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"[GAME] Limbo"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'LIMBO'.
Wed 22/09/10 at 16:15
Regular
"previously phuzzy."
Posts: 3,487
Another year, another indie-dominated Summer of Arcade. This time, a black and while ‘film noir’ about the edge of hell. Sounds a bit arty. A bit pretentious. A bit… Braid-y.

Well, that’s a bit unfair. The drawing of parallels between 2008’s indie darling Braid and Limbo, the downloadable flavour of the month, is an unavoidable situation. But Limbo is very much its own game. Yes, both are two dimensional platformers. Both come from relatively small developers. Both feature beautiful, unique, fantastically-realised worlds.

But what defines Limbo?

The player is relentlessly denied reprieve. Playing on childhood fears of loneliness, helplessness and darkness, the small victories in each puzzle only punctuate the nightmarish atmosphere. Light at the end of a tunnel serves only to highlight the shadow of an unseen monster. Shapes, figures and traps are forever on the horizon, impeding your progress. Your only companion lies at the end of all this, and the only way to reach her is to warily wander through the oppression.

So why go through this? Behind the beautiful façade lies an accomplished, challenging platformer. The puzzles are about more than just lateral thinking. More akin to a traditional platformer, dexterity and timing are equally crucial, whilst old-school exploration and experimentation are rewarded with achievements. Trial and error plays a big role in solving the conundrums placed in your way, each requiring a mix of speed, accuracy and mental agility. Whilst the last few scenarios feature one or two somewhat unnecessary gameplay gimmicks, for the most part Limbo spoils with clever & engaging tests of skill.

Playdead are not afraid to give the experience room to breathe. There are sections of silence where the danger is not on screen, but in your mind - conjuring up all manner of horrors in the absence of any sensory input. Taking a leap of faith into the darkness, with only the boy’s eyes to light the way, is more fraught with foreboding than the most gruesome survival horrors.

The understated presentation of the game is brutally effective. Rather than complicate affairs with a vast array of objects with which you can interact, you learn early on from visual and audio cues what’s possible and what’s expected of you. Nothing is ever hidden from view on screen. No puzzle obfuscates the solution to artificially extend the experience – the answer will always be staring you in the face. Similarly, sparse use of sound intensifies its effectiveness; when you hear the clang of a trap or scrape of a claw, you know that Limbo is firing a warning shot. Even the multiple ways to die are solemn occasions with no fanfare. Crushed, impaled or drowned - the boy perishes. But next time round, you remember what happened, and you make sure to do it better. I did not enjoy seeing the boy die.

Limbo is an auteurist vision of a game. Unsullied by unnecessary complication, frivolous padding or a rich colour palette, you get the impression that developer has created exactly the experience they originally imagined. To criticise its brevity is to miss the point – longer would have been draining, shorter would have reduced its impact. Where games usually lend themselves only to fleeting feelings of excitement or tension, Limbo manages to elicit fear, sadness and anxiety, as well as joy, satisfaction and wonder. Few can lay claim to that, and even fewer without a word being spoken.

Buy me if… you’re fascinated by gaming curios, and want a perfectly crafted wander through purgatory.

Don’t buy me if… you think more is more, rather than less… or if spiders are a big no-no…

Limbo (XBLA, 1200MSP) is out now.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Wed 22/09/10 at 16:15
Regular
"previously phuzzy."
Posts: 3,487
Another year, another indie-dominated Summer of Arcade. This time, a black and while ‘film noir’ about the edge of hell. Sounds a bit arty. A bit pretentious. A bit… Braid-y.

Well, that’s a bit unfair. The drawing of parallels between 2008’s indie darling Braid and Limbo, the downloadable flavour of the month, is an unavoidable situation. But Limbo is very much its own game. Yes, both are two dimensional platformers. Both come from relatively small developers. Both feature beautiful, unique, fantastically-realised worlds.

But what defines Limbo?

The player is relentlessly denied reprieve. Playing on childhood fears of loneliness, helplessness and darkness, the small victories in each puzzle only punctuate the nightmarish atmosphere. Light at the end of a tunnel serves only to highlight the shadow of an unseen monster. Shapes, figures and traps are forever on the horizon, impeding your progress. Your only companion lies at the end of all this, and the only way to reach her is to warily wander through the oppression.

So why go through this? Behind the beautiful façade lies an accomplished, challenging platformer. The puzzles are about more than just lateral thinking. More akin to a traditional platformer, dexterity and timing are equally crucial, whilst old-school exploration and experimentation are rewarded with achievements. Trial and error plays a big role in solving the conundrums placed in your way, each requiring a mix of speed, accuracy and mental agility. Whilst the last few scenarios feature one or two somewhat unnecessary gameplay gimmicks, for the most part Limbo spoils with clever & engaging tests of skill.

Playdead are not afraid to give the experience room to breathe. There are sections of silence where the danger is not on screen, but in your mind - conjuring up all manner of horrors in the absence of any sensory input. Taking a leap of faith into the darkness, with only the boy’s eyes to light the way, is more fraught with foreboding than the most gruesome survival horrors.

The understated presentation of the game is brutally effective. Rather than complicate affairs with a vast array of objects with which you can interact, you learn early on from visual and audio cues what’s possible and what’s expected of you. Nothing is ever hidden from view on screen. No puzzle obfuscates the solution to artificially extend the experience – the answer will always be staring you in the face. Similarly, sparse use of sound intensifies its effectiveness; when you hear the clang of a trap or scrape of a claw, you know that Limbo is firing a warning shot. Even the multiple ways to die are solemn occasions with no fanfare. Crushed, impaled or drowned - the boy perishes. But next time round, you remember what happened, and you make sure to do it better. I did not enjoy seeing the boy die.

Limbo is an auteurist vision of a game. Unsullied by unnecessary complication, frivolous padding or a rich colour palette, you get the impression that developer has created exactly the experience they originally imagined. To criticise its brevity is to miss the point – longer would have been draining, shorter would have reduced its impact. Where games usually lend themselves only to fleeting feelings of excitement or tension, Limbo manages to elicit fear, sadness and anxiety, as well as joy, satisfaction and wonder. Few can lay claim to that, and even fewer without a word being spoken.

Buy me if… you’re fascinated by gaming curios, and want a perfectly crafted wander through purgatory.

Don’t buy me if… you think more is more, rather than less… or if spiders are a big no-no…

Limbo (XBLA, 1200MSP) is out now.

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