Inside review

My anticipation for Inside could hardly have been greater. I’m a huge fan of Playdead’s first outing, Limbo, and after reading a slew of gushing reviews of its latest game it was all I could do to wait the extra week for it to be released for PC.

Boy was it not worth the wait.

Trailers for Inside had hinted at a slightly different style of game to Limbo’s 2D, side-scrolling puzzling action. One that was more three dimensional (figuratively and literally), told more of a direct story and that included an intriguing dystopian society setting, potentially providing an extra level of depth and engagement over the bleak fantastical world of Limbo.

However, the reality is that it’s very much the same game with a slightly tweaked visual style, a few new additions to the formula and an even more unsatisfying, abrupt ending.

Indeed it’s the length of this game that is a crucial failing. At around three hours long it feels distinctly lightweight. While other highly praised indie games such as Journey and indeed Limbo are equally short, the six year development period for this game, and the fact it’s built on the back of the success of Limbo, leaves you expecting more.

Then there’s the fact it starts in exactly the same way, with a seemingly lost boy in a woods, escaping some unknown evil. On one level it’s a fun nod back to Limbo but on another it feels like retreading the same path.

Not that this game is a complete disaster, by any means.

The setting looks stunning and has a wonderful weight and depth to it. There are also some amazing set pieces, and in fact it is the opening sections of the game that feel like they have the most atmosphere as you escape your pursuers through woods and farmland. It’s as you get into the mysterious cityscape sections shown so prominently in the trailers that the game starts to feel a bit generic.

The flow of the game and puzzle design also means you’re constantly kept guessing and on edge but seldom frustrated. Like with something like Half Life 2, there’s a real sense of the game having been honed to perfection.

There are also some clever new puzzle ideas and fun, tense moments such as when you’re having to imitate being one of the brainless mass of bodies that otherwise seem to occupy this world.

Unfortunately, it’s just that there aren’t enough of those truly great moments and the rest of the game just feels a bit weak. The puzzles tend to be on the easy side, with just a couple of occasions early on where it takes a bit of head scratching to figure out the game’s tricks.

Several of the puzzles are overly drawn out too, requiring protracted fetch and carry missions over fairly large maps. Although it has been a while since I’ve played Limbo, from what I recall I don’t remember the puzzles ever being so large and tedious.

In the end, though, the key failing of this game comes down to Playdead’s attempt to make it enigmatic. To make a rich, engaging environment that hints at all sorts of weird goings on that you want to learn more about, but to then completely hold back on explaining anything.

While I can take an ambiguous ending, Inside has gone too far. It’s stepped into the realm of the TV show Lost. Meandering around, hinting at this and that, and then finishing on a thoroughly unsatisfying zinger.

It’s worth playing, simply because it’s only three hours long and is quite the odd experience, but I’d wait for it to drop to a fiver and lower your expectations of greatness.

Download Inside from Steam

Burden of the Noose playing live in a kitchen in Brighton

Burden of the Noose played a gig in a tiny terraced house in Brighton a couple of months back. The students living there just save up their money and put on shows every once in a while, setting up the amps and drum kit in the kitchen and having the rest of the house for everyone to party in!

It was a bizarre yet brilliant evening and we had great fun playing with the likes of Gurt and A Horse Called War.

Check out the video below… what would the neighbours think:



Check out Burden of the Noose on Facebook or YouTube

Burden of the Noose tour video

Finally got round to publishing the tour compilation video I made of Burden of the Noose when we played a few shows round the UK back in… damn! Late 2014!

Live footage from Bolton, Cheltenham, Birmingham and Nottingham all set to the track Art of Being Weird.


Dell XPS 13 (2015) Review


My latest post for TechyTalk:

It has taken long enough but finally one of Apple’s competitors has built a machine that can wrestle the “best ultrabook” crown from the MacBook Air. The 2015 version of the Dell XPS 13 is smaller, lighter and has a vastly superior screen than the Air and it even undercuts it on price – the most crucial factor that every competitor has so far got wrong.

Read my full Dell XPS 13 (2015) review on TechyTalk

BOTN Gig Review: Anaal Nathrakh + Gore Tech + Conjurer @ Hare & Hounds, Birmingham


A review of our recent gig at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, Birmingham has just been posted on

The lineup was headlined by Anaal Nathrakh, along with GoreTech, us (Burden of the noose) and Conjurer and this is what the site had to say:

“A step or two ahead of Conjurer are local hardcore headcases Burden Of The Noose. This gig caught them on a high, still buzzing like a hornet from their recent inspiring performance at Bloodstock. Burden of the Noose may have started out a bit like Raging Speedhorn with a double vocal barrage, but for the past year or so they’ve been operating with just as much success with the singing now left entirely to Andy. And what a good job this bearded dynamo does. Jumpier than a box of crickets, the singer careers from one side of the stage to the other, barking out such Burden classics as opening number ‘Circle Of Shit’, ‘Family Affair’ and ‘Deaf And Insane’.”

For the full gig review head over to

Photo by Rich Thompson

Toshiba Kira (2015) review


My latest review for TrustedReviews:

The Toshiba Kirabook (Kira in the UK) has been the company’s premium 13in ultrabook line for a number of years now and its latest incarnation brings with it an optional 2,560 x 1,440 touchscreen, the latest Intel Broadwell processors and nearly 10 hours battery life.

All wrapped up in a slim and light magnesium alloy chassis, on paper it’s certainly got what it takes to beat the likes of the MacBook Air 13in, Dell XPS 13 (2015) and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015). The question is whether it lives up to that expectation.

Read my full Toshiba Kira (2015) review at TrustedReviews

Asus ZenWatch Review


My latest post for TechyTalk:

“The Asus ZenWatch is a smart watch running Google’s Android Wear operating system. It sports a 320 x 320 pixel AMOLED screen and has a battery that lasts about a day and a half.

It’s one of the better looking Android Wear watches with a well thought out design that doesn’t worry too much about looking like a conventional watch but embraces the features it has.”

Read my full Asus ZenWatch Review at Techytalk.

Bare Knuckle Warpigs vs Seymour Duncan Distortion

I recently swapped the pickups on my main guitar – a Gibson Les Paul Gothic – from the Bareknuckle Warpigs I’d been using for ten years to a Seyour Duncan Distortion in the Bridge and a Seymour Duncan ’59 in the neck.

To see how they sounded before and after I record myself playing a few riffs and posted the result to youtube. The result is below.

Dr Schar Mini Os


Dr Schar Mini Os are a classic chocolate biscuit sandwich with a creamy filling but free from the horrors of gluten and wheat.

The “mini” part of the name is very accurate: these are tiny biscuits that come in a tiny pack. There are around 10 1.5in diameter biscuits per pack and I could quite easily eat the whole lot in on sitting.

They’re not cheap either at around £1.50 – £2.00 per pack – about three times the price of normal biscuits.

They also suffer from that most common of gluten free qualities: a dry, chalky mouth feel. It’s a shame as otherwise they’re reasonably tasty.

The biscuit has a good bite to it and the overall chocolaty flavour is decent.

I tended to find that when I was in the mood to not mind the chalkiness these were perfectly satisfying but other times I found it more irksome.

Overall, it’s not a biscuit I’d make a beeline for but would buy if it was the only suitable option.



Tesco Finest Free From Millionaires Shortbread


Tesco’s Finest Free From Millionaires Shortbread are a premium gluten free, though not dairy free, alternative to the real thing.

They’re pricey, at around £2 for a pack of five, though each piece is a decent size.

The flavour is pretty good too, though I’d hardly say it’s the “Finest.”

Crucially, though, these do at least taste genuine, unlike the Morrisons equivalent (though in fairness, the Morrisons one is dairy free too).

There’s a strong caramel flavour, a hint of chocolate and you can immediately sense the unctuousness of the all butter recipe.

However, the chocolate is a little thick, causing the caramel to squidge everywhere when you bite in, plus it’s hardly the most flavoursome chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

The biscuit is a bit insipid too.

It’s a solid effort but falls short of providing the real satisfaction that such a treat should provide.