Tower defense. It almost seems like the indie and downloadable game market is flooded with games like this, doesn’t it? They’re simple to make, allow for creativity. So what happens when a large developer gives the genre a go? Pure magic. This is Double Fine’s latest downloadable adventure, the third in four proposed downloadable titles. In my opinion, so far, it’s the best.
Platform: PC (Windows XP and above)
I’m setting myself a challenge with this review. You won’t know what it is until the end, but here goes. This is a review of Herofy, a match-three puzzler with a couple of relatively original mechanics thrown in, to help it stand out from the endless ocean of similar titles (Challenge status: So far, so good).
For my inaugural post on the blog, I figured I’d try something on the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace. Upon going to the newest titles, I picked the first one to jump out at me. That title happened to be Duckinator.
In which the fantastical history of
a Seventeenth Century Martian Colony
as told in the language of SHUMP
It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a review for this blog, but I think that this little gem deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting so I’m dusting off the keyboard again.
So, Microbot. As you might have guessed, it’s about very small robots. Some unlucky soul has been infested by microscopic robots gone rogue and it’s your job as the Microbot to clean house. Let’s put aside the fact that turning small and mucking about in someone’s body has been covered by just about every fictional angle by now, because Microbot isn’t about the plot. At all. It just about dispenses with any pretense of plot by the second level.
Microbot is an overhead shooter where the left stick controls movement and the right stick weapons, much like Geometry Wars (but the similarities end at the controls). Your robot is essentially a core unit that you attach various appendages to at set points. The appendages are what serve as your weaponry, defense, and propulsion. There are also special weapons that can be set inside the core unit, such as a harpoon gun or hydro bomb. As you progress through the game, you unlock more parts for your robot by cannibalizing your enemies and evolve the core itself until you eventually can attach up to seven parts at once. Once unlocked, each part can also be upgraded up to three times by collecting Atoms (tiny glowing bits that also heal you).
Customizing your Microbot was pretty much the highlight of the game for me. It’s obviously designed to encourage experimentation, for example you can finish stages with only propulsion units attached (there’s even a trophy for doing so). I actually just blazed though a few stages with only a hydro jet for movement and six electrical defense pods (think the electrical towers in tower defense games). But it was absolute rubbish for bosses.
Your Inner Fluid
One thing Microbot does very well is create a convincing fluidic environment. I really felt like I was cruising around through this crazy organic underwater world. A key part of the game is being able to navigate the currents and adapt your strategy to your current weapons and propulsion. For example, if you are using rotors, you turn a bit slower and have a bit less speed, but can reverse without turning around, very useful if you have microlasers installed. There are also cool little additions like fat deposits you can get stuck in, and valves (both mechanical and organic) that introduce rogue currents unexpectedly.
It’s also quite impressive graphically, at least in terms of the organic. Very pretty visuals that reminded me a little of the PSN game Flow. But as you near the end of the game, the environment gets much more robotic and less interesting, kind of like you are playing one of those shmups where you have to blow up a space station…but underwater.
As for the music, it’s mostly soothing ambient tracks and the occasional sped up robotic beat during tense battles or boss fights. It fits the game very well, and again, the ambient stuff reminds me a bit of Flow.
Microbot is about as long as you’d think for a 10 dollar game. There are 5 stages, each divided into 4 parts and with a general theme (stage 1 is the circulatory system, stage 2 respiratory, etc…). I think I’ve spent about 5-6 hours in total, and that’s counting trying to get all the trophies. One cool feature is that every level of the game is generated dynamically, and the enemies are also generated randomly according to how far you’ve progressed in the game. So basically, you can replay a stage at any time, and it will be different…up to a certain point. And the boss levels will always be the same.
There is also a hidden “buckyball” in each level to search for, and a challenge mode with leaderboards. Challenge mode gives you only one chance to set your loadout, and you keep playing until you die. And there is a drop-in multiplayer, but unfortunately it’s only off-line.
I found Microbot to be an extremely enjoyable little game that scratched my mindless shooter/customization game itches almost perfectly. It’s difficulty also hit that sweet spot with me: there were no points of frustration and it has very forgiving checkpoints, but it didn’t feel like a cakewalk either. I’d recommend it at it’s current price of $9.99 on the PSN or XBL. Both versions also have a fairly long demo mode available.
[I purchased the PS3 version of Microbot on the PSN for $10. About 6 hours were spent playing it in total, and I finished the main game and achieved 90% of the trophies]
posted 1/12 by Turnip
Posted 9/26 by Turnip
Note: This is a review of the version available on Steam
Link to my impressions of the demo.
Ah, the humble item shop owner. Truly, the under appreciated backbone of any RPG. Where would any dungeon spelunker be without a place to sell their booties and equip themselves? Just like commerce followed the American gold rush, capitalism will always follow the virtual treasure hunter.
The ability to actually PLAY as one of the shopkeeps was not something approached by most game makers until the advent of MMOs. Now you can’t go into any kind of virtual town square without being assaulted by throngs of actual people aggressively spamming their sales pitches on screen. The MMO Ragnarok Online immediately comes to mind, where one of the classes you can play as is a merchant. Their special powers include getting a discount on goods and being able to wheel around a cart that let you set up a shop anywhere you want. I didn’t really spend enough time with Ragnarok to fully explore the merchant, but I had fun figuring out the most random places I could open a virtual potion stand.
Which brings us to Recettear. It’s a single player RPG that follows the adventures in capitalism of bubbleheaded shopkeeper Recette and her tiny partner/fairy loan shark Tear. Recette’s father died either jumping into a volcano or in the the lower intestine of a dragon (it’s a little unclear) owing a massive amount of money to the Fairy bank. She has to pay off all the money in a month or everything will be repossessed and she’ll be living in a carboard box (quite literally, as the game over screen will reveal). Tear, the repo-fairy, feels sorry for her and decides to teach Recette how to turn her house into an item store and make back the money.
Groundhog day, Ho!
Gameplay in Recettear could be divided into three categories: time management, dungeon crawling, and shopkeeping. Time management is simply what the name implies; you have a limited amount of time each day to either open shop, go into town, or dive into dungeons. It’s up to you to decide the schedule to keep that will maximize your profits. Because the due date on your massive loan payments is a lot closer than you think.
This is my main issue with Recettear, because as it turns out, the game only takes place over a single month. Each week, the amount of money you owe gets bigger and bigger until it becomes an intimidating $500,000. If you are the capitalism Zen master I suppose it’s possible to make this much. Personally I found myself near the endgame, almost broke after my last loan payment, and looking at the 500 k due next week while scratching my head in confusion. WTF, Recettear?
But guess what? As is somewhat common in Japanese role playing games, there is an unexplained hole in time and space that lets you replay the game with all your experience and items if you happen to lose. Game Over is actually expected and part of the game. Who knew there would be a link between Recettear and Dead Rising? I’m familiar with this style of RPG and not sure how I feel about it. On one hand it’s a bit tedious to go through the same sequence of events over and over. On the other, the game designers obviously recognized this and give you the option to either speed up or skip any cutscene or dialog in the game.
I guess in the end I wish Recettear took place along a sequence of several months, maybe even a year, instead of the continual replaying of the same month. I don’t think it’s a question of enough content because the game is absolutely full of stuff (cut scenes, events, hidden characters, dungeons), a lot of which you only discover after a few playthroughs.
Dungeon diving for fun and profit
Besides buying items wholesale from the guild or market, there’s also the option of cutting out the middleman and hunting for that treasure yourself. Well not exactly yourself, Recette and Tear are more middlemen than adventurers. What happens is you hire a local hero, equip them, and send them into the local dungeons to die for your profit. Once you are in the dungeon you take control of the hero directly, with Recette and Tear following behind in some kind of protective RPG bubble, occasionally whining some high pitched Japanese phrase.
There are 8 possible heroes to choose from (unless I missed a hidden one!) that are unlocked by making nice with them enough so they give you one of their business cards. The unlocking process usually involves events or battles in the dungeons, random events in town, and successfully selling them things in your store. The first hero, Louie, is dirt poor and kind of stupid so he’ll join you right away.
The dungeons themselves are an action/rpg affair that reminds me a little of the dungeon crawling in the Rune Factory games. However it has some elements of a Roguelike in that all the levels and treasures are randomly generated, and you can only escape every 5 levels after beating a boss. But really, it’s all about the items, and thats what you have to concentrate on. You can only hold 25 items total at first, and that includes swapped equipment and healing items for your hero. When you take into account that you’re collecting monster parts (for fusion into equipment later) as well as treasures it becomes a real balancing act of what you have to bring with you.
I enjoyed the dungeon parts of this game: they aren’t exceptionally deep, but at the same time I was surprised at all the little touches. Flanking and backstabbing does extra damage. Later levels have random special events, like “everyone on this floor does twice the damage.” All of the heroes have unique playstyles and special attacks that unlock as you level them up. My favorite is the thief Charme, who is the only character capable of bursts of speed, has fast attacks, and can make an insane number of clones of herself that can’t be hurt and attack for half her damage. I also liked the boss battles, especially the ones that require a little puzzle solving to finish. For example the Giant Rat who is almost invulnerable but loves to gorge on mushrooms. If you kill all the non-poisonous shrooms in the room, he’ll make himself sick and you can attack.
Shopkeeping for dummies
And now we come to the meat of Recettear, the keeping of shop. On the surface it seems simple, but as you peel back the layers there’s actually a lot going on. And then more layers reveal themselves. Even with all the tutorials, and they are somewhat lengthy, I found myself having those, “OK, WTF is going on here?” moments fairly frequently.
To start, everything you want to sell you have to physically put on a counter space in your store. Spaces near the window are “display items” and people are more likely to buy them. Open the doors and JRPG type people wander in. Successfully sell them an item and you get “merchant level” experience and of course, profit. Haggling is also part of this process, but if you sell them something without haggling, you get more experience. Offer an item in that mystery sweet spot of their perfect price and you get even more exp. Keep getting those non haggle sales, and you rack up combo bonuses and gain exp even faster. Considering there are 50 merchant levels and you level up very slowly (I finished the game at about 15) you’ll need those bonuses.
So you’ll have to decide between haggling and more profit or getting exp. Also take into consideration that each type of shopper have their own invisible “levels”, and the happier you make them with good deals, the more they’ll be able to spend later. And this is just the tip of our capitalist iceberg.
As you progress in the game and gain levels, people will also start to sell you their stuff. So you become a bit of a pawn shop. And, most importantly, you will start getting news of the worlds economy shifting. For example, swords will become more expensive, and all of sudden, you can sell any sword for like 320% of what it’s worth. That’s right, 300%! And they’ll thank you for it! I also noticed you can crash the market for any item if you keep selling it relentlessly at inflated prices, which I thought was cool.
In fact, when the economy comes into play, it becomes fairly obvious how you can make that $500,000 in one week, and the games difficulty completely plateaus. Spending time in the dungeons becomes unnecessary, actually even a waste of time. Just wait for an items price to rise, buy as much as you can at the guild, and sell sell sell. Recette will be sleeping in a blanket made of 50 dollar bills in no time. And laughing. Oh, that haunting laughter.
Actually it’s kind of unfortunate the economy is so powerful in this game, just because it trumps almost every other factor. But how else are you supposed to make all that green so fast? Maybe a bit more balancing could have been done.
Besides becoming a pawn shop and the economy news many other options are unlocked as you play further, some of them obvious, some obscure. You can set the “atmosphere” of your store by decorating and other mysterious factors, which determine what kind of customer you get (I’m not exactly sure how this works. I tried to set an atmosphere that would repel the extremely annoying and tight fisted little girls, but they are like cockroaches). You can buy and set up vending machines that automatically sell your items at their set price. Customers will start to request items to pick up later. Your adventurers will wander into the store, and if you sell them something they can use, it will be equipped next time you use them (and not take up a precious item slot). And so on. Half the fun is unlocking and playing around with all the new features and abilities. Which leads us to the …
Post Game Capitalism
Once you finish the game a number of new modes are unlocked. First of all, there is endless mode, which is basically just continuing the game with no deadlines. There are two new dungeons to explore post game as well as two adventurers to unlock. Then there is the New Game +, much like when you start the game again after a Game Over, you reset with all your levels and items. Why would you want to do this? Every time you finish the game, whatever hero you used the most will give you their special business card, which lets you immediately use them in any new game. Last of all there is Survival Mode, which gives you more and more insane payments due every week until you can’t make one. I’ve been enjoying the endless mode, the post game dungeon “Obsidian Tower” in particular. A surprising number of enemies aren’t recycled (for a post game dungeon), the difficulty is challenging, and it’s 50 levels high.
I’d also like to say a few words about the translation team Carpe Fulgur before I wrap this up. Not only did they discover and market this game themselves, but the translation is fantastic and imaginative. As an added bonus, I can’t recall a single meme in any of the text, which is a definite plus. If anyone’s interested here is a link to a short interview with them about Recettear in Gamastura.
I had a few problems with Recettear: the very short game span balanced by a new game + system didn’t feel quite right to me, and the economy comes close to breaking the game. But overall it’s a fun game with original and well conceptualized ideas. I was also pleasantly surprised to find the game supports gamepads (I used an Xbox 360 one). I’d recommend it to anyone fond of the JRPG genre, or RPGs in general depending on their tolerance for anime. The price is currently $20, which I consider to be just about right for the quality and amount of content you are getting here.
[I paid $18 for this on Steam (there was a pre-order discount). The Steam monitoring thingy says I played it for 23 hours total. I've finished the game once, almost explored the whole Obsidian tower, and unlocked 5 of 8 hero characters. Cheap little girls remain my mortal enemy and the one power I want is the ability to ban them from my store for all time.]
When the idea of DLC came about, I immediately thought of big expansion packs that could be downloadable, maybe a bit smaller. Since then, I’ve been proven that DLC is 7$ for two hours on rather unrelated content, with few exceptions. Bioware took this idea, took it to the back of the house, and shot it in the head. Lair of the Shadow Broker is the best piece of DLC that Bioware has ever put out, period. This is irrifutable, you cannot argue with this.
Let’s back up for a second. Lair of the Shadow Broker features two characters that were introduced in Mass Effect 1. Liara and the Shadow Broker. Liara was one of your party memebers, a biotic user and the daughter of one of the villains in the game. The Shadow Broker, though never seen, was this omnipresent information broker that you interrupted a few times. Well, he never had that big part of the story, until now. In junction with Mass Effect Redemption, the comic book prequel to Mass Effect 2, Liara went to Omega in search for Shepard’s body. Shit goes down, and Liara ends up wanting revenge against the Shadow Broker (you can read the comics yourself). Lair of the Shadow Broker allows you to help Liara finally get her revenge.
And boy do you get it. LotSB is the hardest DLC for Mass Effect 2 yet. It’s about three or four hours long, and consists of you doing detective work, a car chase around illium, infiltrating a base, and fighting the two coolest boss fights in the whole Mass Effect series so far. I won’t go spoiling it, but they’re incredibly fun and really challenging. The story is top notch, and those who romanced Liara in Mass Effect 1 will get their chance to pursue that line again. Not only is LotSB the first piece of important DLC for Mass Effect 2, according to Bioware it will also be one of the first in a line of DLC that will influence Mass Effect 3. The enviroments and sounds are beautiful, the dialog has that perfect tone between seriousness and comedy, and the story is downright engaging. Even if you didn’t like Liara, you’ll find that LotSB will still pique your interest and give you the ride of your life.
You will like Lair of the Shadow Broker if:
- You love Mass Effect 1 and 2
- You romanced Liara in 1
- You wish to get all the pieces ready for Mass Effect 3
You will NOT like Lair of the Shadow Broker if:
- You do not like Mass Effect 1 or 2. Simple as that.
Now how about we shift our focus. A while back the topic of paying for demos came up on the VGZ podcast. Initially, a lot of us were pretty pissed off about the whole idea. I know I sure was. However, Capcom just reassured me that this could potentially be a good idea, if more companies pursue it in this fashion. I present to you, ladies and gentlemen of VGZ, Dead Rising 2: Case 0. Case 0 is a downloadable prequel to Capcom’s upcoming game Dead Rising 2, doubling both as an introduction to the Dead Rising 2 story and a demo.
Case 0 starts with the protagonist, Chuck Greene, as he stops at a gas station in a small town with his daughter. His truck gets stolen, and he has to find these parts to a motorcycle so he can leave before the military comes. I would just like to say that I did not like a lot of the first Dead Rising. There were many small design flaws that broke the game for me and made it absolutely boring. I’m happy to say that Dead Rising 2, at least with Case 0, fixed a lot of these problems, and kept almost all of the things that I enjoyed about the first.
Psychopaths are back with their funny screamo-esque music, the AI for the survivors seem to have been improved somewhat, all of the funny weapons and clothes are back, fanservice everywhere, and the setting seems a bit more diverse than just a shopping mall. To add to all of this is the combo system, and I don’t mean like fighting game combos. In Dead Rising 2 and Case 0, Chuck can take two certain weapons or items, and combine them together to make a new one. Examples: Beer + Hat = Beerhat, Bat + Nails = Spiked Bat, Paddle + Chainsaw = Paddlesaw (think Darth Maul’s Lightsaber, but with chainsaws on the end). I found myself loving the hell out of just building new things.
For a 5$ (yes, that IS the price) game, Case 0 is as Frank West would say, “FAAAAAAAAAANTASTIC!” Six endings, a good dose of achievements, and some good zombie killing fun, this game is the best deal you can find on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The best part? All of your things will transfer over into Dead Rising 2, due out in about two weeks. I just hope Capcom proves to me that this is NOT the best it’s gonna get.
You wll like Dead Rising 2 Case 0 if:
- You enjoy killing zombies
- You loved Dead Rising 1
You will NOT like Dead Rising 2 Case 0 if:
- You are that damn adamant about not paying for downloadable games
- You think zombie killing games has outlived its time
If there’s one kind of game that stays true to what it’s about, it’s H-Games. However, in recent events I’ve found myself completely mistaken with the H-Games I’ve acquired. Today I would like to point you to one of the more well known H-Games and the deceptive piece of pornogrophy it is. But I guess you should probably learn what an H-Game is first. Essentially, it is a Japanese anime porn game. That’s right. They are eerily plentiful in Japan, it seems. They usually take the form of a visual novel in which you read a story and make small choices, and those choices change the events of the story.
The game I played was simply called “Do You Like Horny Bunnies?” This came off as a rather intriguging title, so I tried it out. It was pretty simple and straight forward in terms of gameplay and decisions. Sakura Wars: So Long My Love was more complicated than this visual novel. However, staying true to what visual novels are about, you never see your own face, nor does your character have a voice actor. With this, you are free to imagine yourself performing these lechorous acts in the place of the character.
So, your character is a guy that looks like a girl that ends up working at a restraunt. He becomes a waiter and is surrounded by other waitresses. The catch? They wear bunny outfits. A dream for many men, I’m sure. Each of the girls seems to really want to sleep with you, and they all succeed at least once. If this is what Japanese women are all like, I’m surprised we don’t hear about women raping men there more often! The story follows your characer as he chooses a girl he wants to go out with, then branches off with how each of the relationships works.
The characters seem to cover a wide range of fetishes. Incest since one of the girls is your cousin, one girl craves sperm, one girl pees when she has sex, one likes toys, and one is your general older woman. Each one is rather nice, but each also creeped me out at least once in a way. Nothing too bad, though, I suppose.
My beef with the game is simply this, however: the game is called “Do You Like Horny Bunnies?” yet I found no bunnies at all! There were girls dressed in bunny ears and tails, bunny girls if you will, but there were no rabbits of any kind! What kind of false advertisement is that? You spend half the game wondering when you think you’re going to see a cute, fuzzy bunny, and then they never come! I could not even come to comprehend the nature of this game. I was expecting a visual novel teaching me about rabbit breeding habits. What I got was a visual novel teaching me how to sleep with Japanese waitresses wearing bunny outfits.
While I felt outraged that I was mislead by the title of the product, after I finally sat down and gave it a chance, it really wasn’t all that bad. While it wasn’t as educational in the subject matter that I wished, it was certainly some kind of educational. I’ve been informed, though, that there was in fact a sequel to this game. I’m tempted to try it to see if they fixed any of my general concerns. Well, until then I can enjoy my renamed “Do You Like Bunnygirls?” game.
You will like this game if:
- You like bunnygirls
You will NOT like this game if:
- You like horny bunnies
Well then, it’s time to hit on one of the largest breakout cultural hits. And by that, I mean Scott Pilgrim. Now, I’m not going to discuss the comic, the movie, and how most gamers view this series, as that will be covered by my colleague Zed. However, I am going to give a review of the game that was recently released on PSN, and will soon be released on XBLA.
Now, as for a basic summary of the game, wow. That is literally what I said when I first started playing it. Wow. It’s amazing. The pixel art by Paul Robertson is beyond fantastic, the soundtrack by chiptune artists Amanaguchi is equally stunning. And, most importantly, it’s a very basic, classic, brass tacks beam ‘em up. It plays like a spiritual sequel to River City Ransom, with the use of items as weapons, such as trash cans and empty bottles, to the store system where you eat food to refill health and guts, and increase the stats of your characters.
As you level up, you earn new moves, some are pretty basic like an attack that can hit enemies when they’re down, to a counter move that does massive damage to any enemy, including bosses. Now, several people have said that it was moderate for difficulty, but I will admit that even when playing on the easiest setting, I was soundly getting my ass kicked. You have three lives to start with, though once you lose them all you simply get put back on the map screen. There isn’t any permanent penalty, except losing your progress on that current world.
There are seven worlds in total, with shops in each one for a quick pick-me-up. You can call in Knives Chau, Scott’s ex-girlfriend, as a support character with the L1 button. What she does depends on the character you’re playing as. You can also find her father, Mr. Chau, roaming the world map in a very Hammer Bros from Mario 3 style. Once you defeat him, which is no easy feat, you have a chance to summon him or his wife instead of Knives for a support attack. It’s a nice little addition, I thought. Something extra that was unlockable. Which of course, harkens back to the old days of gaming that most of us know and love.
Speaking of which, the references are heavy. But, not in a sort of in-your-face way. They usually, from me anyhow, elicit a smile and maybe a chuckle. Medusa Head enemies that can knock you off of platforms, the Mario 3 style world map, various sound effects, the way each character exits a world after a boss fight, graffiti on the backgrounds showing mushrooms, even some of the items you can purchase in the stores. Most gamers who started on the NES will notice most of them, as that really seems to be the era that they are pulling them from.
The combat in the game honestly felt a bit slow at first, but after completing the first stage, I had no trouble with it at all. Also, if you feel your character moves slow, buy SPD boosting food. That being said, enemies are sometimes unfair. You can be juggled quite easily, and there is one enemy type that loves nothing more than picking up items and throwing them at you as you try to attack others. So, be prepared for that. Fortunately, you do have a block button, and there are only a handful of attacks in the entire game that you cannot stop. So, it plays like any classic beat ‘em up. If you have experience with Streets of Rage, Final Fight, or any number of Capcom or Data East arcade brawlers, you’ll do fine.
Now, onto replayability. Unfortunately, at this time, the game does not have online play at all. It is only local co-op. They may decide to implement a patch that adds online play, but so far there hasn’t been any mention of it. That being said, there are four characters to play as initially, with two more hidden. At the time of this writing, we don’t know how to unlock the sixth character, or who they even are. Each character has their own unique attacks, and though they have the same descriptions, they look different depending on the character. Each character also gets their own endings, a twist on the comics. It should be noted that the game, the comics, and the movie are all separate. So, while the endings for the game are not in line with the canon comic, they are still enjoyable and fun, and worth obtaining.
So, for those that are looking for a short blurb, here you go. Did you grow up in the 90′s? Did you enjoy beat ‘em ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage? Are you okay playing such a game solo, or with a couple of friends over at your house? If you answered yes to any or all of these, buy Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game. At the very frugal friendly price of $9.99, I personally found it worth every single last cent. As far as the hype surrounding the game, it was not unwarranted. It is easily one of the best games I own. And I own a lot of games.
During the summer, it’s not uncommon to come across only one game a month and find yourself enjoying it solely for the fact of it being a new game. On rare occasions will the summer produce a title that you feel was genuinely good and amusing. This month, we had a few games such as BlazBlue Continuum Shift and Dragon Quest IX. But today, I would like to bring to your attention a game that probably went overlooked by many people, but deserves some your undivided attention for a few hours. That game is Limbo.
Limbo is a side scrolling platforming puzzle game. Quite a mouthful there. It’s is available on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 MS Points, which is about fifteen American dollars. Now, that right there is usually something that turns me away from an XBLA game, as they usually don’t feel worth that much. However, there have been plenty of games well worth that, Shadow Complex and Castle Crashers for example. At first I was tempted to not even bother, despite it looking like a pretty interesting adventure. I was lucky, though, in that I had a friend who bought it, in which I got to play theirs. After playing it, I feel I would gladly go back and buy the game just so I could give them the money, as the experience was well worth it.
Limbo tells the story of a young boy who loses his sister and chases her into Limbo. For those who don’t know, Limbo is the place in between Heaven and Hell. Dante travels through Limbo during the Divine Comedy before he reaches Heaven. Anyways, you chase your sister into Limbo, and find that everything is a shadow. You’re a shadow, the trees are shadows, the shadows are shadows, and so on. It kind of has a Noir feeling to it, in that the game really loves to contrast between light and shadow. You go through traps, chases, and puzzles to find your way back to your sister. There isn’t much dialogue here, but you’re not here for the story.
There are two reasons you want to play Limbo. One would be the incredibly creepy atmosphere. I could not get over how I found the majority of Limbo creepier and more terrifying than the latest Silent Hill and Resident Evil games. The contrast between light and shadow makes things very difficult to see, so you never know if something is about to come kill you. The first few minutes of the game I kept finding myself walking into bear traps and getting my head cut off. The game, while you don’t really see any blood, is pretty grusome to say the least. Limbo almost plays out as if it were advancing through history. You start out facing some pretty simple traps and objects, such as bear traps, wooden boxes, ropes, and creatures with spears. As you progress through the game, you eventually come up against gun turrets and gravitational fields and magnets. It almost feels like it’s showing some kind of mental evolution, but I may just be looking into it too much.
The second reason you want to play Limbo is for the puzzles. Limbo will have you scratching your head a good few times before it’s all over. The whole range of them are there, from timing jumps, to finding proper switches, to using magnets to make a metal box come out of a blocked off area so you can use it. Limbo is one of the most fun puzzle games I’ve played in a while, probably since Braid a few years back. While Limbo isn’t nearly as complicated as Braid, it definitely has its own charm and flavor that is easy to appreciate.
Normally, I’d also comment on the sound, but Limbo sounds like what I’d expect Limbo to sound like: nothing. There’s no music, just atmospheric white noise in the background to give you a very creepy chill, and the sound effects are limited to sounds you get when you drop something, jump, or when you die. That sounds pretty boring, but I can honestly say I feel it brings out the creepiness of the game, and I applaud the team for giving it that kind of ambiance without much sound.
Limbo is a genuinely good and fun title to play for only fifteen bucks. The game has one of the best atmospheres I’ve felt in a game, mind-boggling puzzles, and quite the artistic graphic design. The game is strong is giving you a creepy sensation akin to old school horror games, but weak in that it is generally short. I actually beat it in a single playthrough of about two or three hours. Limbo will no doubt get overlooked this summer, but if you get the chance, give it a play.
You will like this game if:
- You enjoy puzzle platformers like Braid
- You like creepy yet artistic atmospheres akin to old school Silent Hill with a mix of Shadow of the Colossus
- You love a game that’s just a straight game not cluttered with story
- You like artsy games
You will NOT like this game if:
- You don’t like platformers or puzzle games
- You hate the whole ‘Games are art’ idea
- You prefer story over gameplay
- You don’t like to be creeped out or don’t like creepy atmospheres in games