Everybody, It's Limbo Time!
When I purchased Inside it came in a two pack with another game, Limbo. I'd actually heard of this game, saw a couple of reviews of it, so I was totally interested in checking it out, especially with how much fun I'd had with the other game in the set. Sadly, I just didn't dig this game anywhere near as much as I'd hoped to.
Like Inside, Limbo is a minimalist side-scrolling platform game. As in the previous, you play as a small child waking up in the woods without much of a clue as to what's going on or what happened. Limbo sports a muted, greyscale art-style with everything bathed in harsh light and deep shadow. As you take your child to the right (without only occasional stops to the left), you march deeper and deeper into what seems like a fallen world or city. You explore via a minimal set of controls: jump, climb, and push. There's no H.U.D. or any kind of distractions, so it's just you, the kid, and the greyed out world.
It's hard to know what the story of Limbo actually is. I'm sure there's a developer FAQ out there that explains the world but I wanted to get all the story from the game (if it's not in a game I'm playing or a movie I'm watching, I tend to consider it "non-cannon" for my experience). With Inside where the game kept ramping up the weirdness and, as you got deeper and deeper into the world got a sense of the "story" of the game, all without text or voice acting. It was impressive. Limbo, though, doesn't have that same kind of build up. Pretty early you get attacked by other kids in their make-shift forts, then get lost in deeper woods and are nearly killed by a giant spider. Then it's off into a city, and then a factory, without much in the way of connective tissue to hold them together.
What caused the world to fall? Is this a parallel dimension, or is it actual Limbo and we're somehow dead? If it is Limbo, like the name of the game would imply, then where is there technology. Most of all, why does the game end when it does? Inside had a sense of finality to the end sequence, but Limbo just kind of stops. It didn't really work for me.
The weaker story was one thing, but I also just didn't enjoy the game itself. The puzzles in Limbo weren't nearly as creative or varied as Inside. Within the first fifteen minutes I'd seen most of the puzzles the game had to offer and the only thing that changes was how much more work I had to put in -- longer scenes, more complex puzzles. That wouldn't have been so bad except the difficulty is much higher in this game as well. There were a number of scenes where I would die over and over just trying to get all the pieces lined up, only to have to redo all my steps again and again. It was obnoxious.
I want to like Limbo. I find this kind of minimalistic platformer intriguing, and the art style of the game is effective. Based on sheer ambiance, the game is great. There's just so many pieces that don't quite work -- if the story was more interesting, or the puzzles more varied, ora few things were tweaked a bit, this could have been a winner. Instead it feels like an also ran to the other game in the box.