LIMBO / Playdead / PC
 
 
Being an "arty" platformer released after 2008, LIMBO is in the unfortunate position of automatically being compared to Braid. That's not really fair to it, as it's more in the lineage of games like Out Of This World/Another World and Heart of Darkness. Though it's frustrating at points, it gets nowhere near the levels of maddening precision-finickyness that Braid does in its later reaches ... it's also free of pseudo-intellectual Berkleyite hipster pretention, going for more of a Tim Burton type of vibe, just with the gore dialed up to 11.

LIMBO sidesteps the "games as fart" nonsense in all aspects save its art style, but the monochrome tone is well executed and actually comes off as a perfectly acceptable atmosphere-enhancing aesthetic choice. It also sidesteps the other horrid trend in "modern platforming" in recent years; Mario ROM Hack Mentality. There are difficult sequences, and respawn points are peppered about very liberally, but the game is still immensely more reasonable (and less autistic) in its challenge than the whole Meat Boy/VVVVV ilk.

Yet it only gets a 3/5? As many others have noted already, the game shoots its creative load too early, leaving the back half (of only about 5 total hours of gameplay) padded out with a lot of fairly generic "crates and fulcrums" puzzles. The creepy spider who hunts you in the early going, the game's most iconic character, is dispatched within the first half hour, and nothing comparable ever rises to take its place. There's also a mysterious tribe of feral children that set traps and stalk you early on; about halfway through they too stop appearing with no explanation whatsoever. You've already seen the best and most intriguing parts of the game by the end of your first or second play session, and by the end it feels like going through the motions. The game's story is also probably a bit too "minimalist" for its own good, leading to an ending that just feels rather pointless and unsatisfying.

The 15 bucks retail that was being asked for it at release is a bit much, but getting it for a low price through a Humble Bundle or somesuch is worthwhile, if only to experience the first hour of gameplay or so. LIMBO ends up being interesting, and very good in spots, but not great on the whole.
 
 
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