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The Spoilerific INSIDE thread


#1

I thought I’d make a little place so that anyone who’s played and finished INSIDE could speak their mind without fear of spoiling it for others - as a sort of companion for my recent Cool Ghosts video, under which I’d prefer the comments remained free of details about the game!

I actually go into a bit of detail about my plot theories in next Monday’s Daft Souls, but I’d be fascinated to hear if other people have been drilling into the possibilities in such a big way?


#2

Not so much a theory on the plot but I loved how at first you felt very separate from those stupid zombies, then they became tools then your buddies. I was totally worried every time I thought I was going to leave those guys behind. And the ending! It wasn’t for me that as I was crashing through stuff it was for my guys! That place could not be all they experienced!


#3

The main thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is how much the long-haired underwater things look like the boy - can’t help but wonder if they signify the idea that the journey you’re making has been made before, many times - albeit perhaps unsuccessfully? But then the ending itself (and the diorama of the hill with a marker placed at the location where the ball-thing eventually settles) leaves me wondering if your journey was even really a success? And if it was, then whom for?

The section in which sound waves smash you into pieces - was that designed to keep people out, or in? I sort of wonder if the ball itself is made up of loads of different versions of the boy, being sort of smuggled into the facility via these mind-control things. That could explain why at the start you’re being hunted - perhaps boys exactly like you are a threat of some kind, part of a bigger picture. The only people who don’t seem aggressive towards you are the scientists in the facility. I mean, perhaps all the dogs and men with guns are out there specifically hunting for you, but I get the sense that you’re simply a part of what they’re trying to stop. I guess essentially it’s an impossible puzzle, but it’s one my mind really enjoys trying to dissect! :smiley:


#4

I beat the game just minutes ago - the ending sequence was not at all like I had expected!

I’m not sure what to make of the story. At first I thought the boy was looking for someone - perhaps a loved one - who had been taken away. But the more I think about it that doesn’t feel quite right for some reason. I more get the feeling that he’s running away from something. Maybe he was rounded up together with the other people, but managed to escape - only to eventually end up where he was intend to go all along?

What exactly is going on in that facility anyway? Some kind of experiment involving mind control? And what’s the deal with all the water? It seems important, somehow.


#5

I think the alternate ending you can do by finding all the collectables makes it reasonably clear what’s going on with the boy (albeit in a subtle way, and one that just raises further questions!) Suffice to say I think Matt’s ponderings are on the money :slight_smile:

I have… mixed feelings about the story, like Limbo I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a story being subtly told, but also a lot of elements that were more like just neat stuff being thrown in rather than reinforcing the plot or themes, which stops the world feeling entirely coherent?

I don’t know, I think the atmosphere in the early stages got me really good (the real sense of being chased outside, and then the initial indoor areas and oh god that awful pit-of-the-stomach sense of oppressiveness the first time you use a helmet). But then there were underwater kids and antigravity bodies and the distinct sense that I wasn’t going to get even a hint at the hows and whys of the setting, and at some point it just lost that visceral impact?

Still a great game though. I really appreciated that it didn’t feel mean like Limbo did. I actually died relatively rarely because there were always just enough environmental cues that I could predict on the fly when I’d need to pay attention. Limbo’s atmosphere was killed by being a hellslog of trial and error, Inside was just tricky and surprising enough to keep me on edge.


#6

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. I really dislike games that hide the “true” ending behind a set of collectibles. I’ll just YouTube that, I have no interest in chasing after hidden stuff. :-/


#7

It’s very short, I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘true’ ending, it’s something of a contradiction if anything!

Oh! I’ve just remembered spoiler tags are a thing! So re the secret ending for those who have seen it/CBA collectible hunting (though I will say, the way it hints at their locations, plus the load function is bloody lovely compared to the usual random flailing these collectible hunts require).

[spoiler]so in case anyone hasn’t seen it - you find a secret bunker under the cornfield with a big ol chair and helmet that has lots of cables coming off it, you unplug it and collapse. Significantly, it looked to me like you collapse into exactly the same crouched stance as the uncontrolled husk dudes. So I think it’s reasonable to assume the boy is being controlled. The question is, by the blob, the scientists or someone else?

Also I call it a contradiction because if you’re being controlled, why would whoever is puppeting you have you pull the plug? But then in order to reach the ending, you have to complete the game or use the Load function, so maybe there’s a loop going on here? The blob is continually escaping, being recaptured, until eventually it decides it’s had enough? Or it’s just supposed to be some meta bollocks, I dunno.[/spoiler]


#8

Finished the game a few days ago. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’d call it great. While I love the game as a pure tone piece, I feel like it really needed just a tiny bit more clarity for all the elements to mesh together into a proper whole. I’m not asking for much: all I wanted was some kind of solid motive or goal for the main character to follow.

In his video, Matt compared INSIDE to Half Life 2, and praised both games for their vagueness and reticence to explain things. But I feel that comparison is erroneous. While Half Life 2 certainly withheld a lot of information, it never withheld the important stuff, like your character’s short-term and long-term goals. In the long-term, you’re trying to bring down the Combine’s oppressive regime and save the human race. Meanwhile, you have other characters constantly giving you clear short-term goals - get to Kleiner’s lab, escape through Ravenholm, storm Nova Prospekt with an army of giant murderous bugs, etc. There’s only one point in the game where you’re completely rudderless - the first five minutes in the train station, when you’re first getting your bearings. But even there, you’re almost immediately hauled aside by Barney and given directions.

But in INSIDE, I spent the entire game in that rudderless state. My only goal for the entire playtime was to just move to the right, to see what new weirdness the game had in store. And while that was fun, it did mean that a lot of the game felt rather pointless. Was the point where I fell into the line of husks and had to march along with them a low point in my character’s journey? What about the point where I was dodging the shockwaves? Or the part where my character outright drowned, but was then revived through techno-magic? Was getting absorbed into the blob the plan from the start, or was that an unfortunate accident? Was breaking out of the blackshirt’s laboratory and rolling to the sea a victory or a failure for my character?

I don’t know, because the game never gave me even the most basic grounding in the player character’s psychology. I mean, I never knew what they wanted, and so was unable to contextualise anything that happened. And that saddens me, because it’s clear from the artstyle that Playdead absolutely understands the ideas of focus and economy in design. Yet they seemingly forgot to extend that design philosophy to the game’s narrative.

A focused and economical narrative is not one where you’re never told what’s going on. It’s one where you’re told just enough to know what’s going on, and nothing more. But since INSIDE chose the former over the latter, the game just came across as rambling and aimless to me, instead of the masterpiece that it could have been.


#9

Hello! I liked this game a lot. I’m still thinking about it days later. I don’t really have anything to add on an overall level, but lots of little tiny observations that struck me playing the game, presented in an incoherent manner that might help someone else join some theory dots!

  • The little chicks you see in the farm are the first non-threatening interaction you have - they flock to you like the drones do later on when you have them under control. I really didn’t want to turn the machine on and use them in such a callous way to progress :frowning: They make weird sounds, very mechanical, like a chirping calculator. I am not sure what this means, but other wildlife you meet make very natural sounds and this stood out as a very deliberate thing!

  • Actually, you meet quite a lot of deliberate wildlife during the game, ratties, a cat (which you have to die to even see!), flocks of birds. Mainly during the opening sections though, aside from the schools of fish later on.

  • Big, writhing piles of those parasite thingies in the pig farm. Never seen again, never really alluded to. You can break in to a barn full of piggies and they are nice and docile.

  • I wonder what the significance of the masks are (if it’s anything more than just an emotional visual allusion to A Clockwork Orange and whatnot, suggesting what ‘class’ these people are part of), and the fact that there are families with their children (even a baby with a mask!) watching the procession of people file in. After that point, I don’t think I saw anyone else wearing a mask. Sort of re-frames the tone of the game a bit.

  • What causes the doggies to sniff you out specifically, compared to the rest of the ‘drones’ that are under control? Is there a physiological difference? What does that mean in relation to the alternative ending?

  • I spotted a couple of people waiting for a train a few sections on. Maybe the city isn’t so post-apocalyptic as it might initially seem? Instantly offset by very specific imagery of train-carts packed full of drones.

  • So much water in the mid-section of the game, abandoned warehouses and test facilities. I wonder what the two chaps who’s diving bell you nick were looking for, with their reel-to-reel tapes and broadcasting doohickies.

  • Actually there’s quite a lot of analogue equipment around! Piles of videotapes at one point.

  • What on earth is that massive blast-wave of sound for? Feels like a horrendous weapon, given how readily the boy turns to kibble if you’re not shielded from it, and the presence of those dummies. At the same time though, it feels like the facility is yet again abandoned, as does the previous mining section with all the workers just sort of hanging around.

  • The boy and his dad collecting the cage full of drones in the warehouse really stood out as very specific imagery again. Other humans! Doing… something! The kid seems scared, clinging on to his dad for reassurance.

  • The final ‘area’ where you meet the blob feels like the most modern of facilities. Everyone’s waiting, aren’t they? Running towards the observation room ready for the blob to take it’s sentience with you in the middle of it.

  • Before your final descent down the mountain-side, the blob is laughing and cheering. I guess it feels it’s freedom at hand.

Damned if I know what it all means though, other than in a very abstract emotional response to all of the imagery and themes that are brought up. It’s probably quite deliberately contradictory in that sense!


#10

Hiding this in a spoiler as it refers to the secret ending spoiler above.

OK, the collapsing makes total sense to me, I had a thought when you had a 2 person mind control chain. If you can control one of them and have that one control something else, then why not you being controlled to begin with, and the obvious answer is that the player is the outer layer of control.


#11

Damn, that went to a hell of a place, had no idea that was coming.

I do have some thoughts on the long haired boys, when you’re drowned and then re-awoken you have an umbilical chord cable attached to yourself as you descend. This is also seen attached to the long haired boys when you’re swimming past a load of probably dead ones, so one assumes that there’s a process to make people aquatic and you, accidentally or more likely intentionally, have the process started.

The Masks are an odd one, maybe gas masks? or maybe just an easy way for the harvesting people to tell who’s a friendly and who isn’t.

The worms are also rather weird. At one point you pull one out of a pig and it goes from super aggressive to super docile. I think it’s plausible to think that the worms are somehow mind controlling the pigs, which is the kind of thing that could either be exploited by someone or could possibly spread. My thought is it was exploited to make some form of cheap work force (lots of the controllable people are in work gear). I think the worms can only take other living beings rather than animate dead ones as the pig farm had a whole lot of dead pigs, presumably culled.


#12

I’ve just played it through, and wow! What a game! I don’t feel like I have much to add to the understanding of the overall narrative, but I would like to point out a few things I noticed, that impacted me!

Firstly, those chase scenes at the start were very intense, they really managed to make me feel terrified! I did notice however, that whenever I got caught by a human, they didn’t seem to kill me, they certainly knocked me out but I didn’t really get the feeling they were intent on murder - the guns they use shoot darts, like tranquilisers, if you trip on the log, the man dunks you, but I could swear he lifted me out again and if you get grabbed, you get tackled, brutally considering your age, but not something that would kill.

Next, that f… farm! Man, that really affected me. Those piles of dead pigs lying all over the place. Those worms… gah! I think though that this was not a “normal” state of affairs for the society - think about it, if you are a farmer, then those pigs are your product, and you don’t leave piles of them rotting. Could those worms be parasites, nothing much to do with the narrative? The pig that attacks you, could he just have been in a lot of pain and for want of a better way of putting it, taking it out on you? I don’t think we need to reach for mind control to explain it’s actions. So running with these thoughts, could this farm be under quarentine, a parasite, perhaps feared to be human transmissible - hence the mask wearing men - cover all flesh the worms can attack - trying to drive you away from the area. Once on the farm, it is deserted, no signs of human activity or farming. I believe this is the first incidence of meeting the husks, which lends itself to the idea they are used for manual labour.

After the farm, I remember the streets, with all the husks marching, then performing for a human audience - jumping and “dancing” - I couldn’t decide - and being in that line trying to match the rhythm was super stressful for me - if they were an audience or some sort of QC. Those buildings certainly seemed like factory buildings I wonder if the husks are made from people, or are they some sort of biological robot, grown from tissue in a lab perhaps as cheap labour? Certainly we see the lorry at the start loading them in - and I seem to remember it pulled away from those pods? small structures with a round window that we see quite a few times in the game - and at the back of that line, we see a truck, did it unload them into that line - what are those pods and why were they in the woods, are the husks harvested from them? Are they deployed to where the husks work as some sort of rejuvination? We know they are biological because of the scenes at the end, the husks in the surgical glass rooms, one is rubbing on the glass leaving blood.

The submarine section takes us down far below the street level. Those two who had the submarine, they struck me a scientists, studying something. When we get deep down, we find ourselves in long deserted man made areas - so it’s almost as if those scientists meant to study humanities past - As we climb back up towards the surface, we get that room with the lights shining in and plants growing - this room has those pods again. The thing that attacks the submarine - Matt is correct, it does look a lot like the boy, but it also looked a lot like some of those people held upside down underwater (overwater… you know what I mean!). I’m wondering if those people, or husks as they turn out to be have been treated to allow them to breath under water, and maybe some of them escaped and retained, regained or developed their sentience. They have long hair because they escaped some time ago and live underwater, so it just grew and grew. The deep one at least doesn’t like light, again, has it been down there so long, that it in particular dislikes light or is that common to all of them?

Breaking into the mine, it has that weight counter, is it an accident that it clocks the weight of a husk/person as 1, or is it specifically designed to count them. Why would it need a certain number of them to open that door? Maybe it’s designed to open only for the big minecarts, and the wieght counter was supposed to stop anyone smaller getting into that danger area.

Considering that the explosion-pulse area had test dummies in it, but also was abandoned and flooded, was it perhaps an experimental mining technology? It’s in the flooded facility connected to the pulses that we meet more of the long haired things. Could it be that the pulse intefered with the upsidedown water husks and allowed them to break free? They are certainly - perhaps surprisingly sensitive to vibrations in the water - they must be being triggered constantly by the pulses.

When you get caught by the one who you are supposed to, and it takes you deep down, it does, during your descent attach an umbilical to your belly button - and it is of the same technology that the helmets are made from, and as rightly pointed out - from this moment the boy changes - he has most notibly the ability to breath underwater, but also he can control the husks without a helmet now.

As we climb back up to human inhabited areas, our first contact is with the overhead spotlight machines. We’ve seen them stored previously in a warehouse and used on the rooftops around the long line of husks. It seems that these things are designed to prevent human and/or husks from accessing forbidden areas. As they are always placed where humans would normally be locked from, are husks gaining sentience so much of a problem in this world that they have these machines to prevent their escape from the facility?

That section where the father and boy come into the warehouse and a forklift picks up a cage of husks, I didn’t sense the boy was scared at all, it seemed so normal, dad went out to buy some machinery, took his son and they picked up their new gear from the warehouse. The only thing that wasn’t normal to my eyes was what that machinery was, but it seems that in this society, these husks are normal.

Finally, the experiment… First things first, I got the impression that the audience were excited by something, but I don’t think it was the boys arrival, he is not invited in, he sneaks into the tank. The devices holding it in place, I don’t think they were the same as the helmets, they has distinctive oval yellow lights around them, as did the umbilical, yet these did not. Also, I definately saw a pigs backside and tail emerging from the thing, they are not all human!

Matt was also spot on when he saw the display with the light beaming down precisely where you finish the game, but more, over the water in that diarama, were structures that you are heading towards, a farm or a mine perhaps? Is it possible that it was The Farm or The Mine you were previously in? I don’t think so, too much travel left, but then I definately noticed some points, your path curved, very very subtlely - so maybe you do loop back on yourself through the entire game.

As I said, I can’t get my head around the story any better than others already have, but these are the things I noticed while playing, and human memory being what it is, could easily not be remembered properly!