There seems to be a lot of artsy/high-concept games hitting of late. Games like Braid, Flower, Echochrome and P.B. Winterbottom have really pushed the boundaries of what a game can look and play like. I have nothing but respect for those developers who are actively trying to move the medium forward. However, none of these games have personally appealed to me. I’d much rather watch these games for a few minutes than actually play them, mostly because the gameplay elements don’t appeal to me.
Limbo was just released on XBOX Live Arcade and is the latest in artsy-high concept games. The black-and-white aesthetic is amazing and is matched by equally awesome atmospheric sound. But will it turn me away with gameplay that doesn’t appeal to me? I tried the demo and I’m here to relay my thoughts to you.
I could go on-and-on about the game’s presentation. I’m in love with how the game looks and how it sounds. The black-and-white look is eerily beautiful. What a lot of people might overlook is the sound design. Holy cow. The game features no music, but is powered by excellent atmospheric sound. I got chills when my character first put his head under water and the sound changed to sound like I was under water.
As for how it plays, the game throws you into the world with no instruction or heads-up-display. You, as a boy, wake up in a forest. From there, you’re on your own. The game plays like a puzzle platformer, requiring you to use your brain to overcome obstacles. Here’s where the game gets dicey to me. I really hate trial-and-error games, where the game doesn’t make it clear to you how to overcome a certain obstacle until you fail at it. This game was designed from the ground up to kill you a lot. To me, it feels really cheap. In many cases, there’s no way you would know what you were getting into until it’s too late, which will cause you to die every time you move 15 feet in the world.
I would love to see more of this game, but I would almost rather sit down and watch someone else play through the game rather than play it myself. Much respect to the team at PlayDead for going for the gusto with Limbo, but it’s just not for me. At the very least, I would recommend you grab the demo on XBOX Live Marketplace and try it out.