Earlier this year, Playdead released the dark platformer Inside to critical acclaim and more than a few interpretations of its themes, including a takedown of capitalism and an analogy for game development itself.
Content warning: links and excerpt contain major spoilers for Inside.
Tom Willis has another interpretation, published last week at GameSpew. For Willis, Inside is an allegory for depression (Willis also kindly links to our organization in his piece).
The ending of INSIDE is oddly fantastic, but it leaves a more important impression in its final frames. Hope. When the strange, groaning flesh object breaks from the concrete and steel of the facility that the player has been controlling it through, it rests upon a patch of grass with a beam of light upon it. The light at the end of the tunnel. I know, it sounds a simplistic device but it’s all it needs to be. It exudes the faith that in the end things will be okay.
“It’ll be okay in the end”. It’s something that someone with mental health issues will be told all the time. By their family, their friends, their teachers, their doctors. Because they are the circle that the chemical imbalance affects too. It will frustrate them to be told this.
But it’s worth fighting when someone tells you “things will be alright in the end”. Because most of the time they’re right. In the meantime, a game like INSIDE can offer a look at mental health and deserves to be read as a text like any other facet of culture.
Have you played Inside? Did it make you think about mental health, or did it mean something else to you entirely?