Written by Game On AUS community member – Adam “Bruce L33t” Lamotte!
With the pay-to-win controversy just fading out of memory, it was a nice reminder of what a game could be when the player’s experience was at the forefront of the developers’ minds.
It’s a rare event to be left feeling empty and directionless after finishing a game. It’s a rolling “What should I do with my life now” feeling. It’s a similar feeling when you finish a great T.V series as it takes a while to move on. Limbo is also a duality of haunting and dark game-play, that also draws you in to find out what the deeper meaning is behind the game. I think the meaning of Limbo is also key here, Limbo is a Latin word (Lat., “limbus”, boundary or edge, as in edge of Hell). It’s a place where you are not quite in heaven and not quite in hell. Limbo came about because the folk in the middle ages wanted to know what happened to un-baptised children and grown-ups after they died. If they were good and pious people, the question that was put to the Roman Catholic Church was; “Where did they go?” They went into LIMBO.
Limbo is a side-scrolling, dark-themed, easy-to-play but hard-to-complete puzzle-styled game. The game’s movement mechanics are basic: forward, back, up, down, jump and an also a key to hold and move things. The developers called progressing through the game “Trial and Death”. Meaning, you die, a lot. You keep dying until you figure out how to get past certain sections. It’s obvious I know, but it gets a lot harder as you progress. There are no difficulty settings as well. So you can’t knock the difficulty down a level and get through certain bits. You have to grind it out.
The game begins when you wake up in a dark forest. Nothing feels familiar, and it has a foreboding quality. The way his eyes light up and the way he moves gives you the impression he’s too innocent to be here. Something else that has also been captured is the fragility of what it is to be a kid. You use smarts and leverage to get past the obstacles. Strength (apart from willpower) isn’t employed. Leverage seems to be the key element throughout the game.
As you’re running through the levels, you’ll come across: bear traps, giant spiders, other kids who try to kill you in a lot of devious ways, water-based obstacles, boulders and flaming tyres! A lot of the traps are also sequenced-based, so you start one and then you’ll need to complete another bunch of tasks before you get past it. It’s brutal and engaging. You might find yourself asking “Are you serious, I have to do that!” or “How the hell do I get past this!”. I also didn’t want to leave this game until it had been finished. Yes I stayed up well past the time I should have gone to bed and it was worth it.
There is a small disconnect around about halfway through the game. You’ll move from the forest containing spiders and kids hurling things at you into a city and factory scape. Through this, the game loses a little bit of its draw but the end is more than worth it.
One thing that I’ve struggle to quantify is the story and the main reason for this is because there isn’t a story. There’s no background, no initiation at the start and the ending, well I’ll let you find that out what happens. But, it prompts more questions. The game is distressing, full of hope, it makes your breath quicken from anxiety, soar with triumph and expel breath in frustration. The story isn’t needed because you feel the game the whole way through. It allows you to get back in touch innocence and curiosity, while in a dark world.
I implore you to play this game. You will be surprised by its innocuous beauty.
You can follow Adam here: