Death is a part of life that we all must eventually face. It is a common theme in video games, but it is typically overlooked and almost never given the proper attention. In Between does its best to make amends with the scope of severity this matter deserves. We all must die, and many of us fear that moment. This indie title focuses on the reality of the fragileness of life and how we cope with it.
Players control a man who has been diagnosed with cancer. Throughout each puzzle, the player must dive deeper into this man’s mind. You will learn about his past, his regrets, his emotions, and how he is dealing with the thought of dying and leaving his family behind. The impressive voice acting is delivered in first-person, giving each line that extra impact and emotion. This narration not only feels convincing, it feels downright heartbreaking. This is not a game you play while multitasking. It will take (and deserves) your full attention to solve complex puzzles, feel the protagonist’s pain, and take in the haunting musical score. The combination of this dark atmosphere and handmade visuals allows for a deep and memorable experience.
Each set of levels is based on another stage of grief. You follow your character through the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance of fate. The interactive story scenes in between each stage give great insight on a realistic and believable human being who I now feel like I actually know. Each section feels unique, giving new obstacles and hazards that relate to each stage of grief. It is a brilliant concept that is very well executed.
In Between’s gameplay is both satisfying and challenging. The player must control the force of gravity and interact with the environment’s surroundings in order to reach the portal at the end of the stage. The gravity-changing mechanics are incredibly fun to experiment with and allow for some truly interesting puzzles. The combination of hazards and the constant addition of obstacles that the player must overcome creates an ever-changing experience that constantly feels fresh and exciting. It is an incredibly satisfying feeling to find the perfect solution after staring at a level for several minutes.
The gameplay constantly changes and never becomes stale, yet while I really enjoy how different each set of levels is, I wish that there was more to do once my four and a half hour playthrough came to an end. I felt that the 60+ levels In Between had to offer were all fantastic, but there just wasn’t enough content to allow for replayability. The addition of something like a time-trial mode would have certainly given In Between much more reason for players to return to its dark and interesting world.
There’s an odd satisfaction that comes with dominating each level and storming into the next stage of grief. In Between will play with your emotions, challenge your intelligence, and leave a lasting impression on you. With the hand-painted environments and well-executed writing and voice acting, it is hard to dismiss this indie title as anything less than art. Gentlymad has created a truly memorable experience; one that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.