In Between is a puzzle-platformer by gentlymad Studios that revolves around a man who learns that he is terminally ill and only has a few days to live. The main character then journeys into what can be seen as a “soul journey” where you as the player follow the narrative of his life and cherished memories by taking him through different puzzle stages that require careful problem solving to reach the end and unlock more story.
This game has much in common with previously released puzzle-platformers like Limbo or Braid, but much closer to the latter in that as the player completes the ever-increasing difficulty of puzzle rooms, the more they learn about the character and the surreal world in which they exist.
In Between utilizes gimmick of gravity manipulation. Stages require careful placement of platforms and gravity inversions to allow the player to get to the exit of each stage. On the way through most stages, a memory will be revealed with narration explaining the moment in the character’s life.
The use of terminal illness as a motivation to drive the player through the puzzle stages in order to learn more about the character and his life is very interesting. While the game definitely builds a mystery to move the player through the game to learn about the character’s life, I don’t think it works quite as well as the complete mysteries that were presented in a game like Braid. Braid’s mystery was that from the beginning, we didn’t understand the character, the surreal world, or that any of the story that was, in total, an allegory for the creation of the atomic bomb. So there the player was not only forced to problem solve the level puzzles, but decipher the narrative as they played.
But there are definitely interesting questions presented by In Between. One curiosity is that at the pause menu, you are in control of a young kid (that looks like the main character just as a young teen) in his room playing an arcade cabinet. This kind of meta-game scenario is very interesting and creative.
In Between is definitely an acquired taste as it does require epic patience and problem solving to navigating the ever increasing difficulty of the puzzle rooms. Later levels require precise platforming and careful consideration of the next moves to clear the stage. That linear progression of difficulty parallels the increasing frustration of the player. So this game is most certainly for fans of puzzle games like Portal or Braid, but also can enjoy a different art style and 2D platforming.
This review of In Between is based on a digital copy for the PlayStation 4 which was provided by the publisher.