LIMBO
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Hardware: XBOX 360
Format: DOWNLOADABLE
Genre: PUZZLE-PLATFORMING (2D)
Released: JULY 21, 2010
Publisher: MICROSOFT
Developer: PLAYDEAD

By Ismael Söderström / November 18, 2010

Ah, Limbo. It has been called this year's Braid; a masterpiece; perfect, even. Let's have a look-see, shall we?

Limbo is a puzzle-platformer. And I'm going to address the game's biggest problem immediately: both the puzzles and the platforming are completely devoid of any challenge. The former virtually never require more steps than can be counted on one hand — move a box, pull a lever, climb a rope and you're done; that's roughly how most of the puzzles go down — and since the tools needed are always clearly visible and the way in which they are to be used always immediately apparent, the only thing being tested — unless, of course, you're clinically retarded — is whether you possess a pair of eyes and the physical strength needed to move the analogue stick and press A (to jump) and X (to grab). The latter demands extraordinary feats of neither precision nor timing; if you can play through the first level of Super Mario Brothers, you'll breeze through even the hardest of Limbo's platforming parts.

(You will die, however. You might wonder how this is possible when the puzzles are easy and the platforming easier. It's quite simple, really: the developers have implemented a number of trial-and-error challenges; parts in which survival is nigh impossible unless you already know what's ahead. I find this decision very puzzling [So there's your puzzle, lol. —Ed]. The game's checkpoint system ensures that you always reappear mere seconds away from whatever hazard killed you, and the aforementioned challenges are just as easy as — if not easier than — the rest of the game once you know what's coming, so all these trial-and-error parts serve to do is waste your time.)


So if there's no challenge to the game, what is there? Not much. The monochrome graphics look quite nice (apart from, you know, THE LACK OF COLOR in them) — the animations are smooth, and there are some really neat-looking multi-layered backgrounds and depth-of-field effects — and the sound design isn't half bad, but Limbo is by no means the visual or aural masterpiece it's being touted to be, and certainly a far cry from recent cutting-edge 2D efforts such as Vanillaware's Oboro Muramasa [ > ] or Konami's Ubawareta Kokuin [ > ] (both of which, by the way, are running on infinitely inferior hardware than this little "indie sensation").

But I must mention that while there's nothing exceptional about Limbo, there's nothing particularly terrible about it, either. It's not broken, it doesn't waste your time with boring tutorials or needless exposition, and the controls are both sharp and responsive; however, not being bad does not equal being good (something people who declare games like Portal and, yes, Limbo "perfect" don't seem capable of grasping), and I cannot with a good conscience recommend it to anyone but the most devoted puzzle-platformer fan, who makes it his mission to play any and all entries in the genre. If you aren't that person, however, there are far superior games to spend your money, and — more importantly — your time on.


Editor's note: And by the way, to those who think that black and white art design in a videogame is something new, think again.
  

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