With their second game Danish studio Playdead appears to have borrowed a little from the classic Disney movie aesthetic, though the subject matter and tone couldn't differ more wildly. For example, we do get the uncannily familiar farmhouse setting here, but the animals in Inside do not talk or sing. Instead, like many of the game's troubled inhabitants, they appear to squirm in agony.
You might remember Playdead as the makers of 2010's silhouetted side-scroller Limbo. Inside is being named its spiritual successor and the lineage is clear to see.
Like its non-material predecessor, Inside drops you into a perplexing world and offers little explanation for its sinister conventions. The only thing the player can do is push forward into the unfamiliar.
Pushing forward isn't a chore though, since your character's animation flows beautifully, whether he's leaping over walls or ducking for cover under a torchlight's glare.
Broken down, the game is a structured as a series of physics-focused traversal puzzles, but the world's enclosing atmosphere and ever-present sense of menace prove engrossing enough to keep you from thinking about things like how the game is structured.
Like Limbo, Inside approaches storytelling with a minimalist attitude, teasing half-complete clues in the environment that may reveal truths best left hidden. The brutal death animations are also back, remaining as swift and shocking as they were in Limbo while managing to keep that same macabre sense of humor intact.
The game's linearity is highlighted by your endless rightward advance, though the demo does show off a submarine section that allowed for more open exploration, albeit in a deadly, still sea.
According to early play-through reports, the game's length will make it a suitable 'one-sitter,' joining Gone Home and Journey as games perfectly digestible in a single evening.
Coming later this June, Inside looks to be Xbox's indie hit of the summer. Check out Polygon's gameplay capture below and let me know what you think in the comments:
Inside will come out on Xbox One on June 29 and Windows/Steam on July 7.