Indie developer Playdead hits a second home-run with Inside, the critically acclaimed followup to Limbo – one of the best side scrolling games ever made. Inside is a puzzle platformer where you control a lone boy running away from (or towards?) forces unknown. His journey takes him through a dark and haunting world filled with unnerving imagery used to tell an abstract, yet still emotional, story. Adding to the creep factor is the game’s B-horror movie inspired music created through the use of an actual human skull. Yikes! Games like Inside sure know how to set a freaky mood.
Because of our love for the game, we decided to put together an exclusive list of 10 Best Side Scroller Games Like Inside that’ll keep you occupied long after you’ve had your fill of dangling bodies and mind-control helmets. Keep in mind that none of these games are exact analogues of Inside, though they do share a lot of key gameplay elements in common.
Selection Criteria of Our List
- Gorgeous art. Like Inside, each game must showcase stunning visual aesthetics, distinct in its own right. Dark / creepy / foreboding atmospheres are a major plus – but not a necessity.
- Side scroller. A fixed side-view perspective is a must. Both 2D and 2.5D environments are acceptable.
- Puzzle elements: There should be a range of different types of puzzles to solve throughout the game.
- Immersive storytelling. Each game must try to weave an overarching plot, abstract or otherwise.
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Duh! Limbo is the most obvious choice when it comes to best side scrolling games like Inside. First of all, the game’s visuals are just as alluring, pulling us into a shadowy monochromatic world inspired by the haunting imagery of German Expressionism with a touch of film noir. In addition, puzzles are equally satisfying, requiring a similar balance of brains and reflexes. The plot is also willfully minimalist as you guide a silent boy on his quest to find his missing sister lost in the treacherous woods.
2. Never Alone
Never Alone weaves the tale of Nuna and her Arctic fox companion as they struggle their way through an unyielding blizzard. Similar to other best side scrolling games like Inside, you’ll spend a good amount of time solving puzzles to unlock new areas to explore and progress the story. The plot here is also actually quite refreshing, being uniquely inspired by indigenous Alaskan folklore. Aesthetically, Never Alone carries a less foreboding tone than Inside, although the game’s scrimshaw-inspired art is easily just as gorgeous in its minimal use of colors.
The game has received some criticism for its slightly imprecise controls and companion AI. Still, Never Alone remains a clear shoo-in for this list with its beautiful environments, clever puzzles, and intriguing plot.
Deadlight drops you smack center in a bleak zombie-infested Seattle set in the 1980s. Unlike a few other games like Inside, there’s a bit more of a well-defined story here as you take control of Randell Wayne in his search for his missing wife and daughter. The plot that unfolds is filled with unexpected twists and turns that’ll keep you captivated from start to finish. Stylistically, Deadlight does share a similar dreary atmosphere to Inside but with more urban landscapes and a grittier comic-book feel. The game is also much more action-heavy, though there’s still tons of platforming action and puzzles to solve.
Buggy controls and (at times) wonky animations snatch a few points off this otherwise enjoyable side scroller. Despite these issues, Deadlight is still a solid recommendation for anyone keen on more games like Inside.
4. The Swapper
The Swapper is inarguably one of the best side scrolling games like Inside released in recent years. You play as a member of a space crew sent to collect resources from an uninhabitable desert planet. The plot quickly expands into what can only be described as ‘sci-fi existentialism’. A key mechanic of the game lets you create up to four clones of yourself in order to solve a number of challenging puzzles. This feature is a little reminiscent of Inside’s ‘mind-control’ gameplay since all clones will move in the same direction as the main one you’re controlling. In addition, The Swapper possesses a highly distinctive art style with assets originally modelled in clay before being digitised into the game’s haunting sci-fi environments.
Overall, The Swapper is a gorgeous, at times difficult, but ultimately rewarding side scroller worth every minute of your time. One of our favorites on this list!
Similar to many games like Inside, Monochroma is a visually gorgeous side-scroller set in a dark and gloomy world with a story told entirely through actions and symbolisms. Like Inside and Limbo, you control a boy – only this time accompanied with a brother whom you must carry and defend. You’ll spend most of your time solving puzzles and navigating platforms, with a few tense Inside-ish chase scenes thrown in.
Sadly, somewhat unresponsive controls prevent Monochroma from achieving the same acclaim as other best side scrolling games like Inside. Nonetheless, this indie gem is still worth checking out for its immensely memorable setting and (mostly) well-implemented puzzles.
More best side scrolling games like Inside.
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