Xbox Live’s third annual Summer of Arcade, presenting the biggest and best smash hits of the season, kicks off today with the release of Limbo. A short description on the Xbox Live Marketplace leads way into a marvelously morose journey: “Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO.”
That’s it. There is no before, no after, no rhyme or reason as to why you awake in a wind-swept meadow where everything wants you dead. Premonitions of your sister haunt you, leading you from beginning to end across the puzzles and platforms of a title that you won’t soon forget.
Curiosity killed the cat and it will kill you endless times as you traverse through the relentlessly unforgiving, monotone terrains of Limbo. Your shadowy antagonist will die six ways from Sunday, leaving his body at the mercy of the gory elements as he gets tossed to his demise, flailing around like a ragdoll before impact, or is severed up proportionally like a sushi roll over countless deathtraps. As I progressed further through the alien environments of the eerie, foreboding wasteland, I grew more and more impressed at the difficulty of the puzzles aspects presented in this game. Limbo is, if nothing else, a tremendous addition to the puzzle-platform genre, with challenges that almost out-grace its design. Almost…
An incredibly distinct and stylized experience on a plain of its own, Limbo is a misleading title because the game leaves you in anything but. Imaginative 2D backgrounds and foregrounds add a tremendous sense of depth to a game penned in grayscale. Coupled with the luscious soundscapes accompanying you on your macabre platforming adventure, an often auditory battle between ominous and graceful, and you are left wading in a sea of vivid and luscious ambience that at often times feels like a blissful dream with lullabies from Sigur Ros. Then there are the frantic sequences when evading buzz saws and spiders that feel like an early 90’s Nine Inch Nails video: buzzing flies, heavy industrial overlays, and faded track effects. Everything melds together harmoniously somewhere amongst the often juxtaposing images of light and dark, and you are left with an experience that is seemingly flawless, one that will leave you wide-eyed until its hopeful conclusion.
Certain to receive scrutiny only for its length, four hours of play time may not warrant a 1200 ($15) Microsoft Point price tag from some players. Truth be told, I was so immersed in the aura of it all that I couldn’t possibly argue against it. People pay millions of dollars for famous paintings of upright women and upside-down stairways; $15 for this artistic genius is nothing less than a steal.
I still truly believe that some of the best games on any console can be found on Xbox Live Arcade. Limbo embraces my factorum, shattering any debate and presenting itself like Roswell to the argument of a UFO investigator. It’s a sharp contrast finding beauty in the peerless Edward Gorey-esque magnificence of Limbo, but one can’t help but marvel at its accomplishment. The game emits radiance from a world deafened by gloom and opaque shadow, and you as the player are left to bask in its shine.
Video & Screenshots: [YOUTUBE]Y4HSyVXKYz8[/YOUTUBE]