Is Inside About Depression?


I recently played through “Inside”, the new game from Playdead studios, the makers of Limbo, and I didn’t think it deserved all the praise it was getting. It plays great, it’s fun, and it’s eerie, but it didn’t resonate with me at all. All of these publications and reviewers are giving it 10/10s or scores very close to that, but I found myself disagreeing because of one simple fact: What does it mean?

I tried to understand the situation and everything going on, and I kind of did, but overall I was left feeling incomplete. At least, until somebody asked me what games she should play on her new Xbox One. I responded with Inside, and it got me thinking about something; is Inside about depression? I started piecing things together and realized that everything in the game that I could think of has a meaning in the world of depression. I suffer from depression myself, so I know the variety of feelings and experiences and have used that in figuring out if my theory was crazy or solidified. The words “represents” and “signifies” will be used very often in this article. Now lets look at the clues, shall we?

THE NAME – The name “Inside” would be referring to the fact that the game represents an inner struggle.

THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME – The main character is constantly chased to the point where he has to enter the facility. This signifies the feeling of first being led into depression. It’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings that tend to feel like they are coming straight at us that led us to depression.

THE FACILITY – The facility represents depression itself. The most common theme within the facility itself is control. There is a moment where you have to act just like everybody else, you have to act how you are told. When depressed you often feel like you aren’t in control, you feel like you are being controlled and you either can’t get control of yourself or feel like you will get in trouble if you don’t do exactly as you are told.

THE WATER – The water portions signify the pressure you feel in day to day life. Whether it is doing normal activities or to try and be happy and communicate with people, you feel a constant stream of pressure to not let people know about your depression. The submarine doesn’t have a meaning and is just a game-play element.

KID IN THE WATER – The kid represents yourself, or at least the portion of yourself that has already been taken over by the depression. That side of you feels like a monster and constantly tries to drag you down, and is accurately represented as a kid type of creature.

THE MACHINE – The machine is a heartbeat. It’s loud and always weighing on you. It’s always on your mind as you fight your way through.

THE BLOB – The blob signifies hope. That with the help of loved ones and peers you will have the strength to pull through and finally escape the darkness inside of you. ALTERNATIVE: The blob could signify the culmination of all of your fears, your shattered dreams, and your broken emotions. It is the moment when you finally break down and don’t care about what or who gets hurt in the process.

THE ENDING – The most underwhelming part of the game seems to have one of the biggest impacts. It signifies that you have finally done it, finally managed to break free of the darkness and sadness holding on to you, but you are just so drained emotionally or physically. ALTERNATIVE: After everything is smashed and you find yourself free, it could mean that you have finally given up, that you just used all of your remaining strength to go on the warpath and now you have nothing left to give. You leave yourself for dead.

ALTERNATE ENDING – The orbs that you unplug represent truth’s, and when you collect all of them you start back at the beginning, Meaning collect all the truth’s you start back down the rabbit hole of depression. ALTERNATIVE: The alternative is much more dreadful. Collecting all of the truth’s is too overwhelming, and the final part of the ending signifies your death.

Many parts such as the submarine, the puzzles, the dying and restarting sections, are all there for game-play elements and I don’t believe have meaning behind them.

I believe Inside is about falling into and finding the strength to beat depression.

Have you played Inside? Can you see the connections I’ve made, or do you disagree with some or all of it? Comment below, I would really like to hear your thoughts. Have I made a discovery or are they merely ramblings of a madman? The world may never know.

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About Elijah Steele

Elijah is an all around gamer who plays anything and everything. His favorite games are Final Fantasy 7, Bioshock, and the Hatsune Miku series among others. His specialties include Sony and import games. He will take any gaming challenge thrown at him. You can follow him on Twitter @Locolizardman.