In Limbo

Posted by RenegadeSaint (1553 posts) -

I can't decide how I feel right now. I accomplished one of my weekend goals and finished Limbo last night. The problem is, I just can't come to terms with how it all turned out. I feel like I just read through a tale of two games. The first half is an intriguing adventure puzzler with some interesting scares and beautiful art style. The second half turns into an action platformer with awkward controls. So what happened?

Sometimes dark and disturbing...

In the recent Dead Island QL, Brad and Patrick were talking about how some designers seem completely unaware of what makes their game great. Nowhere is this truer than in Limbo. For me, this game is all about atmosphere, not action. When the game began I felt cold, alone, and confused. There was no direction and no hope, not even a splash of color to lift the player from the depths. If that one sentence is your introduction to the game, you would be forgiven for thinking it a terrible experience. But it's not; terror can be the most engaging and immersive facet of humanity. I really like the idea that I can be transported somewhere by a lack of stimulus as opposed to a picture perfect recreation of some fantastical place.

...yet always beautiful.

The gameplay begins along that same less-is-more ideology with only two action buttons. Trial and error is the name of the game, but that is to be expected. Just as in our world, the darkness permeates dangerous places and one false step means an early grave. Puzzles abound and the solutions are not always governed by the limitations we encounter on a daily basis. That being said, the abstract is never far from the logical and reason prevails with enough effort. If the game continued this way, it would be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse about halfway through with too much jumping, pushing, pulling, and timing-based action. It's not that the game becomes overly hard (it never does), instead, it just becomes less fun. When the boy is being dismembered by a spinning saw blade repeatedly, the fear of death that had once been overwhelming becomes absent. The tension is gone.

I pushed through and finished the game, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. As excited as I am for the developers' next project, I can't help thinking of what could have been. Limbo remains an interesting game and has a fantastic first half, but beware the tonal downshift that comes with victory.

#1 Posted by RenegadeSaint (1553 posts) -

I can't decide how I feel right now. I accomplished one of my weekend goals and finished Limbo last night. The problem is, I just can't come to terms with how it all turned out. I feel like I just read through a tale of two games. The first half is an intriguing adventure puzzler with some interesting scares and beautiful art style. The second half turns into an action platformer with awkward controls. So what happened?

Sometimes dark and disturbing...

In the recent Dead Island QL, Brad and Patrick were talking about how some designers seem completely unaware of what makes their game great. Nowhere is this truer than in Limbo. For me, this game is all about atmosphere, not action. When the game began I felt cold, alone, and confused. There was no direction and no hope, not even a splash of color to lift the player from the depths. If that one sentence is your introduction to the game, you would be forgiven for thinking it a terrible experience. But it's not; terror can be the most engaging and immersive facet of humanity. I really like the idea that I can be transported somewhere by a lack of stimulus as opposed to a picture perfect recreation of some fantastical place.

...yet always beautiful.

The gameplay begins along that same less-is-more ideology with only two action buttons. Trial and error is the name of the game, but that is to be expected. Just as in our world, the darkness permeates dangerous places and one false step means an early grave. Puzzles abound and the solutions are not always governed by the limitations we encounter on a daily basis. That being said, the abstract is never far from the logical and reason prevails with enough effort. If the game continued this way, it would be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse about halfway through with too much jumping, pushing, pulling, and timing-based action. It's not that the game becomes overly hard (it never does), instead, it just becomes less fun. When the boy is being dismembered by a spinning saw blade repeatedly, the fear of death that had once been overwhelming becomes absent. The tension is gone.

I pushed through and finished the game, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. As excited as I am for the developers' next project, I can't help thinking of what could have been. Limbo remains an interesting game and has a fantastic first half, but beware the tonal downshift that comes with victory.

#2 Posted by Morningstar (2192 posts) -

Couldnt agree more, first half is fantastic and the second half is just underwhelming.

Online
#3 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

Limbo's problem is that it's charm can fade quite quickly. I just think the game drags on for too long. It works more from a cinematic point of view, than from a gaming point of view.

#4 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (930 posts) -

While the increased ratio of dying in the second half soured my initial feel of the game, I found the second half to make the game so much better the second time I played it.

When you are familiar with the game, and know what to do it turns into this melancholy thing that slowly builds up to a frantic run for survival. It builds up and up like a crescendo, to explode into the subdued and oddly sweet and/or depressing ending. That was a very stupid and wordy way to say that I like how the flow of the game is when you know the levels.

This doesn't help with the fact that the game does present itself a bit less favorable in the second half when you play the game for the first time though.

#5 Posted by RenegadeSaint (1553 posts) -

@MikeGosot: I think you've succinctly summarized my entire blog post.

@Durandir: I see where you're coming from, but I don't know if I want that in the game. I really enjoyed the desolation and slow pace of the first few acts. There is something to be said for combining different themes and playstyles within one world, but I just found myself yearning for the gameplay that introduced me to Limbo. Perhaps a second playthrough would change my mind, but I just don't see it happening any time soon. It is, however, nice to hear a dissenting opinion from someone who spent a little more time with the game than I.

#6 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4690 posts) -

I felt the exact same way about Limbo.

#7 Posted by BisonHero (6674 posts) -

Yeah, the game becomes less engaging as soon as you enter the city, and stop seeing anymore NPCs (live or dead), and instead have nothing but various mechanical puzzles to deal with.

The mood of the game was much more effective when you were out in the wilderness, alone, and at the mercy of giant spiders/animal traps/murderous gang of kids. Once you get to the city and the industrial area, all of the electricity/sawblade deaths get boring very quickly.

#8 Posted by RenegadeSaint (1553 posts) -

@BisonHero: I couldn't agree more. It's a real shame, but it really makes me appreciate the first half for what it accomplishes.

#9 Posted by VoshiNova (1698 posts) -

@MikeGosot said:

Limbo's problem is that it's charm can fade quite quickly. I just think the game drags on for too long. It works more from a cinematic point of view, than from a gaming point of view.

Agree Completely

#10 Posted by Timothie (18 posts) -

I actually just loved the game. The art was just simply amazingly charming. The game made me laugh a few times, but also freaked me out of some points. But I think Limbo is one of the more cool games I've ever played.

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