What will you reflect upon when the final moments draw near?
Have you ever thought what the end of your life will look like? That is the question that In Between from Gentlymad is trying to answer. This puzzle-platformer has you reflect on the life of a singular man, and how it came ahead through some turbulent times. While this darker story pulled me in, how would In Between actually fare? The answer is, pretty good. While there are mishaps, it managed to keep me engaged until the end.
In Between tells the story of a man who is about to die. The man starts out in a wheelchair and is so feeble he can barely push himself forward. In the next moment, it flashes back to a healthier version of himself. The journey sees his descent into despair in a package that left me amazed for a whole host of reasons. It is a powerful game that leaves you choked up by the end as you explore what he went through. It brings you through his memories, feelings and what holds him back.
The puzzle-platforming aspect of the adventure is straightforward. You move yourself back and forth while changing the area’s gravity. Precise movement is required to navigate the puzzles. The initial ones keep it simple, as you just have to avoid spikes. It doesn't take long before the game starts throwing more complicated obstacles in the way. You will need to use boulders to your advantage and ensure that you have a place to stand. Falling into a trap means getting crushed and restarting the level. Thankfully, there’s no limit on the number of times you can attempt the puzzles, so there’s no need to rush them. In Between is about weighing your options, and putting a singular run in motion. My main issue with the puzzles is that their designs aren't always the best. The puzzles have some obtuse moments that I could do without. The span to react is too small in those instances, which breaks up the overall flow.
For the rest, In Between has an enjoyable pace to it. There’s no way to really prepare for the next onslaught as there’s quite a bit of variety in the obstacles. There will be platforms that move along at their own pace, spiky balls that make leaps of faith tricky and darkness that tries to trap you. While dealing with all of this, the man has inner monologues that explain the mentality behind the puzzles. There are moments where the grey background crumbles down and turns into an important memory. Every step leads to another reason why the main character has so many regrets in his life. It marries gameplay and story to a surprisingly entertaining degree. With 60 puzzles, there is plenty of content to get through.
Graphically, In Between is quite an impressive game. It has a crisp and beautiful style that still stands out in Nintendo Switch's cramped library. The environments and characters look all hand drawn which gives the impression of a world surrounding the man. It represents the various challenges he has to overcome before he can move on to the final chapter of his life. The music does a great job bringing the whole atmosphere home. There is a lot of classical music thrown into the mix, and it fits the theme extremely well.
In Between is a real solid puzzle-platformer in a world with many on Nintendo Switch. The darker tone of the story questions life, death and everything between with care. There are some puzzle bits that could've been formed better, but it is a fantastic game in the grand scheme of things. All in all, this is one of those games I would recommend putting on headphones for and kick it back in handheld mode. The intensity of some individual moments are really well suited for a personal display.