Thoughts of high quality Indie titles on XBLA will generate mainly images with a 2D perspective. They could be puzzle, action, platformers, or beat em ups but they were always 2D. Except they’ve never shared the same aesthetic, all of them were unique. Braid was a moving portrait, Castle Crashers was a playable cartoon, and Fez was my vision of pixelated heaven. All of these games have been checked off my hit list, except LIMBO. LIMBO has sat patiently on my steam account waiting to be played and only recently have I mustered the courage to beat the dark, depressing, puzzle platformer.
It’s not often I come to grips with my fears. This is due to the fact that I’m not scared of anything specifically but I will get greatly uncomfortable when confronted with, let’s say a big ass spider. This is the reason I don’t play horror games, they present scary things to you so you develop that fear. Treading around in a bleak monochrome atmosphere filled with hazards was a new experience compared to my usual 2D fighting game habits. The lack of definition in objects, backgrounds, and control lead to the feeling of dis-empowement to the point of disability during the first few minutes.
It wasn’t until I came across the spider when I came to a personal cross road. Do I venture forth into the presumed danger and prod the spider to see where I can continue? Or shall I give up/ look online to see if it’s safe? A younger self would have bolted for the latter option, choosing the sanctity of ignorance or comfort of existing knowledge before treading. It was a surprise that I decided to continue and chose the former leading to another timely death. I chose to continue with a game that made me feel uncomfortable, something I never through I would have done previously. Fortunately, the violent acts committed to the avatar dulled my senses as I continued and by the end of the game he was more of a trial and error puppet rather than digital manifestation.
Aside from influencing personal growth and goth noir imagery, LIMBO is a really strong game. Simple game controls, excellent game design, interpretive visual plot, and superb puzzles. The puzzles are easily my favourite part of the game, aside from the puzzles that rely on timed jumps rather than cerebral plotting. The game didn’t overstay it’s welcome being only a few hours long but keeps the player engaged at all times with the constantly moving scenery and brilliant set pieces.
You will die a lot in LIMBO, but each death will make you glad you’re still alive.