This week we take a compare and contrast route and look at Limbo and Inside paired with Old Ruffian barleywine ale and The Duck-Rabbit milk stout.
Developed by PlayDead, Limbo is a 2D sidescroller/puzzle-platformer. While the story is never fully fleshed out, one description from the developer read “a boy enters Limbo to rescue his sister.” And, in this game, that’s really all we need. Players enter this silhouetted world and must survive until they reach the end. This survival is contingent on the player’s ability to jump and–even more so–solve puzzles by manipulating the objects around them. In the world of Limbo, death is all around you as players can meet their end in a multitude of ways: impalement, fall damage, drowning, electrocution, and the list goes on. Originally getting its start on Xbox Live Arcade, back in 2010, the game has exploded in popularity and is now available on almost every platform you can imagine. Players everywhere have fallen in love with the art style, gruesome deaths, and innovative puzzles that have come to be associated with Limbo. So when PlayDead announced their next project, Inside, people were excited–ready to fall in love with another dark world.
Sticking with what they know, but building upon almost every element found in Limbo, Inside is Playdead’s newest puzzle/platforming adventure. The description for the game reads “Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself drawn to the center of a dark project.” It’s as vague as it needs to be while still providing you a solid idea of what to expect. The game is fairly straightforward with its pacing and Playdead did a good job with guiding players without making things too difficult or too simple. Puzzles and logic are more of a focus during Inside than pure platforming reflexes, but the game has a nice mix of both to keep things interesting. The art style is grim but the right mix of color and lighting give it a distinctive look when compared to Limbo. Inside can be played on Xbox One and PC at the moment but much like Limbo, it’s bound to make it’s way to other platforms sooner or later.
Inside Limbo: a compare and contrast
In many ways Inside feels like Limbo with a bigger budget. Many of the ideas from Limbo–in terms of both motifs and game mechanics–feel more fleshed out in Inside, although each are certainly games in their own right.
Limbo and Inside are standalone games that feel like part of the same universe. For instance, both downplay the lead character’s individuality. As we load each game, the title simply fades and the game just starts. In each, we play as nameless boys. The main character in Inside has no face, while the lead in Limbo is a shadowy figure with a set of glowing eyes. Because of this stylistic choice, each game feels like a twisted take on the old video game/folk tale sentiment: this hero can be anyone.
While the world of Inside is far more expansive (a 3D-world that utilizes color and lighting to create a realistic atmosphere), its darkness reminds me of Limbo. Both worlds feel like they exist somewhere between a dystopian future and a bad dream.
The most cringe worthy similarity between the visuals of both games would have to be the death sequences. They’re painfully drawn out, in the best way possible; from being crushed by a tree branch in Limbo to being ripped apart by dogs in Inside, PlayDead isn’t afraid to show you suffering.
Inside also follows in the Limbo tradition of creating dire moments for the player that end up not being the end after all.
At first glance, both games will appear to offer the same exact gameplay just within a different setting, but playing through them will provide evidence that shows each has a very specific feel and delivery. The key difference is that Limbo leans heavily on pure reflexes and impossible foresight that makes the game feel intentionally trial and error. Inside, on the other hand, plays at a much slower pace, with the focus being on multi-stage puzzles instead of cheap death tactics. Dying will certainly happen more than a few times during a playthrough but thoroughly inspecting the area will often save your life since rarely do any last minute things come in from off-screen to obliterate the boy. Now, that doesn’t make Inside better for being more fair nor does it make it worse for being significantly easier but it does, perhaps most importantly, make it different.
Both games are completely without words. Just like with Limbo, Inside puts experience, game play, and the own player’s interpretations above concrete narrative. While both games never come outright and tell players exactly what’s going on, it’s a bit easier to draw conclusions to what Limbo‘s themes and story are compared to Inside. The concepts of death and passing on are highlighted sufficiently throughout Limbo, with even its title making it fairly obvious. But with Inside, things are more open-ended, with the only real absolute being the concept of control and how it affects you.
As a barleywine ale, I was not expecting to like Great Divide Brewing’s Old Ruffian at all. But this beer surprised me. Much like Inside and Limbo Old Ruffian is dark. Its bitterness is no surprise but the sweet undertones certainly are. The beer’s caramel malt becomes much more palatable in the presence of its lingering fruit flavors. You’d never know it was 10.2% ABV but you can certainly feel it. While the flavor fairs as slightly above average, the high ABV increases its value. In the end, I enjoy Old Ruffian for the experience it provides and I feel the same way about both these games.
Now, I’m far from a beer connoisseur of any sort, but I do enjoy tossing some back having while playing games I like. And as a pairing with Limbo & Inside I decided to go with Duck Rabbit Milk Stout Beer. The main reason for this choice? It’s a dark beer, and the optical illusion logo on the bottle seemed fitting for games that constantly play with player’s expectations and perception of things. As for the beer itself, its 5.7% ABV keeps it from being too overbearing. But after 2 or 3, the effects will slowly creep up. The first few tastes can be a little off-putting, but it still goes down smoothly overall. Then after a couple more swigs, further consumption becomes deceptively easy.To me, that’s the perfect analogy for both games. They both can be a little rough at first, but the more you indulge in them, the more enjoyable they become. Before you know it, you’re at the end but left wanting more.