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Inside Has Gloriously Subtle Animations - Come See!

The human touch

I've just finished Inside [official site] - I really enjoyed it. It's a kind of macabre vignette with a lot of shared DNA from Playdead's previous game, Limbo. It also reminded me of the few minutes I played of Black The Fall at a previous Rezzed in terms of dystopian setting, palette and some of the control mechanisms so I'll be curious to see where they differ when that game is released. BUT while playing, the thing about Inside I kept coming back to/being distracted by/being entranced by was the animations.

There were so many little touches, little looks, little variations in movement when it came to the main character that I wanted to make sure we flagged them up in a post with the help of gifs.

I'm not sure how smooth these will look on your screens but I'll add a little explanation beneath each so you know why I recorded it even if it doesn't quite come across. I've also tried not to spoil anything so they're pretty zoomed in and they're not about the actual puzzle solving. If you'd prefer to stay entirely free of spoilers for atmospheric changes and setting just duck out now!

The Window

This was the first one I made. All I did was make the boy walk over to a closed door with a window in it by pressing the right arrow key. The glancing over the shoulder and the resting of the hands on the glass are entirely the game's doing. It's a really lovely touch (and I mean that in both senses). It also helps you develop this sense of the boy responding to his environment rather than just being a sprite dumped in a world.

The Trapdoor

This one has a delightful heft to it - the weight of the trapdoor for the little kid to lift is so apparent in his movements and the strain which switches from different bits of his body through the animation. It goes from shoulders to legs to elbows and upper arms then releases.

The Chain

This one has a nice rhythm to it and the accompanying sound effects are perfect (sorry they're not giffable) but it's all about the little scramble at the top for me. It's an intermission between climbing and standing that's all legs and arms and struggle.

The Falls

These are two variations on landing after a non-fatal fall. They correspond to different heights the boy falls from and the fact he's got forward momentum when he does so, I think. The first is a favourite and you can trigger it while running downhill if you do a jump - a really neat stumble. The second one is when the drop is longer and incorporates a roll.

The Fence

This one is just really smooth. I like how he hangs from the wire - the body feels right. It's not one of those animations where you feel like the creators had to fudge the motion or clip anything. If I slow it down hugely maybe I'd see it otherwise but running at regular speed it's delightful. Smooth like buttered rum.

The Water

This one I recorded because I like the transition between swimming on the surface and diving. There's a motion with both hands which connects the front crawl to the underwater swimming and it feels really true to my actual swimming.

The Slope

This one is here to demonstrate that downhill stumble jump you can trigger which I mentioned earlier.

The Wader

This one has just the right arm positioning to convey that attempt to balance and push forward through the density of water. It also has the right mixture of slide and jolt to the movements for a wading rhythm.

The Lorry

And this last one is here because of the little head movement. It's entirely context dependent so if there's an object the boy is wary of, even if it can't kill you, he'll look at it as he crouch-waddles past. I really like how it adds to the sense of him as a character. Not that it fleshes out motivations or backstory or anything, but on an animal level it feels like a very truthful and real response to a stimulus.

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About the Author

Philippa Warr

Former Staff Writer

Pip wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2014-2017, covering everything from MOBAs, hero brawlers and indie curios. She also had a keen interest in the artistry of video game creation, and was very partial to keeping us informed of the latest developments in British TV show Casualty.