Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Limbo (2010) - Computer Games Are Not Just For Kids!!!

If you think 'Limbo' is just a game with a pole then you'd be sorely mistaken. Originally released in 2010, it's one of the freakiest and most bizarre computer games that you'll ever play but it's also one of the best. If you haven't got one already then go out, buy an Xbox 360 and download 'Limbo' right now.

Critics have universally praised the downloadable title, which is more akin to a piece of art than just another 2D side scrolling platformer. As with most great things, the premise is simple. As the player, you must guide an unnamed boy through a series of dangerous environments that are full of pitfalls and traps. The gameplay has that addictive just-one-more-go quality that reminds me of classic 90s arcade games, but its the art direction that truly sets 'Limbo' apart.

With its black and white styling, grainy visuals and eerie sound effects, 'Limbo' is a seriously dark game. It may feature kids but its sure as hell not for kids. Within the first few minutes of gameplay, you come across the corpses of children hanging over your head, mean spirited kids who try to kill you and a f*** off huge bloody spider that chases you relentlessly. I was genuinely freaked out at numerous points in this game.  

What makes 'Limbo' even more disturbing is the key gameplay mechanic, coined by Danish game developers Playdead as 'trial and death'. To complete the challenges that the boy faces, you must repeatedly lead him to his horrific and often graphically violent death, over and over again, until you eventually overcome the puzzles that become increasingly fiendish as the game progresses. Fancy getting squished, impaled, eaten, drowned, smashed and electrocuted? Then 'Limbo's' your game!

The story gives very little away and as with many great pieces of art, it's all about your own interpretation. Is the boy in heaven, hell or somewhere in between? The developers have given nothing away and while some may may detest this ambiguity, I love how it adds to the dark, mysterious atmosphere. This all particularly comes into play towards the end of the game, when SPOILER ALERT the boy is suddenly thrust through a glass wall and comes across a young girl. Just as the two are about to interact, the game abruptly fades away. Seriously, what the hell is going on there? Is it a happy ending, where the boy is reunited with his sister after enduring a series of trials? Or is the boy actually dead? Watch the ending below and judge for yourself.  

So what do you think of 'Limbo'? Is it one of the best games released in the past five years? And what does the ending mean to you? Let me know what you think by commenting, liking and sharing below.


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