|This isn't quite what little Billy had in mind when he said he wanted to hang out with his friends.|
Limbo is a new game developed by Playdead Studios available on Xbox Live. It is a puzzle based game featuring a surreal, monochromatic setting in which you play a young boy searching for his little sister across a ghastly, ever-changing landscape. The game was released on July 21st, 2010.
The Princess’s Take:
The Warlock heard about this from Game Informer. Between the haunting description of the game and the critical praise it received, I was instantly intrigued. We checked it out and I have to say – it did not disappoint.
The gameplay is very simple, with only two main commands (jump and walk/run) and the option to push and pull various objects. Despite having such a limited range of options, it is amazing how many clever puzzles are presented. One of the things I loved about these puzzles was I found their challenge level optimal – not too easy to the point of you getting bored but also not too difficult that you are pulling your hair out. It’s challenging, but in no way impossible.
One of the great things the developers did with this game was to not have background music, but instead focus on atmospheric sounds. This effect works wonders to create truly eerie experience to an already creepy game. You can hear the boy’s feet crunching against the grass; hear the cracking of glass and the currents of electricity passing through power lines. It was an effective technique to draw players into the setting.
As for the visuals, the black on white silhouette style makes it look like you are watching some kind of horrific shadow puppet show. It’s another element that helps create a complete thematic of the macabre. The interaction with the environment is the main part of puzzle solving in this game, and the developers did a terrific job at doing just enough details to foreground without compromising the simplistic allure of the game.
This is a pretty quick game to play. It took me and The Warlock roughly six or seven hours to get through. For some, it might seem too short for the price tag ($10 USD), but I like playing quicker games and I think the price is well worth what you get in return.
Overall, this game hit all the marks for me. It’s pretty much got exactly what I want out of a game and has such a captivating stylized format that I think many gamers will find this an enjoyable play.
5 out of 5 stars
The Warlock’s Take:
Besides being a simple well put together game this is a great hook to pull in someone who plays video games more casually, or doesn’t want to watch you play Modern Warfare or WoW. While it’s single player it’s still fun to figure out puzzles with a partner, and the creepy setting can set up a nice horror movie effect, complete with sudden deaths, and squeals. Just the thing to set the right mood.
The simplicity of the controls makes it great for handing off as well, and the game can engage both experienced and new gamers.
I won’t get into the great visuals and audio as The Princess already hit on them, but it is amazing what they did with a minimalist game in a world currently ruled by hyper-realism.
For the down side: The replayablity of the game is limited, with the exception of running around to get all the achievements, once you’ve figured out all the puzzles that’s pretty much it, and the game is fairly short. But it’s a downloadable game and 10 bucks and your already getting everything else we mentioned out of it. It can be a fun thing to throw on for a guest, and can even lead to some philosophical debates and conversations, not bad for a download.
4.5 out of 5 stars