03 . 18 . 2024

Playdead’s INSIDE


For years I’ve been hearing that I need to play this game. 

I never really knew why, as I didn’t bother to do any research. I just kept hearing praise about it. Apparently it often goes on sale for $1.99 on the Nintendo Switch eShop, so I added INSIDE to my collection for a low price. I soon discovered what the game was about – a young boy surviving under an unspecified oppressive regime. This piqued my interest, as I’ve long had a fascination with dystopian societies and evil governments. They serve as a reminder of what can happen when human beings make their own gods. 

So, was this game worth all the praise? How do its themes relate to the faith? Join me as I finally take the time to review a game that wasn’t made by Nintendo. 

The Gameplay

There is no intro cutscene to this game – you’re immediately given control of a nameless boy on the move in the forest. All you can do is run, jump, and press A to interact with objects. It’s clear from the start that this game is more about telling a story and solving puzzles. You travel only forwards for what seems like miles, through cornfields, abandoned buildings, factories… always working hard to make it to the next location. You’ll often find yourself stuck below a ledge or at a door, required to complete some series of actions before you can move on. 

I found these sequences to be decently rewarding and pretty interesting. It really felt like I was discovering the path forward on my own, without being hand-held along the way. It was particularly enjoyable when elements that I thought were just for show or ambience would turn out to be part of the solution. At the same time, the monotone graphics, dark environments and lack of pointers often made it difficult to understand what I could actually interact with in the first place and sometimes left me wandering around for a while.  

You won’t want to let these dogs loose.

The puzzle sequences are split up by more intense sections, usually requiring you to act a bit quicker on your feet or do some light platforming to avoid an enemy or environmental hazard. Being an M-rated game, things can get quite graphic – be prepared to see the kid get mauled by dogs, impaled by objects, or even blown up into pieces, with lots of blood. The cartoony graphics do make these moments a bit less gruesome, and it’s not like the game makes an effort to zoom in on them like you might see in other titles.

While it did make me a bit uncomfortable, it served as a reminder that people under oppressive regimes have certainly experienced such horrors, since these situations are (for the most part) realistic. I would therefore say this game leans less heavily on “violence for the sake of violence” and more “violence for the sake of narrative”. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it was included just for shock value. Oh yeah, speaking of the narrative… 

The Story

INSIDE is one of those games that likes to tell a mysterious, somewhat ambiguous tale leaving interpretations of specifics up to the player. I tend to dislike this approach for a variety of reasons. First, when I’m playing a game, I enjoy getting the opportunity to uncover something I’ve already encountered in a new light. How did this organization come to be? What are their overarching goals? I was very disappointed to see that such things are never clarified, even upon discovering all the secret areas hidden throughout the game. 

Secondly, it leaves me dissatisfied feeling like I’ve been cheated out of a full story. Yes, I understand that there is some enjoyment to be had in coming up with your own theories, but that can be offered to the player without leaving so many loose ends. I want to see what the writers were able to come up with, to engross myself with a narrative that I never could have imagined. As it stands, INSIDE certainly kept me interested with its strange and unsettling visuals, and made me think about the world… but I was never able to fully connect with what was going on, because you’re never given a solid idea. 

The Graphics

The graphics didn’t wow me or anything, but I think they worked well for what the game was trying to accomplish – when I was able to see everything around me, at least. The shadows and lighting were pretty nice, which worked well with the various environments. Some games like to reuse assets a bit too often, but INSIDE doesn’t let anything overstay its welcome, only repeating things that were directly tied to gameplay elements. 

From a faith perspective

Playdead’s INSIDE shows us a society that has seemingly decided to live without God. There are no sort of religious references to be found, and the human murder and experimentation seem very reminiscent of the atheist regimes of the 1900s (Germany, Soviet Union, etc). Clearly, human life has little value to these people. There’s not a single instance in which the player is permitted to survive upon being captured – it’s almost always an instant death, and sometimes a brutal one at that. 

The game can therefore serve as a reminder to us that many values we hold to be essential truths don’t make sense without the existence of God. Sure, from a survival point of view, it can be good to keep others alive – but what about when they get old? What if they’re disabled? Without God and eternal life in the picture, a human life ceases to have value the moment it becomes a “burden” on the state. And in that case, you may as well get rid of them or run experiments for the sake of the productive people. 

This is one of the many reasons Catholics are vocal about the value of human life from conception until natural death. Failing to give all people the proper protections and dignity they deserve is not only a grave injustice, but a recipe for a disastrous society like the one in this game. 


I can’t say INSIDE exactly lived up to the praises I had heard – but for $1.99 it was more than worth the price, and isn’t a huge commitment, only taking a few hours to complete. Even if I would have liked more clarification with the story, I was still entertained with the interesting environments and puzzles that were plentiful throughout the whole experience. 

Scoring: 80%

Graphics: 4.5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Story: 3.5/5

Morality/Parental Warnings

Violence: Getting killed in this game usually comes with blood, sounds and visuals of bones being broken, or even coming apart in pieces. Human experimentation and mutilation is present. However, do note that the people and animals are quite cartoony and even lack faces, which brings the gruesomeness down a bit. Still, it’s violent enough to be rated M by the ESRB.

About Catoons

Catoons is the founder of Catholic Game Reviews and a future engineer. He’s a primarily a Nintendo fan, but also enjoys exploring the wider video game market on PC.

He encourages you to pray for the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis for gamers around the world!