Thursday, December 8, 2016

Limbo for the PS4

“A shadow leaned over me, whispering, in the darkness,
Thoughts without sound;
Sorrowful thoughts that filled me with helpless wonder
And held me bound.”
-Alfred Noyes

Source: Playstation

Bound with helpless wonder is exactly how I felt playing Limbo on the PS4. Limbo is a puzzle platformer published by Playdead, that originated on the Xbox 360. Limbo is now available across all major gaming platforms. The world of Limbo is crafted in creeping shadows and piercing darkness, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I went into Limbo knowing nothing about the game. In fact, I was looking for another game entirely. It happened across me as I perused the PSN and since it was on sale at the time, I ended up purchasing it out of curiosity. Oh, but I am so glad that I did.

Before we discuss game mechanics and the technical aspects, let’s talk story. While playing Limbo, I had no idea what I was doing, and more importantly I didn’t know why. We play as an unnamed boy, traversing the shadows, and trying to survive in a world that is full of danger.

There was been some debate about the actual meaning behind Limbo’s story. There may be some story spoilers here, so I will try to hide them. If I can code it right, you should be able to click on the spoiler to show it. The most popular theory, and the theory that I ascribe to is that our young protagonist boy is, sadly, dead. I’m not religious but this is about to get a little religious, so I’ll try my best to explain this. Christian Ideologies ascribe to a place called “Limbo.” Limbo is derived from the Latin word limbus, which means edge, and Limbo is considered an outlying area of Hell. You end up in Limbo if you were too good to end up in Hell, but not good enough to get to Heaven. That doesn’t explain why our young boy would be here, does it? Well, Limbo is also the place for unbaptized babies.

Perhaps our young boy was never baptized, and thus he ends up in Limbo. You cannot escape Limbo unless Jesus intervenes directly.

The game and its meaning are open wide to interpretation, and the creator is confirming nothing. Although he has said that some people were close. But I wonder who?

Limbo does an exceptional job of creating a suspenseful, and spooky, atmosphere. The shadows, the music (or lack of), and the subtle sound effects in the background, like flies buzzing, create and immersive experience. I found myself on the edge of my seat through much of the game.

Source: XBox Game Store

Next, let’s talk about game mechanics. The game operates as a side scrolling puzzle platformer. As such, I was happy with the controls. The controls are simple—move, jump, and grab. Many times, you must manage those in quick succession, lest you should be caught by a giant spider, caught in the rising water, or struck by falling objects. The darkness of the game also hides many traps, such as bear traps, so it’s important to move with caution.

Limbo requires some skill in timing, and patience. I died a LOT. And every time you die, you have to watch your poor character be crushed, suffocate, get cut up by saw blades, or watch his broken limbs flail as he crashes to the ground. When you die, you start over from checkpoints, which are frequent, so it’s not quite as frustrating. However, if you can manage to make it through the game without dying, then you can get a special trophy/accomplishment. I have not managed to do it, but good luck to you.
Source: Rely on Horror

The art style only adds to the charm, and eerie atmosphere, of this game. Even though the game is in grey-scale, the details of the environments are something to behold. The darkness against the lighter background creates a dynamic effect. Even small details were given consideration, such as the sway of the grass, the spray of dirt as a giant spider tries to impale you, and the hairs on said spider’s body. Although this game may come off as simple, it’s clear that the creators poured their souls into this game. I have such admiration for their team of artists.

I think I have gushed enough. If it isn’t apparent, I really love this game. Limbo was a surprise to me, and a very pleasant one. I highly recommend that you play it yourself to get the true feel of it, as I cannot do it enough justice. Limbo can currently be found on Steam for 9.99, click here and you'll be taken there. It can also be found on nearly any other major console, so have at it!

Happy Gaming, Friends!

See my Current List of Games to Play: Here!
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