Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lumbering Into Limbo

Finally had a chance to sit down and play Limbo, recently released on Xbox Live Arcarde. It's one of those games that isn't quite fitting into mainstream, but can easily grab people's attention. One thing I have to say about Sony and Microsoft, they are giving the little game designers a chance. Granted EA will probably buy them out in the next 3-5 years, but it's nice to know that there are other options.

Positives:

Black and white and grey all over. For a lack of color, this game has a vibrant personality. The landscape is very distinct, and the simplistic nature of the color works well for the game. There are moments where the only specks of light are the white of your character's eyes. It helps to stir feelings within the gamer that best project the character on the screen, which is only enhanced by the limited color. It's a psychological, mind bending experience.

Simple puzzle platforming. For simple colors you need a simple game. And that's what Limbo does well. If it were too complex, it wouldn't be as enjoyable. The concept is quite simple. You are a boy who wakes up in a forest with no clue how you arrived at your location. All you know is that you need to figure out who you are, why you're there, and how to get out. Even the control scheme is quite simple. Joystick to move, A to jump, B for action. You don't need to do anything else.

Sound is epically absent. And that's a good thing. If the game were littered with music, the visual and psychological warfare on the user wouldn't be as powerful. Sound effects and music are only used to heighten certain moments in the game. It provides a more sensory experience.

Negatives:

Easy to get stuck. Like a puzzle game, you need to drag items with you and connect the dots, etc. But sometimes you don't know what you need until you get to that puzzle point. And then you try to go back and pick up the piece and find that your boat doesn't go back. There isn't a checkpoint to reset from. Nope. You have to start the level all over again. Which is a giant pain in the butt if you've spent a lot of time working through the maze. As the user, you lose that feeling of being in the game when you're stuck with no way out, and you find yourself not wanting to replay the level all over again.

Overall, this is a fantastic independent game. Strongly recommend this as a buy for everyone.

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