Limbo

Said the spider to the fly

Limbo is a bleak and lonely place; a grainy grey film reel of mistakes and terrible consequences. If this is only limbo, I am officially afraid of hell.

The game is unobtrusive to the point of slyness. I watched the opening forest scene for quite a while before realizing that nothing was going to happen until I made the boy stand up. There would be no narrated introduction, no context whatsoever. The boy was sleeping, I woke him up, and together we now faced a long, hard road through some horrible traps and unfortunate accidents. I felt somewhat responsible for his plight from the very start.

There are few things the player needs to know about silhouette boy. He is simple. He runs and jumps and pushes boxes so he can jump to new places. He is frustratingly complacent about drowning if he falls into a lake.

Actually, silhouette boy takes all of his deaths well. When he gets impaled by spikes, or bonked on the head by a falling log, or ground into hamburger by gigantic gears, he doesn’t make a sound. No screaming or crying or swearing, just steadfast resolve as he follows the player’s stupid plan to his inevitable fate. He fails in some amusing and grotesque fashion, and then he lives once again. No ‘You Suck’ fanfare graphic. No loading screen. No real penalty for death.

You die and it looks cool, or you succeed and feel like a badass, which is an excellent dichotomy of possible outcomes.

The game mechanics are simple and predictable enough that they fade into the background, allowing the strange environments to take center stage. The settings seem to follow some wonky evolutionary path, subtly shifting from primordial forest to Charles Dickens Presents a Steampunk Nightmare to sci-fi lasers and gravity wells.

Along the way, the sensation of loneliness is pervasive to the point where you are happy to run into other silhouette people just so you know that others exist in this place. And then they kill themselves or try to murder the boy with grim determination. Nobody talks to you, ever, and it’s eerie. All of the narrative is wrapped up in the sheer thrill of survival: the close calls, the narrow shaves, scuffling with the predatory spider who refuses to give up.

Limbo consists of puzzle after puzzle and the puzzles are largely minimalist. Here’s a box, there’s a lever, over there is a platform, and somehow these things must fit together so the boy can move on. Because every interactive object is so stark and visible, it’s difficult to miss a solution because of simple oversight. Hidden orbs of light represent the game’s only aside and they are never far away.

Limbo will probably be compared often to Braid, another puzzle-platformer with distinctive art direction and a modern twist on familiar run-and-jump mechanics. But where Braid is verbose in its storytelling, Limbo stays silent. Braid examines time, while Limbo is a study of light and shadow and the shades between.

And, most prominently, Braid is about fleeing from death through convoluted means while Limbo embraces a thousand gory endings. This is what makes Limbo the more re-playable game. It is a stylishly visceral death simulator, a fun and painless exploration of the many hilarious and disturbing ways in which a silhouette boy can fail.

Time to completion: 4-6 hours

Good value? Worthwhile for 1200 Microsoft points, and a steal for anything less.

Approximate # of brutal deaths for silhouette boy: 100

Comments

Every time I see screenshots I'm oddly reminded of the Wii remake of A Boy and his Blob
IMAGE(http://wiimedia.ign.com/wii/image/article/988/988363/a-boy-and-his-blob-20090529050754420_640w.jpg)

Only instead of a "hug" button, there's the cold embrace of death?

It really looks beautiful, I'll have to give this one a go.

Ooooooh, I have to snag this one. It reminds me of the upcoming Wii game, Lost in Shadow.

Thanks for affirming my hunch that this will put me out $15 this weekend. I've really been looking forward to giving this a go since I saw the preview at the Summer of Arcade announcement.

35% in and stuck. Sigh. I suck at platformers.

rabbit wrote:

35% in and stuck. Sigh. I suck at platformers.

I'm 46% in. There were a couple times I got stuck only to hit myself on the forehead for not seeing the solution sooner. (one such time was climbing a rope and thinking I had to jump one direction, when I had to jump the other.) I haven't been stuck for more than about 5 or 6 tries on any particular part.

I really like the games aesthetic. This is a game I could watch someone play through and be perfectly happy. Its nothing short of beautiful.

The narrative of this game reminds me of the narrative in the Left 4 Dead series. You're given a very thin premise, then you make the narrative with your gameplay.

It's probably the best way of telling stories that games have come up with so far.

After an hour or two I'm a little disappointed in this game. I wish the puzzles were more organic. It feels like I just run to the right until I die, which signifies it's time for a puzzle, which seemed to be laid out by someone just waiting for this specific boy to run by. The platforming mechanics are getting on my nerves a bit too. The jumping feels like it was taken right out of LittleBigPlanet.

Though it sounds like it, I don't hate the game. However I'm about a third of the way through and I've had an even mix of frustration and fun.

I want to try it.

I do not want to face those giant spiders.

Shudder.

Do not play if afraid of spiders.

I thought it was great. Finished it in around 3 1/2 hours and I loved *almost* every second. There was this small puzzle that frustrated the hell out of me. But I got over it.

So good.

skeletonframes wrote:
rabbit wrote:

35% in and stuck. Sigh. I suck at platformers.

I'm 46% in. There were a couple times I got stuck only to hit myself on the forehead for not seeing the solution sooner. (one such time was climbing a rope and thinking I had to jump one direction, when I had to jump the other.) I haven't been stuck for more than about 5 or 6 tries on any particular part.

I really like the games aesthetic. This is a game I could watch someone play through and be perfectly happy. Its nothing short of beautiful.

I completely agree. I'm about 67% done and got stuck for the third and longest time. There's a lot of talk about how minimalist the puzzles are, but I find them to be very interesting and clever. This game wraps me in its "mood" and takes me away from reality like few others. This game is a gem, I've loved every minute of it. However, because I love black & white media, minimalist soundtracks and audio, and prefer great animation over high detail, it's as if this game was made for people like me.

spedman wrote:

This game wraps me in its "mood" and takes me away from reality like few others. This game is a gem, I've loved every minute of it. However, because I love black & white media, minimalist soundtracks and audio, and prefer great animation over high detail, it's as if this game was made for people like me.

I played the trial and I have to commend them on achieving their mood through the art and sound. It achieves the feeling of being oppressive even in a scene with little going on.

I started playing this last night. Thus far, I've found the environmental puzzles to be really well thought out. They feel organic and natural. The style is awesome. It really reminds me of Out of this World from my youth.

Is this available for PC?

What did you guys think of the ending?

Spoilered, obviously.

Spoiler:

For me, it was the final bleak gut-punch the game had to deliver. You've been after this girl all game, it seems, one time getting SO CLOSE (until the brain slug turns you away and she is mysteriously gone when you come back). I thought for sure this would be the moment where the silhouette boy exhibited some sort of character, opened his mouth and talked, ANYTHING.

But no. The girl just sort of straightens- she knows that he's there, behind him. And then that's that. Credits roll. It was disappointing... but not disappointing in a bad way, if that makes any sense.

Clemenstation wrote:

What did you guys think of the ending?

Spoilered, obviously.

Spoiler:

For me, it was the final bleak gut-punch the game had to deliver. You've been after this girl all game, it seems, one time getting SO CLOSE (until the brain slug turns you away and she is mysteriously gone when you come back). I thought for sure this would be the moment where the silhouette boy exhibited some sort of character, opened his mouth and talked, ANYTHING.

But no. The girl just sort of straightens- she knows that he's there, behind him. And then that's that. Credits roll. It was disappointing... but not disappointing in a bad way, if that makes any sense.

Spoiler:

That makes total sense, Clemenstation. I felt the exact same way. It was more than competent, something I find exceedingly rare these days, where we have endings that are either a major letdown after an otherwise enjoyable experience, or simply a dud, indifference ahoy.. Which is probably not what an ending is supposed to evoke.

The girl straightening being the very last thing we see was really fitting, I thought.

Trashie wrote:

Do not play if afraid of spiders.

Sigh.

Attention designers: I understand why spiders are such effective videogame enemies. I mean, it's really pretty obvious. But I want to play your otherwise great games, and I can't now. Spider temple in Darksiders, I'm looking at you here too.

Maybe someday.

Do we have a catch-all? I'm not sure how the

Spoiler:

brain slugs

work and am looking for hints

PyromanFO wrote:

Do we have a catch-all? I'm not sure how the

Spoiler:

brain slugs

work and am looking for hints

Spoiler:

When brain slugs attach, they make it so you that you can only walk or run in one direction. HOWEVER, they hate sunlight. When you walk into a sunbeam they fizzle up and force you to walk only the OTHER way.

So most of the brain slug puzzles involve ping-ponging back and forth between the light beams.

And there are some hungry mouth thingies that live on the ceiling and love eating brain slugs, in case you were wondering how to get them off.

You sure do know how to give hints.

Braid always looked neat from a distance, but never seemed like the sort of game I wanted to play. Limbo seems like it is right up my alley. Once I get around to getting one of these new Xbox 360 "S" systems (probably for Christmas), I am all in.

Just finished the game.

Spoiler:

Is it about a boy who tried, but couldn't save his little sister from drowning?

I'm about 40 minutes in and IN LOVE. Very Another World-esque, but more platformy.

I just finished it as well; one four-hour sitting to run through the entire game.

I may attempt to cobble together a more detailed post at some point but, for now, I'll keep my piece relatively short -- it's very good and, if you're a fan of cinematic platformer games, specifically Eric Chahi's work, you will be well at home here. If you somehow don't already own it, go get it immediately.

However, if you're not familiar with the sub-genre and you either aren't very good platform games and/or have a low tolerance for setback punishment and trial-and-error gameplay, stick to the demo. The game, in my opinion, is front-loaded and a great deal of what makes it so remarkable -- amazing visuals, gruesome deaths -- can be gleaned from a playthrough of that demo.

I've gone about 70% of the way and I've had some real laugh-out-loud deaths. Is that wrong? The game is a lot of fun to play and the simplicity of it really makes it that much better. It kind of reminds me of N+ but not as punishing and much prettier. N+ is a game that can just suck me in and before I know it hours have gone by. That's kind of what happened to me while playing Limbo yesterday. I got a bad case of "just a little bit further and I'll stop."

I just started replaying the game again with the gore filter on, just to make sure I wasn't completely insane in my opinions of it...and, while I don't necessarily think it's changed my mind about the mechanical strengths of the game, it's interesting to see what the gore filter changes.

For one, the most evident change behind the gore filter is that it immediately cuts to black whenever a death occurs, leaving only the sound and whatever force feedback would normally come as a part of it. Still pretty effective, just in a different way.

Beyond that, there are a number of changes to props and other things throughout the storyline that are kind of interesting.

Spoiler:

There are a number of very disturbing "deaths" for some of the other kids you find along the way -- you crash through the ground and cause one kid to be hanged, you find another kid dead in a cage next to a crow, and, at one point, even have to leap across the bodies of dead kids to cross a small lake. During the climactic spider chase, one kid even gets angrily skewered by the spider as he starts charging at you.

With the gore filter, all of these things are different:

- The spider doesn't skewer any kid at all when it emerges from the chase.
- The dead bodies floating on the water are chunks of wood.
- The "kid" that gets hung is very clearly a doll of sorts that appears to be sculpted from tires.
- The cage next to the crow is completely empty.
- When you find the "natives" with the blowguns, there's a body on the ground that's been riddled with darts - that body is gone this time around.

EDIT: I originally made this post thinking that these were differences between the 1st and 2nd playthrough, but now I'm thinking that the gore filter (which, like a doofus, I completely forgot about) is probably the bigger factor behind these changes.

Just finished it an loved it.

Spoiler:

I do agree, however, that it is very front-loaded. I could have done with a game about a third longer, the last act being focused more on being chased and encountering other characters like the first third. Overall though, fantastic.

Finished this yesterday. Great atmosphere but really tough in certain parts. But none of the puzzles were complicated like Braid. Good stuff.

OzymandiasAV wrote:

Beyond that, there are a number of changes to props and other things throughout the storyline that are kind of interesting.

Spoiler:

There are a number of very disturbing "deaths" for some of the other kids you find along the way -- you crash through the ground and cause one kid to be hanged, you find another kid dead in a cage next to a crow, and, at one point, even have to leap across the bodies of dead kids to cross a small lake. During the climactic spider chase, one kid even gets angrily skewered by the spider as he starts charging at you.

With the gore filter, all of these things are different:

- The spider doesn't skewer any kid at all when it emerges from the chase.
- The dead bodies floating on the water are chunks of wood.
- The "kid" that gets hung is very clearly a doll of sorts that appears to be sculpted from tires.
- The cage next to the crow is completely empty.
- When you find the "natives" with the blowguns, there's a body on the ground that's been riddled with darts - that body is gone this time around.

EDIT: I originally made this post thinking that these were differences between the 1st and 2nd playthrough, but now I'm thinking that the gore filter (which, like a doofus, I completely forgot about) is probably the bigger factor behind these changes.

Those changes are quite interesting, especially since some of the things that the gore filter removes actually serve as immediate warning that something horrible is just around the corner.

Of course, something horrible is ALWAYS just around the corner...

skeletonframes wrote:

Just finished the game.

Spoiler:

Is it about a boy who tried, but couldn't save his little sister from drowning?

I'd be curious to know why you think that's the case. Is it because

Spoiler:

The final puzzle has you diving into 'water', and then you find her safe and sound afterwards?