Tuesday, July 20, 2010

REVIEW: Limbo for the Xbox 360

Some people just don't get it. Games can certainly hold a quantifiably artistic merit, certainly in some of their more passive aspects of design. Inherently, some people just won't "get" Limbo. Critics, myself included (if I've earned that title), will laude it for its design, visuals, emotional connection, and presentation.

All of those compliments are well deserved. Praise won't go unjustly to Playdead's little platforming, puzzling title. With the lead-off Summer of Arcade responsibilities thrust upon its shoulders, Limbo's review scores will be a blessing. Unfortunately, I don't see the title reaching the well-deserved sales numbers that would define Limbo as the second coming of Braid.

Still, it's deserving of the title, certainly moreso than P.B. Winterbottom. Limbo thrusts the player into its plot, unforgiving in it's puzzles, a complete lack of tutorial, a total vacuous and nightmarish feeling enthralls in soundtrack, visuals, and controls. It's hard not too mention Limbo and without paying regards to its hauntingly sparse atmosphere. Where every game tries to be louder, brighter and give the player a higher score (see Bulletstorm etc.), Limbo relishes its languid and withholding aesthetic.

I could help but feel like the game was chuckling good humoredly at me as I fiddled with puzzles, repeatedly finding the way I was looking at it to be wrong. Instead of taking every chance to mock my ignorance, Limbo would produce a solution almost on its own. At least, that's how effortless it would seem. Not since Tetris has a learning curve been so smooth.

Needless to say, its easy to fall for Limbo's devious simplicity. Successes feel extremely high, while lows never push the player to walk away from the game, much less do any frustration fueled controller tossing. Still, I would ask for a bit more. The ending comes as a surprise, not necessarily in terms of plot, but in that I wanted to solve more puzzles and traverse more land.

That's truthfully the biggest complaint I have about Limbo. Oftentimes, it's best to leave us hanging on, barely satisfied in what we've had, satiating to further the experience. Limbo surely does leave me wanting more.


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