In Between Review – PC/Steam
Imprecise controls can lead to death
The PC platform continues to prove it is the best place to play games; especially indie games like In Between, the stunning and deeply moving new puzzle-platformer now available on Steam. This game is already winning awards and rightly so. While I have seen this same gameplay concept executed in other titles, it has never been done so with the artistic style and reverence of storytelling as In Between.
In this game you play a man trapped in his own head. If my interpretation of events is correct, the man is in a coma or perhaps trapped in a near-death experience. You’ll revisit key moments from his life told through gorgeous hand painted art pop-ups and lavish background, mixed with old-school hand-drawn animation techniques. All of the stunning visuals are further enhanced with an incredible score (available separately or as part of the deluxe bundle) and soothing narration that gives the game an almost bedtime story like quality.
As far as gameplay, there are scattered 2D scrolling sections where you simple move to advance the story and bear witness to some devilishly clever transitions such as seeing the man go from a wheelchair to walking or seeing a grown man enter a backyard tent only to emerge as a young boy. But the majority of gameplay takes place in 60 challenging levels that will test your sense of direction and concepts of gravity.
Each maze-like level has an exit that you must navigate toward by walking, falling, and sometimes doing midair corrections to land on platforms or hazard free sections of the level. Most of the surrounding surfaces are covered in razor teeth that will force you to restart the level if touched. You have the ability to control gravity in any of the four cardinal directions effectively allowing you to walk on walls or even the ceiling. Manipulating gravity, not only for yourself but also to move objects within the level, is the core mechanic to find your path through each level.
In Between keeps adding in new concepts and challenges as well. One such early addition is an encroaching blackness that will consume our hero. Initially, you are just running away from the darkness but later you will be able to “face” your fears and hold the inky blackness at bay. What really stood out for me was that concepts such as this darkness were rooted in the quality storytelling taking place behind the puzzles. Often you will fall into an area and the background will dissolve into a colorful rendering telling more of the story or perhaps a new memory. Stories in puzzles games are usually inconsequential but the narrative in In Between really kept me playing, even when the challenging puzzles started to melt my brain.
In Between is available on Steam for only $12 (or $15 with the soundtrack), and if you like puzzle-platformers then I can’t recommend this one highly enough. As of this review I’m about 65% through the entire game and loving every minute of it. The difficulty is high but it’s a tolerable ramp leading up to those final puzzles. Often, you will know the solution and just have to master the skills of navigation to reach the exit portal and move on to the next. I don’t know where this journey is going to take me but I can’t wait to find out.
If my review hasn’t sold you on a purchase yet then I encourage you to go play the FREE DEMO and judge for yourself.