Developer/publisher Playdead Format PC, PS4, Xbox One
It’s not necessarily pitched as such, but Playdead’s long-gestating follow-up to Limbo is the smartest and most frightening horror game of the past few years, a purgatorial nightmare that exerts a ferocious grip, even as its stiflingly oppressive atmosphere threatens to overwhelm you. Inside is, unquestionably, the better of the Copenhagen studio’s two games, lacking Limbo’s tendency towards cruel tricks and hollow jolts. Instead, it offers a more insidious, unsettling slow burn of mounting dread, spacing out surprises that are executed with Hitchcockian precision. Its sound design is exceptional, from ominous bassy rumblings to the piercing barks of chasing dogs, each echoing yap raising your heart rate a little higher. And, at least until
The Last Guardian came along, it boasted the year’s most mesmeric climax – a macabre twist leading to an exhilarating escape sequence that’s just as ghoulishly funny as it is horrifying. Many videogames offer glimpses of dystopian futures; perhaps
Inside’s greatest achievement is that its own feels electrifyingly unique.