19-07-2011 12:43 PM - edited 19-07-2011 12:43 PM
If Edgar Allen Poe played, created and shared...
Every once in a while a game comes along that blends the traditional conventions we've grown accustomed to while posing a question : Videogame or interactive art?
The initial genius of Limbo lies in it’s simplicity. At its black heart lies a puzzle-platformer with two simple commands, jump and action, the latter allowing you to manipulate certain objects within the game.
Your character, a wide-eyed silhouette of a little boy gains consciousness in a bleak monochrome forest. At no point are you given a reason as to why he’s there or where ‘there‘ is. He pulls himself to his feet and you take control. Instinct kicks in, you push right on the analogue stick and the torment begins.
As you begin your journey it becomes apparent that you are not alone in this world and your co-habitants intentions are not friendly. At every turn you are victimised by featureless characters seemingly committed to impeding your progress as well as a frankly terrifying, relentless ‘Monster’.
The early stages soon give way to an industrial wasteland, the tone changes slightly from one of pursuit and escape to physics based puzzles. Each area is excellently crafted and fiendishly designed. You will often find yourself staring blankly at the screen unable to solve a certain section while resisting the urge to consult Youtube. The process of sustained trial and error may frustrate some but at no point did I feel, upon solving a puzzle, that the game was at fault for my many explicitly animated deaths. In this respect Limbo reminds me of Portal, the solution may be staring you in the face and the tools you need to succeed are all present, you’re simply required to think outside of the box.
Visually Limbo is immediately arresting. The stark, grainy minimalist look of the world is beautifully realised while the animation has to be seen to be believed at times. Since it’s a game preoccupied with mortality the death animations are frequently graphic in their execution and can leave you shocked. Technically Limbo runs smoothly with not a sniff of slowdown or screen tearing.
The feeling of helplessness is supplemented further by the eerie sound design. The developer largely chooses to ditch traditional music in favour of jarring, industrial sound effects and single notes that build to a small crescendo, cranking up the tension further.
Limbo is a difficult game to categorise. Fans of Ico will immediately recognise the atmosphere of isolation while the physics based puzzles nod to a Little Big Planet level designed by a depressed individual. Limbo isn’t by any means a long game, clocking in at around 5 hours on my first playthrough, smarter types may finish it in half that time but in the end I doubt you’ll feel short changed by the experience.
I can’t praise Limbo enough. It’s a fascinating, brutal, frightening and lonely experience that possesses the unique ability to shock and amaze in equal measure. Within minutes you’ll realise you’re charged with this kids care and trust me, you’ll start to take that responsibility very seriously. The sombre tone may be too much for sunnier types and the sudden, open ending may leave you numb but it’s worth getting there to experience the craft, care and thought applied to every second of it. A mini masterpiece.
on 19-07-2011 12:47 PM
19-07-2011 01:20 PM - edited 19-07-2011 01:22 PM
Its out tomorrow and I didn't leave any coin in the back after this weekends antics so it will have to wait until next week
I played the demo last months at my mates after the pub and fell straight in love with it. I was so glad when I heard it was coming to PSN (with a little extra surprise, although I think that soon got spoiled so I stopped reading about it).
on 19-07-2011 04:34 PM
on 24-07-2011 08:22 PM
Im a good hours/hour 30 into Limbo, and still not one trophy, is this the norm then?
iirc the trophies are dropped in little egg things you step over for doing certain things. It took me a while to realise that too.
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