Category Archives: Review

Inside Another World

“Inside” is a video game of unusual stylistic prowess. A reduced color palette brings to life – Gray, dark and sober life, occasionally lit by evil lights, but still life! – to an uncomfortable world, a world that may or may not be ours, which balances the familiar and the bizarre with the prowess of a veteran juggler.

In fact, both this visual style of stylized minimalism and the familiar strangeness of this world left me with the feeling that I was playing a game that shared a family tree with one of my formative games, “Another World. “

One of Another World’s most memorable scenes, early in the game.

In this much older game, we also lead a relatively vulnerable character through a world that, while very unusual – in Another World’s case, more clearly alien than Inside’s – presents enough echoes of ours that we can make some assumptions about what is going on, and the situation in which we find ourselves. On the other hand, both games keep us restless and awake as we never know what strange creature or trap will be waiting for us on the next screen.

In Inside, however, the character doesn’t get a weapon further along the game, and that’s not bad. While I missed the gunfight-shaped peaks of action that punctuated Another World’s normally cerebral pace, I also recognize that these were always the weakest part of the game.

Inside is all about solving physical puzzles, about figuring out the best way to manipulate the environment so that you can move from left to right until you reach the final outcome. This makes it a much more accessible game than Another World. Inside sometimes requires a bit of rhythm and timing, but never quick reflexes; the challenges may be physical in execution, but the difficulty is purely cerebral.

Trial and error are constant companions in Inside, but the game never penalizes us for more than a few seconds per death.

What didn’t please me so much about Inside was the open-ended narrative, and once again, I compare and contrast with the case of Another World. Both games tell their story without a single word. It is up to the player to understand it based on events and environmental observation.

However, in Another World, the general nature of the event that triggered the adventure is rather obvious, if not its specifics. The ending is open (at least until the sequel) but leaves no doubt about what is going on.

Inside leaves a lot more to the imagination, a little too much for my taste, and yes, here it is purely a matter of taste. The beginning is completely unexplained, as remains the motivation of the character we control, and if by the end of the game, events occur that possess an added dramatic charge, the nature of these events remains obscure. (Although I admit, the final scene is relatively satisfactory, as a climax.)

The point is that Another World leaves a lot open to player interpretation, and that pleases me. But Inside doesn’t give us enough material to generate an interpretation, merely speculation. There is nothing wrong with that – it’s good that less common kinds of narratives are emerging in video games – but it’s not something that pleases me, and it may not please the reader either.

Still, the experience of playing Inside was enjoyable, and it made me think that there are really very few games like that, games in the same vein as the classic that was Another World. I hope more people play Inside, and perhaps tap it for inspiration.

God of War (2005 – 2018)

God of War, 2005:

The game begins in the middle of a storm; the player’s ship is being attacked by a hydra; during the first 10 minutes of play, the player confronts and kills one of the most recognisable creatures in Greek mythology.

God of War, 2018:

The game begins with a funeral. In the first 10 minutes, the player confronts and kills a trio of common enemies, who seem to have been ripped straight from the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

God of War, 2005:

The graphics were good for their age; today, they feel dated, but still hold a certain charm. The panoramic camera gives a good feel for the world’s epic scale.

God of War, 2018:

It’s possibly the most beautiful game I’ve ever played. A true visual tour de force that single-handedly justifies the purchase of a PS4Pro and one of those shiny 4K televisions. The HDR lighting makes the eyes hurt if the camera is pointed directly at the sun. The details are impressive, every millimeter of scenery, the skin of the characters, every fiber of armor… Everything looks unique, tactile, and real.

God of War, 2005:

As the game progresses, the player confronts and defeats a true rogue’s gallery of mythical beasts from Greek folklore, culminating in a final confrontation with Ares, the titular God of War. Our character is made giant, and both titans brawl amidst a burning city whose buildings barely reach their heels. In this final battle, the players must to apply all the techniques and skills that they have become familiar with throughout the game.

God of War, 2018:

With a couple of exceptions, all bosses are reskinned versions of the bosses fought during the first 2 hours of gameplay. The final confrontation is against a god who will be almost unknown to all but those with an intimate acquaintance of the Scandinavian pantheon – and again, it’s no more than a “spiced up“ version of a confrontation that happened during the first hours of play. This final battle is trivially simple if the player has spent but a few hours exploring the world and collecting better equipment.

God of War (2005) was a game made with a modest budget, and suffered from the technical limitations of the time. But it impressed at every juncture, showing itself more ambitious at every step, more capable of surprising, more epic. This is a game that played with the full hand of cards that fate had dealt it, without giving up, with the unique ambition of providing the player with the most ecstatic experience within its reach.

God of War (2018) is a game that will have cost more to produce than the GDP of some African countries. It represents the zenith the industry’s audiovisual craftsmanship, and counts with fantastic feats of digital acting. But it discharges almost all of its creative cannons in the first couple of hours, and from there on, it’s busywork. It’s a game that repeats all of its impressive moments to the point of banality, and that seems to be afraid to use up all the raw material provided by Scandinavian mythology, already thinking about what it will have to save for display in the obligatory sequel.

God of War (2005) is not the best game of its generation, nor that of the library of the console that saw its birth, and not even that of its genre. But it is an entertainment product, and with laser-like focus, it single-mindedly gave all that it had to give in order to do just that: entertain.

It was made for you.

God of War (2018) was ranked by many as game of the year, and by many others as the second best game of 2018. But it is an industrial product, and only entertains to the extent that it must.

It was made for the people who made it, for the people who paid for it, for the people who were going to review it. You?

You didn’t even make the top 3.

The Act of Killing

How would we feel if the ruling party in Germany was still the Nazi party? If the people who committed the holocaust had not only avoided international justice, but also boasted of such atrocities as if they had been acts of heroism?

There is such a place today. In Indonesia, the regime that tortured and murdered millions of innocents who opposed it, remains in power. And the murderers celebrate their deeds before the children of those they killed.

In the film “The Act of Killing” (2012), the director “deceived” the criminals so that they simulated their past acts, believing that the documentary would serve to glorify them. Thus we see how these people interrogated their enemies, how they dismembered children in front of their mothers.

On occasion, a bit of creative excess makes the movie acquire a hallucinatory quality, almost as if it were a fevered dream. But even this is not able to spare us the true terror of the film: these are people like us.