I’m running through a field, not really knowing what’s ahead, pursued by a giant spider whose grasp I have once again managed to escape. I need to find my sister. Apparently I have no parents, and my glowing eyes are sometimes the only light I have in the dark. I’m in Limbo, a marvel of a game from Copenhagen-based developer Playdead that immediately draws you in with its stark visuals, clever puzzles and engaging gameplay.
Limbo kicks off this year’s Summer of Arcade (XBox Live’s annual summer promotion of downloadable games), and there couldn’t have been a better title more fitted for it. Similar to last year’s Braid, Limbo’s beautiful visuals and unique concept show off to the world that not all great games need to have great budgets.
The game can be best described as a survival horror puzzle platformer, which is a combination not really seen before. The creepy tone of the visuals are compounded by a “soundtrack” that features no music, but rather simply an unsettling wind mixed with a host of other unknown sounds. At your character’s disposal are only his ability to run, jump and grab things such as levers and boxes. Your mind and reflexes are your greatest weapons, as quick-timing and snap-thinking are what will see you through this dangerous world. The puzzles are clever and difficult, with a smooth difficulty curve, introducing simple concepts in the first couple of puzzles and getting increasingly complex as you continue forward.
The giant spider that pursues you is only one of the many enemies that the small boy comes across through his travels, and almost all of them find new and inventive ways to kill him. The many deaths of this small, seemingly innocent boy (and trust me, there will be many) are violent and sometimes quite gruesome – a stark contrast to the introspective and quiet nature of the rest of the game. This is not a complaint, however, as the frequent deaths always keep things interesting while driving home the serious tone of the game.
The game is quite short, maybe three to four hours for most gamers, but the hidden eggs will keep people busy for a long time. And once you find those, then you can go in search of the super secret eggs (I’m not making this up). Only after attaining the secret super secret eggs will you get the 111% completion and, according to rumor, see the “real” ending of the game. Like last year’s Braid, the ending will keep people talking and debating for a long time to come.
Don’t miss out on one of this year’s most talked about video games. Pay the measly $15 for admission and prepare to be blown away by something you’ve never seen in a video game before.
All photo courtesy of the Limbo game website.