Impressions on Limbo

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.

2 thoughts on “Impressions on Limbo

  1. Ryan B August 25, 2010 / 9:52 AM

    This game looks really fantastic. I agree with you that games which teach you how to do something by killing you have no place in my everyday life. I see these types of games like art films. A lot of art films get made but only a handful of them ever warrant any acclaim for establishing a real connection and doing/saying something that makes sense to a broad audience in an innovative way. That’s an assload of things to have to do right in order to be a successful innovator but the more out of the box games indie games that get made, the closer we are to having something really special.

    also have you seen this? apparently all you need to make indie art games is LBP2

  2. Jett August 25, 2010 / 11:04 PM

    Well put, Ryan. I think the time is right for indie games to shine. The technology is there for indie game makers to create, distribute and promote their games to a large audience, whether that’s through XBOX Live, PSN, Steam or any other download method. Limbo sold over 250,000 copies, which must be well above anyone’s expectations.

    Little Big Planet 2 looks to have a lot of potential for those looking for a video game making starter kit. While Wario Ware: Do-It-Yourself executes the idea very differently, that was very cool as a make your own game tool, too.

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