Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dark, darker, darkest

First things first, Limbo is not the greatest game I have ever played. It is not even the best game I have played this year. It is still very, very good; it's length is not a hindrance (though I was not able to knock it out in one night as planned), it is not frightening so much as it is moody and depressing, and it controls better in a platforming sense than Braid ever did. The puzzles are cleverly designed, organic in nature, and I have yet to run into one that took more than a few minutes of head scratching to solve. Many of them are physics based, forcing you to think about problems in a very real sense. I imagine they are the same variety of puzzles that Trine offered. There's another game that I played the demo of and should have kept going with until it was done. Limbo is definitely enjoyable, better than Braid in my opinion, and is a game that I can actually see running through again just to show someone else what it looks like. Of course I would not warn them about the big ass spider and what happens if you simply walk up to it and say hello. Parts of Limbo are the the screamer web sites that stopped being scary years ago, but they actually work.

Most of the developers time and effort, it seems, went into the visuals. Take Heart of Darkness, add in a healthy dose of Out of this World, toss in E. Elias Merhige's Begotten for the icky, creepy, nearly unwatchable factor (note: don't actually watch this movie) and this is what would come out. It is surprisingly graphic for a two toned, teen rated game, as the child protagonist meets with all sorts of unpleasant and messy ends. My favorite is being crushed by giant stone traps: as the trap resets what is left of the child is stretched out like pulled taffy, only to snap upward and ooze back down as gravity takes over. These are deaths worth seeing, and they better be because they come quite often. Limbo is definitely a learn by dying game, so it is a good thing that there are no lives to lose and the checkpoint system in generous with its resurrection placement. Sometimes getting things to all line up correctly at the right time is more luck than planning which is definitely frustrating, but that does not happen too often. The difficulty curve is slow but steady, so I know that the last quarter of the game may take just as long to get through as the first three quarters. I am prepared for this, and have a few beers to grease the attempts.

I am not going to get into the 'is this worth the money' argument. It is pointless and completely subjective. Putting a dollar amount on entertainment is equally worthless. The real test is to ask yourself two things: Did I enjoy it? and Do I feel ripped off? I have completely enjoyed what I have played so far, and I cannot imagine that the last little bit is going to change my mind, and I certainly do not feel like I have been held hostage for my liesure time. So I do recommend it as a foreboding diversion from whatever else you are playing. Take a day or two and disappear into the nightmares of a small child, it was not as easy being that age as you remember.

Even without giant spiders and bear traps big enough to take off your head.

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