In Between takes place inside the mind of a man who is at the final stages of his life. Combining a very touching story that is told while you navigate through its interactive cutscenes and 60+ levels by changing gravity, avoiding hazards and overcoming obstacles. All set amongst excellent hand painted scenery, that’s complemented by compelling music.
In Between tries to find the balance between story telling and gameplay. while other games will have you wandering around triggering events that continue the story, In Between gives you something to actually do as the story unfolds. As mentioned above, the protagonist is coming to terms with the fact he is dying. Gameplay is a 2D platformer in which you get to manipulate gravity and solve some puzzles to get to the exit of each level. Taking place in the mind of the protagonist as he goes through the stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. These are represented as chapters in the game, with each adding its own element to the gameplay keeping it from going stale. For example, Denial has a black cloud that closes in on you from the edge of the screen, that will envelop you causing a death should it catch you. Although it can be stopped and pushed back by facing it. Anger has red pulsing orbs dotted around each level that again must be avoided else touching them will result in death to.
I do like how it all fits together, i.e. the chapter names and the visual representation of them, such as the afore mentioned red orbs in Anger, it works really well. The gameplay has different paces too, with some of the levels you’ll be rushing to get through to the end before you’re inevitably caught by the black ‘smoke’ in denial as an example, others will require patience and timing to progress through. And again coupled with the different elements that are introduced throughout keep the gameplay fresh.
There are however some difficulty spikes throughout that will become a little frustrating at times. I’m not saying the game should be easy by any means. It’s just that at some points you have to be very precise with your movements and positioning, that if you get it wrong, the death feels a little cheap. Especially on levels where there is no checkpoint, and you have to start from the beginning. Overall though the controls are pretty solid and it does provide some great challenges the give you a sense of accomplishment when you finish a level.
The story is mainly told between chapters, with in my opinion some of the best voice acting I’ve ever heard. all of the cut scenes are interactive as you get to control the protagonist as he walks through each scene. There are snippets of the story told as you play, these are represented by small glowing cracks in the walls, which open up as you pass them giving a small scene and some dialogue. This keeps the story flowing as you play through the game. which again keeps the gameplay and story nicely knitted together.
I really like the visuals, the fact that they are all hand painted scenes makes them feel that there’s more of a personal touch to the game, they’re really nicely done with loads of muted natural tones that fit the mood of the game. The same can be said for the audio, as I’ve already mentioned the voice acting is absolutely brilliant, and although we only ever hear the protagonist speak, that is all that is needed. The music is fantastic too, perfectly matching the games mood, even the sound effects that are played all fall in to place and just fit the game. Some of them are a little hard to describe, but as an example the glass shattering that is heard when you die, and the slow roar of the ‘Anger’ orbs are two that come to mind.