I find myself in a weird limbo in my life. Mere days ago, I learned that the company I’ve been with these last 3 years will be folding and I face an uncertain future. I should point out that this team has been a sort of “Enterprise crew” bringing together the best of the best. Losing this team is heartbreaking. We shall be together, ah, nevermore. But that’s why we have video games; to help cheer us up. And I thought an apt game for the weekly review was Limbo.
So what is Limbo? It seems like it’s been around for ages. It was developed by Playdead in 2011 and is a simple platform game. It moves from side to side as you control an unnamed boy in search of his sister. The graphics are soft and gentle; muted grey and deep black. There are no words spoken and everything the boy goes through has to be conveyed by what is on-screen. The boy’s eyes blink too. That might seem like such a basic thing, but in this game, it stands out. There’s a realness to the silent protagonist. And the game is simple and brilliant; a heck of a combination. There is a subtlety that one might call sublime.
The game is comprised of a series of puzzles as you move through the various areas. This may take the form of simply jumping over pits to avoiding traps or moving boxes to figure out how to leave an area. Now, I am a big fan of dark imagery; I am a fan of Cthulhu after all, but there is one creature I abhor. And of course, that’s the creature chasing our protagonist. Yeah, that’s a spider working his way over hill and dale to find me. The best you can hope for is some quick keyboard maneuvers. This isn’t a button-mashing game. I play on the PC, so it’s down to some simple keystrokes. Arrows for movement, and space for jumping. If you’re worried about a big learning curve, you’ve just had the entire lesson!
The game retails for a mere $10 but it’s a short game. You won’t get more than a few hours out of it. I played for just over 4, but you’re not paying for the time in game; you’re paying for the quality of the game and, frankly, the artwork. No, this is not an action game and won’t have you sitting on the edge of your seat (that’s a pun; look up the word Limbo for its origin) but it will have you curious as to what will happen next. Will our young friend find his sister? What other denizens are there in this place? And is that a raven, having left his pallid bust of Pallas above my chamber door?
You’ll be hooked once you start exploring this land of both shadow and substance. Sometimes, we have to get through Limbo just to see what awaits us on the other side. It pays to be hopeful, as our protagonist will learn. Sometimes the best things are found in the face of adversity! And there is a chance he will find his sister, after all.
I last encountered a personal Limbo in 2008 and what I found on the other side lead to 10 joyful years. I found a great place with the best team of which one could ever hope to be a part. To find myself in another Limbo now, at the start of a new year, no less, I realize I must again go into it with that wonderful emotion: hope. But uncertainty is not easy and until I know what the future holds, it’s simply… Limbo. ML