Humble Indie Bundle Out NOW (And it’s The Best One Yet!)


HEY! You’ve only 11 days left to snap up one of the best deals in gaming (ever!). Pay what you want, get five amazing games which would normally run you $110 if you bought them separately. Yes, your brain is hearing that correctly and YES you can and should do this, I say.  If you’ve never played Amnesia; The Dark Descent, Bastion, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, and LIMBO, the deal is already a must buy, but add in Psychonauts and well, you’re getting not only one of the best games this century, you can also probably fire your therapist. Or at least, cut down visits to once a month (or less). Anyway, head over the the Humble Bundle site and download these awesome titles. Did I mention your purchase helps out the Child’s Play charity?  Well, I just did, so there! Still, it’s too bad this deal isn’t on a disc or consoles, as I’d see it selling VERY well indeed at around $40 with some nice artwork and maybe a PDF manual for every game on that disc (or disc set).

See You At PopRally!

It’s going to be a SUPER BUSY day today, between a few press meetings (Bethesda and D3Publisher, sorry EA – I had to drop someone today and you lost the coin toss!), then it’s off to
MoMA to help the KillScreen guys out with tonight’s Arcade event at PopRally. I’ll be manning the LIMBO station starting at 10PM until 11:30, so if you’re in the area, drop by and say hi! If I can, I’ll take some photos and post them tomorrow or around the weekend. I still have Call of Juarez: The Cartel and Captain America reviews to complete (among other things…)

Review: LIMBO

Platform: Xbox 360

Developer: PLAYDEAD

Publisher: Xbox LIVE Marketplace

# of Players: 1

Rating: T (Teen)


Score: A

I’m a grown man of a ripe middle age vintage, so a great deal of my childhood fears no longer cause me to feel any sort of trauma. These days I can laugh at folks who are still scared of minor things such as spiders, darkness, not so sturdy surfaces or even bear traps. Well, OK… bear traps are still pretty scary, but they can also be pretty darn funny in certain situations. Anyway, a few of my fellow editor types have been bugging me to play Limbo ever since it hit the Marketplace and I’ve finally gotten around to giving it a shot. It’s indeed a near brilliant exercise in effective game design thanks to simple to pick up and play controls, unsettling black and white visuals, effective sound design and the relentless sense of dread less jaded gamers will get from playing. For the cheapskates used to those slapped together Marketplace games that go for a buck or so, the price point might seem high for the amount of gameplay. However, in terms of sheer quality this is one ride that’s well worth the expense.

Don’t expect a deeply engrossing spelled out to the letter plot or loads of stirring dialog in this one. Limbo is part platformer, part puzzle and all pure survival game. It’s less a twisted version of a Mario game than a more stylized version of the PC classic Out of this World mixed with the PS One Oddworld games and a jigger of the original Prince of Persia. You play as a young boy who wakes up in a strange and extremely deadly world packed to the gills with some truly clever (and yes, deadly) puzzles, traps and enemies out to stop your progress. As you move forward and start dealing with the assortment of simple to quite tricky physics-based puzzles, the game world seeps into your brain and the hours almost zip by as you head to the ending.

In fact, once you start Limbo, it’s very hard to stop playing… that is unless you’re not used to seeing a game character expire in so many horrible ways. The starkness (and darkness) of the silhouette graphics don’t hide the fact that this game would most likely be rated M if it were presented in full color. You’ll see your little guy die in so many graphic ways that the easily frightened will probably want to step away from the game after a few attempts at tackling some of the trickier puzzles or jumping sections. Conversely, those who aren’t easily scared off by a few deaths will press on and really appreciate the great puzzles (and a few really tricky to nab Achievements).

Your character has only a few basic moves here. He can walk, run, perform a small jump, push/pick up/carry objects or climb and swing from chains or other devices. Early on, there’s at least one mandatory death just to show you to pay attention to your surroundings. After that, you’re on your own. The game isn’t difficult or frustrating once you get into the game world and start figuring out what can kill you if you don’t act quickly enough (or move too slowly). Some objects in the game are dual purpose in that you need to use them to advance through a puzzle or you’re dead before you’ve taken a few steps. The jumping sections require pinpoint accuracy and even better timing, especially as the game progresses.

Death comes in all manner of ways from drowning, crushing, assorted sharp object impalement (it’s not just the giant spiders), electrocution and so forth and so on. Fortunately, the game never sets you back too far from where you last expired, lessening the annoyance factor considerably. I actually liked the fact that there’s no conventional “save” system in play, no loading screens between areas or other instances where players are yanked out of the game world. Playdead wants you to sink into your favorite chair and basically enter the deadly little world they’ve created from beginning to end.

A great deal of the dying will come from surprises that catch you off guard the first time through and a perfect run through the game will take a few attempts (provided you don’t cheat by studying online videos). The trial and error aspect of the game will indeed frustrate the short attention span crowd that wants cheats and difficulty selection straight out of the gate, but those of you who can recall the NES days should feel right at home. The game is definitely some sort of exercise in dying and dealing with dying, but I’m not going to try and tack on some sort of deep meaning to the hair’s width of a story. The developer seems to have cleverly constructed a game that doesn’t require much thought to play yet will drive gaming theorists batty from trying to read between all the lines it has in its waters.

Some may complain that the game is “too short” at around five or six hours the first time through. I’d say you can chalk this up to more modern gamers spending more time playing the titles they buy in longer stretches rather than developers deliberately cooking up truncated game experiences. Besides, if any game hooks you in so that it’s played from start to finish in one sitting, it can’t be a totally awful game, right? In any event, Limbo is indeed a solid and memorable game experience that hooks you in right from the moment you fire it up and although it ends a bit too quickly, is still one of the best games of 2010.