside.

Inside is also a game you'll want to play with headphones if possible, as the sound design is incredible and adds loads to the overall atmosphere of the game. If you're the kind of person who typically plays mobile games on mute, don't make that mistake here.

This is a weird review, of a weird game. I probably would've scored Inside quite a bit lower had the port not be so unbelievably well done. I started playing it on my iPad, and it occurred to me that I should check and see if it's iPhone X optimized. I downloaded the game on my iPhone, and not only is it in full iPhone X widescreen, but it just automagically loaded my save game from my iPad on the first launch without me needing to do anything. This kind of cross-compataibility and iCloud syncing magic is the exact kind of future I want to be living in. Developers bringing their games to the App Store from other platforms should take a good long look at Inside.

If you enjoyed Limbo (or similar trial and error puzzle games), chances are you didn't even need this review to smash the buy button- You'll really dig Inside. However, if you're like me and aren't really into the obtuseness of it all, there's a lot to like about it but I'm not sure I'd consider the game a must-have.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • metalcasket

    Don’t think this review is gonna get the same kind of backlash the LIMBO one got, but eh...try knocking half a star off and let’s see what happens. 😉

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Let's just say the unbelievably high quality of the port might've boosted this score a good one to one and a half stars.

  • dancingcrane

    I appreciate a review that talks about the difficulties of a game like this. I love atmosphere, music and beautiful games. However I have nowhere near the time, nor the reaction time I used to have. The developers are very kind to give us the chance to find out if we can even play it. I highly support the true free to play demo, with chance to unlock the full game.

  • gquiller

    Ugh!

  • Nightxx

    Would have been great if it had iOS 10 support. A real bummer.

    • Henry Law

      Yea as if someone is stopping you from update your device for the latest feature and most advanced infrastructure of iOS , people like you are such a joke..

      • sickbigbrother

        Maybe he is jailbroken (there's no iOS 11 jailbreak atm) which always gives you many more tweaks and features than your "latest and most advanced infrastructure of iOS".

        Or maybe he doesn't want to update because of the Toucharcade App or other Apps and Games that won't work anymore on iOS 11.

        Try to see beyond your own nose a little bit instead of calling people a joke without having any background info ...

  • 7ape

    loved limbo am a bit ambivalent towards this. It’s dark, it’s gritty (maybe too gritty as the forced low resolution is a bit annoying) but yeah, it’s trial and error, and it’s bleak. I’m all for supporting the indies though so even though I finished it on pc I’ll pick this up after Xmas.

  • ion677

    This is a game that ign gave a perfect 10/10. You guys are way off imho

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      That’s what’s cool about reviews, everyone who writes one has a different opinion.

      • Nigel Murray

        Not if it's a contrarian opinion, especially a deliberately contrarian opinion.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Is Rock Paper Shotgun's review also "deliberately contrarian?" Is it possible a reality also exists where not everyone enjoys the same type of video game?

    • Nathan Reinauer

      Basically a difference of one star

    • HelperMonkey

      If IGN told you that jumping off a cliff was 10/10, would you do it?

      • Milotorou

        You know what they say ? Cant spell ignorant without IGN.

    • Milotorou

      Now because a game gets a 10/10 everyone has to enjoy it ?

      This is why I hate scoring on reviews, ive tried a lot of 9 and 10s that didnt get me at all. FF XII (12) got super high praise back in the day, like 9s everywhere and... I HATED it.

      Opinions are subjective, Eli has the right to not enjoy every darn type of games out there.

  • http://mulderc.blogspot.com/ Cameron Mulder

    I don't think I could disagree with this review more. Loved LIMBO and find INSIDE to be even better.

    • Milotorou

      I dont really like them either.... but ill just say this : You got to admit these arent your typical "for everyone" games, its a niche style for a somewhat medium range audiance.

      If the audiance its targetting at is enjoying it, its a success and devs should continue that way. Doesnt mean everyone will like it though.

      • http://mulderc.blogspot.com/ Cameron Mulder

        Metacritic shows high scores from both critics and users. I would say this game has much wider appeal than you are claiming. No, it isn't for everyone. Neither is Citizen Kane but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check it out.

    • Frédéric Lormois

      INSIDE is a masterpiece. 4/5 for a masterpiece, for a perfect port on iOS, this is just, just ........no words really.

      • http://mulderc.blogspot.com/ Cameron Mulder

        I agree. if you think about movies a good reviewer will recognize the technical achievement of a masterpiece and still give something 5/5 even if they personally might not dig it.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        [Citation Needed]

      • 7ape

        it's distractringly low resolution on my ipad

      • Nigel Murray

        It's a port of a current gen game. This game was never released on X360 or PS3, of course the requirements would be steep, what did you expect?

      • 7ape

        I played it on my hd4000 thinkpad without any problems.

      • RathfordTheRude

        You would be surprised to know how powerful the HD 4000 (I'm assuming that's the Intel version) is compared to mobile devices. Mobile devices have had more driver overhead and drawcall issues compared to even PC graphics APIs like DX11 but Apple's Metal may be able to mitigate this. I will agree that the game should have given us more choices regarding visuals.

    • sickbigbrother

      Same here. I usually disagree with Eli's reviews though, most of his 5 star games are lower for me and vice versa - Seems we have completely opposite tastes in games but that kind of helps me too. When Eli knocks a game down there's a good chance I'll enjoy it 🙂

      Same here btw, loved INSIDE, same with Limbo but can see why it isn't for everybody.

  • Yannick

    Would have been great if it had iOS 10 support. A real bummer.

  • HelperMonkey

    Where is Carter Dotson when the world really needs him?

  • delirium38

    Actually the game wasn't released last summer, but in the summer of 2016.
    Also your description of what reviewers thought of the game is not really in line with the metacritic rating, that puts it at the 11th best reviewed PS4 game of all time.
    Maybe it's the language barrier, but generally favorable doesn't scream one of the best reviewed games on the platform to me.

    Alright, that's enough nitpicking for today. The review itself is solid and sums up my feelings for the game perfectly. It's definitely a special experience and being avle to try it out for free is great.

    • DanCJ

      Summer of 2016 - also known as “last summer”

  • Raphael Alexander

    Guess what games android is getting? Nothing.

  • Razvan C.

    So Lineage gets a 5/5 and this gets a 4/5. I'm starting to have doubts on how objective these reviews are.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      They’re reviews, they’re subjective. That’s the whole point.

      • Razvan C.

        Not quite. Journalism of any kind, including game reviews is supposed to be objective. This is not a blog. A more suspicious person may say that getting on the radar with Lineage's developers may attract advertising dollars. Gamespot ignited a scandal with a similar approach. I'm not saying this is true or not but even for an "subjective" review, I find it strange that one of the biggest mobile releases of all times that most people agree is way over-rated gets 5 / 5 and a indie, niche game that is voted as one of the best games on the platform gets 4 / 5. So no, simplifying the matter doesn't quite solve it.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        TouchArcade is an iOS gaming blog.

      • Nigel Murray

        Labelling your website as a blog isn't really a good look. Lots of people read it. Frankly I think you're trying escape the blame.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Escape the blame of sharing my honest opinions about a video game? What?

      • stevearm

        People don't want to read subjective reviews, try and be a bit more objective. That's what all the major review sites do. Inside is a masterpiece and achieved a little bit more than "generally received favorably by critics". It was nominated for multiple game of the year awards.

      • Razvan Rogoz

        Well, excuse my ignorance but who is this "blog" catering to - the readers or advertising dollars? Because blog or not, at least there you can put a big "advertorial" on those pieces. Nobody minds. But I assume that based on how you've answered so far that you don't care what I or anyone else that disagrees has to say anyway. After all, it is just a blog. If IGN would pull a stuff like this, by the end of the day they would have a PR disaster.

        It doesn't bother me that this is run as a business. After all, bills are not paid with gratitude. It bothers me the attitude taken here. It is so obvious what is happening, from the fact that Lineage 2 uses the Touch Arcade in the app description to the fact that TA is the only site that gave it 100% when Inside gets universal acclaim and TA treats it as average.

        I don't give a damn about either game. They are just games. But I'm one of those old school people that still desire some editorial integrity from a site - especially one the size of TA. I honestly don't see why this site shouldn't be held accountable just as EnGadget, just like Gamespot, just like Kotaku or any other tech or gaming "blog".

        Anyway ... maybe it is for the better this way.

    • Qwazz Bre

      "I'm starting to have doubts on how objective these reviews are"?

      Since when are reviews supposed to be objective?

      • Razvan Rogoz

        Honestly - since the beginning of the written press. Reviews fall under critical evaluation.

    • Frédéric Lormois

      Indeed. Lineage better than INSIDE, better than Life Is Strange, better than Oddworld. Big facepalm. Freemium better than premium also. Very informative.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Better how? You're trying to argue that pizza is better than spaghetti.

      • Darwin.

        Exactly. He's trying to say that TA reviews "Pizza" better than "spaghetti"

      • 7ape

        Pizza is obviously better than spaghetti

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        How much did pizza pay you to say that?

      • 7ape

        Hella mozzarella

  • DrlRage

    I can see some tension brewing here, but there aren't any free passes on TA. Play Dead needs to take some notes and go back to the drawing board!
    If you want 5 stars here, you gotta earn it! 😏
    No gems, chests, no PVP, no costumes? From a business perspective you lost a star there. There isn't even an video ad playing after each death. Like c'mon get in the game Play Dead. Did you think we wouldn't notice? Mobile has standards you know!

    • Tasos Lazarides

      Do explain the Gorogoa 5-stars review using this lovely formula then because I'm slightly lost.

      • Razvan C.

        Nice sarcasm 🙂

        I've played it a bit on my iPad (Works on iPad Mini 4). It is quite different. This is the kind of game to play on a long flight or in the train. It is not perfect but it is among the few REAL console quality games on the iPad. This belongs out there with XCOM, Deus Ex and all the other well executed ports.

      • 7ape

        oh my god Gorogoa is a delight though

      • DrlRage

        If you're lost in that game I can't offer any help. I haven't play the game. I prefer to slash my fruit, not collect them in bowls!

  • Luzsec

    *4 ? Wtffff... this is most perfect puzzle game that i ever played

  • JCho133

    *Gave Candy Crush Soda Saga 5 stars*

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Holy cow JCho! How are you doing buddy? Haven't seen you around here in forever. Hope all is well.

      • JCho133

        Haha you remember me? Good stuff! I see the community hasn't changed much around here (for better or worse). I've been ghosting by... holding on to iOS 10 literally just so I can keep the TA app. Keep doing your thing!

    • Stormourner of the Nature

      *Gave Candy Crush Soda Saga 1k stars*

  • Nigel Murray

    If Apple weren't acting like they had a stick in their bottom for signing ipsws I would've updated to iOS 11 right away. But when there's no guarantee of we can revert back to an old iOS if something goes wrong in the future is terrible for us. God I hate Apple these days.

  • Nigel Murray

    I really feel like console/PC ports to iOS (especially of this caliber) deserve better than a measly 4 stars rating. I think we should be grateful we're getting these games at all. I'm the past few years I've completely shifted over to portable entertainment, including video games. Being able to play Inside, Grid, and more recent releases such as Life is Strange is incredible to me.

    Since I have no interest in the Switch, and Sony doesn't have a new handheld console, I've only my phone to keep me company. Thank you all developers for these games on mobile, especially these excellent ports, I'll continue to support all console game ports now and in the future.

    • 7ape

      We're living in a weird world when 4/5 is 'measly'. On the other hand I totally agree with you about supporting decent premium games on iOS. I'm really hopeful about the state of things after the last month or so of releases,

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I'm wondering if part of the confusion is some people think we maybe score on a 10 star scale? It'd make sense in this context of thinking a 4/10 is "measly."

  • DrlRage

    Preach. If you change your stance from "Let's Play" to "Just Pay" everything will fall right into place. **[ Click here to purchase a comment doubler and unlock TouchArcade premium ]**

  • HelperMonkey

    Yeah.. If people are going to keep referring to Metacritic, or whatever other review site they like, they clearly know where to find it. Otherwise you could just post a link and save yourself the time and thought.

    • HelperMonkey

      Actually, speaking of Metacritic: Inside scored an 87 average on PC. That’s less than 4.5 stars, but it’s more than 4 stars!! Oh no! What’s a guy who would rather reflect the Truth of the Meta Score than just give his personal opinion supposed to do?
      Have you considered scrapping stars for numbers, or gumdrops, or an abstract currency-based scale of some sort that would adjust for inflation?
      Have you considered dropping off the grid and praying for a plague?

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        We actually experimented with getting rid of review scores all together, as I personally really dislike them. The complaints we got were unbelievable, and included things like people being angry that they needed to read the review to determine whether or not they should download a game. (I wish I was joking.)

  • Cale

    No Iphone 6 yo. The sadness is real TT

  • DanCJ

    Well if this got a higher rating than Limbo, it must be incredible!

  • DanCJ

    What fun.

    At the end of the day, 4/5 is a good score. The review discribed why it wasn’t rated higher, and after reading it, I’m pretty sure I’ll love the game even though Eli didn’t.

    The review has done its job.

  • Henry Law

    Yea as if someone is stopping you from update your device for the latest feature and most advanced infrastructure of iOS , people like you are such a joke

    • sickbigbrother

      Maybe he is jailbroken (there's no iOS 11 jailbreak atm) which always gives you many more tweaks and features than your "latest and most advanced infrastructure of iOS".

      Or maybe he doesn't want to update because of the Toucharcade App or other Apps and Games that won't work anymore on iOS 11.

      Try to see beyond your own nose a little bit instead of calling people a joke without having any background info.

  • Stormourner of the Nature

    the people when a game gets 5/5: YAAAY!!!! 😀
    the people when a game gets 4/5: GRRRRRRRR!!!! D:<

Playdead's INSIDE Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 4