As South Africa enters its 21-day lockdown in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, it has left many civilians in the isolation of their homes. Many see this as a great opportunity to spend quality time with some family and loved ones, while others cherish diving into forms of entertainment to occupy their time and pass the weeks (when not working remotely, in that case). To cushion some of the tedium, Nexus has decided to create a daily feature in which we recommend games of varying lengths and content that could pass the time. Our twelfth recommendation in Lockdown Gaming takes us on a haunting, dark journey into the abyss with Limbo.
I don't typically talk about indie games much unless they had a profound impact on me after I played it. It just so happened that over the last two decades or so, there have been a number of phenomenal indie games that caught me off-guard and made appreciate this niche corner of the gaming market. Titles like Fez, Super Meat Boy, Firewatch, Braid, Gone Home, and Papers, Please have all resonated with me in one way or another. Enter Limbo from developer Playdead, arguably the most aesthetically unique indie game of our time (a bold claim in the indie genre, but let me explain).
Playdead set out to make a simple puzzle-platformer, albeit with a decidedly darker approach to the usual fair. What they cooked up was something unexpectedly mesmerizing, and haunting in the best of ways. Playing as an unknown boy who awakens in the middle of a dark forest, Limbo takes players on a journey to discover who he is and what his purpose is in the greater scheme of things. Along your travels, you'll come across a few monstrous encounters and other children, who all seem to take pleasure in murdering you in increasingly gruesome ways.
The genius of Limbo boils down to its eye-catching aesthetic. By washing out all the colour from the game, it creates a palpable and evocative atmosphere that lends itself more to a horror theme than an adventure. For the most part, puzzle-solving and platforming is what you'll be doing on your journey. Limbo is a deceptively challenging game, and you will die a lot, but a part of that addictive charm comes with how you overcome your deadly obstacles. Traps are hard to see at first glance thanks to the ominous shadows and bleak shades of grey, so walking into a bear trap or boulder swing is common. However, finding a solution to these problems is where the game ultimately shines.
Limbo is mostly divided into two parts: a forest area and a more city-based industrial area. The dark forest is where the magic of the game really comes out, as this is where you'll encounter the various creatures and tribal children. Because of that, the game arguably feels way more lively and vivid in the first half, but that doesn't detract from some of the greater points in the second half's industrial zones. Here, there's a greater emphasis on puzzle-solving, and offers up some of the most challenging puzzles I've ever encountered in a video game to date. With a little perseverance, you'll be able to overcome them, though they brought me very close to quitting sometimes.
As I mentioned before, the most striking aspect of Limbo is its visuals. While a fairly simple design philosophy by today's standards, Limbo was able to make the most out of its bleak and grim aesthetic. Most of the time, you're just terrified to move forward because of how effectively scary the world is. It all culminates in an ending that is fantastic and contextualizes the game well, though I can't help but feel like it just... ends. There's little room for any epilogue or build-up once the credits roll, and I was left very pleased but also quite perplexed too.
Make no mistake, though, Limbo is something that you should absolutely play during the lockdown. You'll be able to finish the game in around 6 hours (bump it up to 8 if you're a bit of a ditz at solving puzzles, like me). The game came out ten years ago, but still holds up fantastically well. The controls are tight, the visuals are stunning, and it all leads to an ending that makes the entire experience emotional and so worth it. Playdead have quickly become one of my favourite indie developers, and I'd like to talk more about their other brilliant game, Inside, but we'll save that for another day. For now, I highly recommend Limbo. It's fairly cheap on most storefronts, so don't hesitate for another second.
Other Lockdown Gaming Features:
Lockdown Gaming Day 1: Skyrim Special Edition
Lockdown Gaming Day 2: Persona 5
Lockdown Gaming Day 3: Fallout 4
Lockdown Gaming Day 4: NieR: Automata
Lockdown Gaming Day 5: Bloodborne
Lockdown Gaming Day 6: Anthem & Fallout 76
Lockdown Gaming Day 7: Alien: Isolation
Lockdown Gaming Day 8: Final Fantasy VII
Lockdown Gaming Day 9: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Lockdown Gaming Day 10: Portal
Lockdown Gaming Day 11: Resident Evil 2 Remake
Remember to visit the South African Coronavirus Website for more information on safety and prevention tips. Stay safe!
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Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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