Monday, January 23, 2012

Limbo Review

This bleak little number is called Limbo. It is a physics puzzle game and it doesn't have much of a story line. In fact, in game you are told absolutely nothing. You just wake up in a dark shadowy forest and completely left alone. You aren't shown or told how to play and you're not told why you're there. Even when you finish the game you're not told anything about how or why or even what's going on. When I looked up the game itself from it's purchase window in steam, all it says is "Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO." 

Hm. Enlightening?

WTH? Why am I here?!?

This is the start of the game in the forest you wake up in. Eventually you come upon new locales, from...

A factory.

The rooftops of a city seemingly empty of people.

Caves, including a webbed-up spider cave. :O

There's a few others as well, but I'll let you find them on your own. :]

As you can see, the game is incredibly moody graphically, and it's sound is no exception. It has been the most quiet game I've ever played. There's some ambient sound, such as the sound of flies when you're near water and a constant gentle hum reminiscent of an otherworldly place. It's very well done and I wish more games would make their sound effects and music as effective as this game has. It's also very important to listen for sound queues in this game. If you don't, you'll have a lot of trouble in this game.

Limbo gameplay is pretty straightforward and easy; you move left right up and down with your arrow keys. Hold control and you will interact with an object if there is an object to interact with, such as that crate in the picture above. In this case, I'm pulling a box out so I can climb up it to get to that platform. It's not always this simple however, and not all of the solutions are easy. As you get towards the end of the game, many of the physics puzzles you have to solve require good timing as well.

And then there are the tricks and MANY MANY ways for you to die in this game. For example, int his picture there is a bear trap sitting on the ground in front of me, hiding there. Walk into it and it snaps shut and you're done for. Our intrepid little hero can also drown, die from dropping from moderate (not great!) heights, falling on spikes, or any number of other environmental hazards, from electricity to boulders rolling around.

There are also a few actual enemies in this game. In this case there's a spider lurking behind me waiting to strike. There are also some seeming-humans who set traps and throw spears at you as well. And our little boy is so helpless, all he can do is run like hell. There are also some mind-control larva as well, which force you to walk in a certain direction and then will turn you around at certain points. They add a whole 'nother level of difficulty to a given section and can easily kill you if you don't know what they're going  to do.

Tip for the mind control larva: you can't control which direction you walk, but you CAN control the speed or block yourself with walls or boxes. All you gotta do at that point is figure out where you need to be and how to manipulate the larva into getting you there.

Here's an example of an environmental trap. I gotta keep moving to the right, but this tree is blocking my way. You can definitely see that that tree is going to break, but when it falls, it'll fall right on you. So you gotta jump on the branch holding the tree up, then get out of the way of those spiky branches that'll skewer you if you don't jump back super-fast. From there, you commence your journey. :]

The Good: Atmosphere is GREAT, the way they utilize sound and music is simply the best I've seen in a very very long time, puzzles vary from easy to pretty hard, controls are very intuitive, beautiful in it's bleak, depressing little way

The Bad: The complete lack of story and guidance, the boy sometimes responds slowly which is frustrating, the game is basically the same dark place over and over so if you don't like the feel you will hate this game.

Overall: If you like dark games or physics games, you'll love this game and I suggest you buy; this game was MADE for you guys. If you're not one for darker games, pass this one up. Same goes for action types, you won't like this game either. It's pacing is very deliberate and for the most part it won't get the adrenaline rushing, though a few parts will. I'm thinking of you Mr Arthopod.

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