NOTE: This post and its comments section will contain spoilers for Inside. Do not, under any circumstances, continue reading if you think you'll ever get around to playing this incredible game. Trust me when I say you don't want it spoiled.
About ten minutes prior to the credits rolling on Inside, there came a moment of such unexpected weirdness, such mind-blowing craziness, such grotesquerie that I literally got to my feet in excitement. I'd been laying virtually motionless on the couch for just under four hours - alternating between feeling terrified and amused - but when this moment arrived the dam finally broke. I stood up and I yelled, "What in the actual fuck?!" at my television. As you do.
Upon wrapping up Inside's bizarre final stretch (I agree with our own Andrew Todd: that finale is oddly triumphant), I sat down and stared at "myself" on the banks of that...what is that, anyway? An ocean? A lake? And what have I become? I am a mass of appendages and flesh. I am capable of moaning in sorrow or surprise. But is that it? Will I evolve? Will I escape into the water? Or will I die there in the sun? How do I feel about that?
I had a hundred questions. I felt a dozen different emotions. And so, when I was done staring at Inside's final screen, I went poking around to see what other people had to say about the experience. Surely the internet was having a field day with this thing.
The internet was, in fact, having a field day with this thing. Inside fan theories are everywhere. Some of them, like this one I came across over on Reddit, struck me as clever:
"The game is an allegory of a human body. You are playing inside a body as a red blood cell. Eventually the boy sheds his red coat and becomes a white blood cell and removes the blob, which symbolizes a tumor. The tumor is then extracted from the body and dies outside of its host."
Others, which I will not link to in order to avoid being a dick about it, were not so clever. More troublingly, I found that even the best of them conveniently avoided mentioning a number of pesumably very important elements from the game. They might account for, say, the mind-control helmets and the research facility and the zombie-like drones which populate Inside's world, but they wouldn't explain the significance of the "soundwaves", or the briefly-glimpsed diorama, or the violent, mermaid-like creatures dwelling in the game's underwater segments. There were theories, but very few of them - if any! - might be considered comprehensive.
Here's one analysis I enjoyed, via YouTuber Max Derrat.
Not only does Derrat point out a few things I missed on my playthrough (what the hell are those tanks doing in the forest?), but he also manages to put forth a theory which incorporates some of those elements (like the "mermaids") that other fan theories have left dangling. I'm not sure I totally buy his read on the game, but I think it's as valid and cohesive a theory as any I've heard yet.
Anyway, I've spent no small amount of time thinking about Inside ever since I finished it last night, and I'm aware that many of you have already played the game. And with that in mind, I wanted to open up the floor to all of you to discuss the game's symbolism, its ending, and its many, many strange little grace notes. Let's hear what you have to say about Inside, and - if you've got one - please take this opportunity to share your read on Playdead's latest. I'm open to hearing anything about this game.