Summer 2010 bore witness to a little-known title at the time known as Limbo, which acted as the headliner for XBLA’ s Summer Arcade line-up. At the time it received critical acclaim for both its simplicity and unique visual charm. It was only a matter of time until the game was ported to PSN. This week, this finally became reality, and so it is time to see if the game translated itself as well to a different console.
NEW SYSTEM, SAME GOOD EXPERIENCE
Stark Black and White Visuals - Playdead’s decision to use black and white visuals in this puzzle/side scrolling adventure works effectively well, given the simplicity of the experience. Players assume the role of a young boy who wakes up on the ground with no explanation as why he was there or why he would be tasked with overcoming many hazardous obstacles. The visuals provide a contrast to the naiveté of the boy with the increasingly difficult world he inhabits. It is a world with menacing spiders and taunting boys who initiate further obstacles such as burning wheels. The white background highlights the black surroundings very effectively and focuses the player’s attention at the current puzzle at hand.
Rock Solid Gameplay -The difficulty of the game’s various puzzles is offset by easy to use controls. For example, X jumps and square is used to interact with objects such as blocks that can be moved. The simple controls are especially handy when the game’s challenge increases near the end with the effects of gravity also coming into play. Outside of the controls, the puzzles themselves possess a certain charm as any small mistake will result in a gruesome death for the young boy. Whether it is a spider that chases you, or an insect that can be used to reach the next area, the puzzles themselves interact with the player instead of the other way around, which provides an interesting take on an otherwise well-established side-scrolling formula.
Lack of Music Surprisingly Works - In other games; a lack of music would pose a problem. However, in Limbo the lack of any noticeable music works in the game's favor as it gives way to the underlying tension that exists throughout. Any single misstep can easily result in death in Limbo, and the gruesome nature of any one death, whether it be beheading or being incapacitated, is at the forefront because there is no distracting music playing. However, that does not mean there is no audio altogether. Without music, the sound effects come to play a very important role such as an insect’s buzzing which clues the player in that it is vital to solving the puzzle.
Limbo is one of those games that takes you by surprise and in doing so, managed to rack up awards en route to its success on other platforms. The PSN port is essentially a carbon copy of the XBOX 360 version. If do not own an XBOX 360, Limbo is a very mesmerizing game that will keep you hooked with its visuals and minimalist approach to gameplay and music. While the story may not be up to par, the rest of the package certainly is. Being on sale on PSN for the time being makes it that much more accessible to a different audience.
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