Limbo is one of those games I never got round to playing. I had always planned to get it, but other games always seemed to get in the way, so when I was presented with the opportunity to review it on the Vita I snapped it up - the excuses were over.
The words that spring to mind here and now are better late than never!
Now unless you have been living on Mars for the last year or so, or have just ignored the fact that this game is out there, there is probably no way that you have not at least heard about this game.
Explaining the story to someone who has not heard or read about it, is however quite a tricky thing to do.
Our hero is a nameless young boy (for some reason I have since nicknamed him Dave) who wakes up to find himself in an eerie forest. All is quiet and the kid has no clue as to how he got here. Looking around he seems to be alone, but wait, who is that standing there near the trees? The figure of a girl runs away into the trees and our 'Dave' decides to follow her.
Who is she? A guide? His sister? (Internet polls suggest that that may be the case). Perhaps more important is the question, where the heck is he? A forest yes, but in a world devoid of light and shade, no colour, and it's eerily quiet.
So 'Dave' picks himself up off the forest floor and follows this mysterious girl. He soon loses sight of her and he also discovers that this twilight world is a as dangerous as it is mysterious.
The environment is a tool that can be used to his advantage but it can also be a hazard.
Add to that the fact there are bear traps left in well hidden places, and Giant Spiders that are more than willing to stab our poor hero and kill him, then our 'Dave' has to start relying on his wits and intelligence to get through the hazards that he will face.
And he has to adapt when the forest gets left behind and he faces areas with mechanical contrivances, buzz saws and other hazards. Once past there...well we don't do spoilers here!
This is no sideways scrolling platform game as such, although 'Dave' will have to do a bit of jumping from tree branch to tree branch and over gaps. He will have to climb ropes, ladders and chains as well to overcome obstacles, avoid danger, and gain access to remote areas.
This is also not a shooter or beat them up game either. 'Dave' has no gun, or sword to fight enemies with. He doesn't punch or kick them either and there is no Mario style jumping on enemies heads to dispatch them. 'Dave' will have to, as already said, use the environment to overcome his foes.
This will exercise your brain cells rather than your trigger finger. It's challenging and atmospheric to the max, its pace is dictated by you as a player, because you'll soon learn that there are certain sections where slow but steady will win the day over charging straight on ahead without knowing what lies ahead.
A lot of this game is trial and error based. And like Dark Souls you will die...a lot.
It may seem at some times that the challenge ahead is too difficult. This however, may just be a case that you are not quite looking in the right place to find the solution. Indeed as you learn early on, it may well be a case of going back the way you came, and realizing that that is the reason for that being there! (Like a bear trap on a tree branch for instance)
Our hero can and will have to manipulate the landscape as well, by pulling and pushing some objects. This is easily done, approach the object, press the O button and then move 'Dave' in the desired direction. These objects can become the only weapons at your disposal so take time to search the area you are in. Patience and vigilance pays off.
How does the game end? I'll leave that for you to find out.
This is an eerie and shadowy world devoid of colour, but do not let that put you off at all. This is Limbo after all, a shadowy place where everything is represented in shadow or silhouette. Indeed our heroes eyes glow in the dark!
Light does filter through the trees but it's not natural sunlight, instead being some strange, mysterious light source. It's hard to explain in words, it really is worth looking at some captured screen images to see what I mean.
The graphics are more than adequate. They give the game an eerie, etherial atmosphere that is truly spooky and you'll soon come to ignore the lack of colour.
We can address the voice talent with a short and simple statement. There are no voices or speech in this game. But what you do have is plenty of ambient sounds. Wind sighs through the trees, water drips in what can only be called a spooky way (faint echoes etc) and when those bear traps go off they go off with a heavy 'snap!' that will make you wince (especially if you are caught in one when they do get triggered). Spiders hiss nastily and gears and chains all clank and rattle with nice mechanical sounds. They add to the atmosphere very well indeed.
'Dave' moves very smoothly, there is no jerkiness in the way he runs (Albeit not as fast as some folks would like) or jumps. Movements look natural, and the character responds well to the controls.
It is all done with buttons and the left stick and the shoulder buttons. There is no touch screen interaction here, and the back screen is not required. The game shows the responsiveness of the Vita's controls very nicely indeed and enforce my opinion that the Vita really is one of the, if not THE best hand held machine on the market right now.
This is a sweet, albeit macabre little title. It will engage you, encourage you to overcome that obstacle, to give it just one more go and beat that nasty creature, or trap.
It will sink it's hooks into you and you'll find what was meant to be just a twenty minute or half hour session has become an hour or two, maybe more. Yes be warned, if you are new to this title and start playing it, you could well become ensnared in the strands of it's black and white web.
There are not too many to be honest. The major one is that the game is short and can (with perseverance) be completed in just a few hours. It is challenging, and yes frustrating, and dying over and over may well put some off, but if you can play Demon's Souls and it's ilk then this should not be too much of a problem!
So there you have it, Limbo. Engaging and challenging and one of the most atmospheric games I have encountered for some time. It may pose more questions than it actually answers but frankly I don't care. There is replay value as hidden throughout the game are little glowing eggs. They don't add to your final score, or grant you bonuses or power ups, they are a side quest as it were.
What do the eggs do then? Don't know! What's the boy's real name? Don't know!
Is the mysterious girl his sister? A guardian Angel? Who knows.
Limbo is a mystery, an enigma, nicely presented and it makes you care for our nameless hero and makes you want to help him overcome his situation. A great little game, and one I wish I had gotten my hands on earlier. So if you are still in the situation where you are thinking is Limbo worth my time and money, then in my humble opinion the answer is yes.