Welcome to a new post in Video Game Rage that I’m sure will come up quite often. This is a simple way for me to talk about certain things I like in great video games. Every post in the ‘3 Reasons You Should Play’ series will be about a game that I enjoy greatly. These are games that I consider ‘great games’, games that I would recommend to most of my friends to play in a heartbeat. You, readers, are my friends too, so consider this a recommendation to you as well. In fact, if any of you play any of the games in these posts then I will consider that a win for both me and you.
LIMBO is a game that nourishes that inner child murderer that exists within all of us. That part of us that we are much too afraid of to actually admit is real. In all seriousness LIMBO is an artsy fartsy game that follows a young boy’s journey as he attempts to survive limbo. The game is available for XBLA, PSN and PC/Mac/Linux. If you can get your hands on it, I say go and get your hands on it. It’s short, but it’s bound to be cheaper now than it was. I think it even is on sale until Tuesday on the XBLA for half price. Why should you play it? I don’t want to put it here, read on beyond the cut and you’ll find out why.
1) The Atmosphere is Incredible
This game has a thick coat of minimalism painted all over it. The controls are minimalistic, the design is minimalistic and the idea is minimalistic. Survive the hellish world that is limbo. This all comes together to make the game incredible simple. It’s a game that you can load up on your respective console and just pick up and play, leaving off exactly where you were when you last played it. This allowed the designers to focus on creating the perfect mood for the game world that you played in. The music is minimal, allowing the moments that it did show up to be absolutely spectacular. Imagine this, the game has been relatively quiet up until this point, apart from the few sounds of bugs in the forest you’re running through. You finally enter an area with some man made machines and suddenly, bursting from seemingly nowhere, a bunch of men start chasing you. You escape them, killing them in the process, finishing off the final guy to a resounding swell of music.
Doesn’t that just sound awesome?
This game has great moments like that throughout. You’ll feel alone, surrounded only by the sound of the world around you– bugs, steam, electrical surges– not much else besides that. This cements the feeling you’ll have of isolation, hopelessness and that urge to find something in the world that doesn’t want to kill you. Any game that makes you feel like you just want to find a friend is a success in mood and atmosphere. Also it helps LIMBO that atmosphere is one of the most important things in good gaming to me, but this game makes that look easy.
2) Fun Puzzles That Will Make You Feel Good to Solve
LIMBO is a puzzle platformer, that’s easy to see. Its puzzles aren’t nearly as complex as some other puzzle platformers out there (ie: Braid or Fez) but that doesn’t detract from LIMBO at all. Yes, someone who has a boner for intricate puzzles that take hours to solve will be able to breeze through LIMBO and call it ‘laughably easy’, but people like that are robots put on this earth to defend against an inevitable alien invasion involving aliens who’s one weakness is complex puzzles. Long story short, people like that have very tough expectations due to their skill set and they should not be trusted.
LIMBO’s puzzles have a bigger emphasis on platformer than puzzle. A lot of them rely on timing than intuitive thinking, but there are a few of them that are actual puzzles. They’ll stump you for a bit, but everything you need to solve it is in the area so after wrapping your head around the situation you’ll come out on top. For the timing puzzles the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel after finally coming on top of a tricky jump that’s stopped your progress will be great. There is one that presented a big challenge for me: it had to do with a giant saw blade and two boxes that I needed to get over aforementioned giant saw blade. It took me a while to figure out what I needed to go, let alone get the timing down to do it, but when I did I felt accomplished.
Obviously, with that, the feeling of accomplishment is a selling point for any game and LIMBO isn’t short-handed on delivering out portions of success to its players.
3) The Art Direction
When a game looks this damn good I can’t help but love it. Y’know those weird super humans that survive off of complex puzzles I mentioned in the last point? Yeah, I’m like that except with art direction. If anything, in any medium, looks cool or has a sense of concrete and compelling art design then you might as well count me as interested. LIMBO pretty much takes everything I love– black and white, contrast, depressing imagery, vast scale– and puts it all in one beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL package. I think someone from Playdead sneaked into my mind as I was sleeping and stole everything that I liked about visuals in a video game. The only way that a game could get more up my alley in terms of art direction is if the entire game looked like a charcoal drawing.
If LIMBO looked like any other game it would look fine, yes, but it wouldn’t be the same game it is today. LIMBO is built around its look and the feeling that it creates. Back to my first point, the atmosphere, these two go hand in hand. The atmosphere wouldn’t be the same without the look and the art direction of it all helps enhance the atmosphere. LIMBO is truly a brilliant little game of art design and imagery wrapped in a pretty little package. It’s not some revolutionary game that will alter the course of gaming forever, but it’s a gorgeous game that is a perfect way to spend 2 to 4 hours. Like I said, it’s worth it, especially on sale. If you aren’t sucked in by what I said, then don’t go buy the game at full price, you’ll be disappointed– but if buy it for cheap or even play it at a friend’s place it is worth your time.
Until the next Video Game Rage.