Monday, August 9, 2010


About a month ago I posted that I was intrigued by the new XBOX 360-exlusive Limbo – well I completed it yesterday and was not disappointed. It cost $15 on the XBOX Live Arcade and was about 5 hours of gameplay which extrapolates out to the same you would pay for a new game that offers 20 hours or so of play so that seems about right.

Limbo is a 2D puzzle/platform game made by Playdead - a new independent developer in Denmark. The only introduction they provide to the game is the tag line - "Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters Limbo." You play the boy and Limbo is hell-bent on killing you and generally confounding you with puzzles you must solve to continue searching for your sister.

The gameplay mechanic itself is pretty standard for an old-school platform game - move around with the joystick, hit one button to jump and another button to interact with objects. Simple. But the creative way they implement these controls is very impressive. And the controls were tight - you might miss a jump every so often but it would be because you weren't timing it right rather than sloppy controls. It was also a refreshing change from the multitude of FPS and 3rd person action titles out there.

The unique black and white film-noir silhouette visual style of the game is apparent from the video trailer below.

There is no dialogue, no text boxes, no real background music, just the sounds of the environment that you are in which are very impressive and add to the mysterious ambiance.

The puzzle components include many standard pieces like moving crates around to stand on, diverting water to cause objects to float, etc. but they also have some not-so-common devices like giant magnets, anti-gravity, and flipping the world so that you are playing upside down or sideways. Throw in some electrified surfaces, giant spiders, angry locals that want to kill you, a forest, a giant industrial complex with giant gears and conveyor belts and you pretty much have it. The same basic puzzle elements were used multiple times but in creative new ways each time. So even after you figured out how to solve one puzzle with a giant magnetized surface you had to use it in an entirely different fashion to solve the next one. They did a great job of not letting the puzzles get old. Also, the puzzles were difficult enough that they took you a while to figure out but not so difficult that it became a frustrating pain in the butt to keep trying (I hate those!). Then when you figured it out you said ah of course!

You die a lot in the game. After a few times you start to see the threats coming and can avoid them better, but watching the various interesting ways in which you are mutilated is part of the fun so I didn’t hesitate to leap into the void on several occasions.

Like most puzzle-based games there isn’t much replay value here. So it is a cheap quick hit game then put it away. I am not one of those guys that complains about a game being too short because I like short games too – but I liked this one so much I really could’ve easily enjoyed a few more hours’ worth without getting tired of it. Still, for the $15 cost it was OK. All things considered an excellent game and I will definitely check out Playdead’s next effort. I give it a 9.0.

I also found the following interview that GameReactor did with Mads Wibroe of Playdead if you care to check it out.

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Fallguy40 said...

That looks like a fun game. Any chance it comes to Playstation?

You mentioned the tight controls. If I had to level one criticism against LittleBigPlanet, it's that the jumping is sometimes a little floaty. Once you get used to it, it's no big deal, but it could have been tighter.

MadPlanet said...

I haven't heard about it coming to SN but seems like a lot of "exclusives" become multi-platform these days if you just wait a while so it wouldn't surprise me a few months down the road. Yeah, that was what I was afraid of when I saw the video of the gameplay - floaty jumps - but no it played perfectly.

MadPlanet said... - that was supposed to be "PSN"