Sometimes, life isn’t all smiles and happy endings. Many games are brilliant from escaping real life so that we can experience those rainbows and cupcakes that we rarely get to enjoy in our everyday lives.
However, it can also be interesting to experience the opposite to rainbows and cupcakes; to place yourself in someone elses shoes to make you appreciate all that you have today.
There are games out there that are perfect for indulging yourself in darkness, torture and crippling fear. While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is still some fun to have in these games.
For a whole new style of escapism, you might want to try Inside.
The 2016 installment from Playdead hits a new level, portraying a game with such little optimism and chance of survival.
Today we are going to explore:
- What is Inside?
- How does it achieve its darkness?
- What other dark games are on the market?
What is Inside About?
A little boy no older that ten: no name, no voice, not even a face.
With no intro or any sort of information, you are thrown into the game and expected to run. Men hidden by white masks are immediately chasing you with weapons and guard dogs.
Get caught and you face imminent death.
From playing the game for 5 minutes, I have been mauled by dogs, shot through the chest, fallen from deadly heights and even waterboarded; this game certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
The adrenaline that surges through your veins from fear starts immediately as you play this game.
The objective is unclear, all you know that you MUST do is get away!
As you play, you begin to discover more civilization and start to question exactly what has gone wrong in the world to cause all of this!
How It Creates it’s Darkness
Intensive Sound Effects
This means that, a lot of the time, the player are subjected to this little boy’s heavy breathing from fear and continuous running, as well as other suspicious sounds around the game. The worst part is no music wants to hide that from you.
Why does this have a bigger effect on the darkness of the game?
It is in our nature to look after the vulnerable, especially children. When it is your responsibility to direct this child, the last thing you want is to have him suffer a gruesome death. And you have to listen to the fear in every single one of this child’s breath as he tries to get away.
You can here that he doesn’t want to be there, you can here that he is trying desperately to run away.
Not only that but you can hear other sounds such as heart beats, dogs growling, men shouting and more.
Unsettling sounds such as a child panting can be much more atmospheric than music.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t any eerie music.
The music is used in moments to show where the stress in Inside is at its highest! It is used sparingly and wisely and adds to the pressure within those scenes.
The level design
Another factor to add to the darkness of this game is the level design.
A lot of the time, as you’re playing Inside, the game takes place at night time meaning the levels are obviously going to be darker.
(in fact, the levels are so dark that there is an option for brightness in the main menu!)
Not only that but your path is littered with objects purposefully designed to cringe you with disgust or make you shiver with fear thinking about what’s about to come.
Not long after you start, you are surrounded by dead pigs who seemed to have died from malnutrition – just some of the unsightly objects to cross your path.
Inside is letting you experience situations in which you would never want experience in real life. Particularly as many fears that still play in adults minds are used within the game to make it more terrifying.
Take this, the majority of the game takes place at night.
In a sample of children aged 4 to 12, 73% said they had a fear of the dark. While a fear of the dark is less common in adults, it is still prominent.
This can be partly due to the fact that more crimes happen a night. You are more likely to be murdered at night, robbed in the night, kidnapped at night, attacked by wild animals at night, etc.
Bad things happen at night. Therefore you wouldn’t be in a rush to leave the house alone after dark.
And yet, you have to play as a young child, all along trying to escape these villainous murders at night.
Another fear abused in this game is a fear of people chasing you.
A common fear that fills people’s nightmares is used throughout this game and I can tell you that it got my heart racing.
Everytime a character is chasing me with a mask and flashlight, I can feel the pulse in my veins speed up and I start to panic with the controller in my hand.
They are only two examples of phobias used within the game and there are many more for you to discover.
The developers behind Inside are known for their dark and nightmare-inducing games.
Playdead are a team with a deadly imagination and have a fascination for creating all the ways their characters can die.
Limbo was their first release in 2010 and has seen floods of positivity ever since:
Dark, disturbing, yet eerily beautiful, Limbo is a world that deserves to be explored.
We first discovered this game when searching for the Indie Games with the Best Artwork. Limbo is proof that colour isn’t needed to make the game visually entertaining and enticing.
And its terrifying and disturbing story means players frequently find themselves covering their eyes as scenes prove too alarming to watch.
Despite this, you feel you have a duty to see the main character to safety; very similar to Inside.
The differences between Inside and Limbo is that Limbo feels more fanciful. During Inside, you can be shot, mauled and/ or drowned while Limbo introduces deaths through giant spiders and bear traps while running through the woods.
Deaths are used inside Limbo that could be considered less realistic. However, this doesn’t mean that this game is any less ghastly.
Other Dark Games on the Market
While searching for games, it’s difficult to find one quite as dark as Inside.
Nevertheless, many developers have had a shot at creating anxiety within the audience.
“You slip into the role of a character made of letters, struggling to make your way through a dark and hostile world. Despite your small stature you have a powerful gift: You can craft words to alter your environment. But choose your words wisely. They can either be a blessing… or a curse!”
Having won a number of awards, this game strikes the audience as a well thought out game with an imaginative back story.
Gameplay shows a dark world surrounding the protagonist with fire, graves and deadly monsters filling the scenery.
Yet an ingenious use of letters will be your ticket to survival.
“The world has ended. There is no hope. No new beginning. Only the survivors. DEADLIGHT follows the journey of Randall Wayne, a man searching for his family across Seattle during the aftermath of a 1980s event that has decimated life on earth.”
An apocalyptic world screams darkness and no hope to the audience as they explore this game.
Showing a gaming style similar to Inside, this is a platformer with no sign of any happy ending.
Despite their being a strong presence of dark and broody games on the market, there is something I have to admit:
I truly believe no other game has quite captured fear and innocence as effectively as Playdead’s creation.
Every aspect of this game brilliantly comes together to induce fear that I have never felt before while playing a game. Not only that, but I feel unbelievably sorry for our protagonist and wonder how he copes with the stress of the situation he is in.
If you’re not one for being chased by men with guns and ravenous dogs while controlling zombies with 1950’s sci-fi helmets, then this game probably isn’t for you.
Not sure whether this game is for you? I recommend that you definitely give it a try and let me know whether you enjoyed it!