Maybe you have played the 1991 platformer ‘Another World‘ back in the Amiga or in my case Atari times. I remember the very smooth animations which in those days were just awesome compared to the frame-by-frame pixel animation most of the games had. Without any textures however the game got a certain minimalistic feel. This is what Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the “edge” of Hell) reminds me of. But I am not comparing. It is fresh. It is more creepy. And this is due to two simple design decisions: first of all it is all black and white, with an old flickering camera effect and all shapes are drawn as silhouettes only. Second, there is no music whatsoever. Just sounds and some ambient noise. And those are just awesome! Footsteps, flies and… what is that noise coming from the bushes over there?

Creepy visual art, perfect atmosphere. My new favorite parallax-scrolling puzzle platformer is called... Limbo! (sorry, Braid)

Usually I am not a big platformer fan, but i saw the trailer on steam the other day – mostly attracted by the visual art – and i decided to give this interesting looking piece of work a go once it comes out for PC as well. So here I am, about 30mins into the game and I am not regretting any second of it. Just the right dosage of creepiness, with excellent puzzles, which so far have not become frustrating by getting too difficult (remember the complexity curve climbing up in Braid? It is nothing like that). Granted, in many situations you simply die because you fell into some hole or something that you have not seen while sliding down a hill, but once you know that there IS a hole, you know what to do to avoid falling into it. I even reacted in time once in a while to prevent myself from dying on the first try and those are the rewarding moments you should go for in this game. Very often it is just a question of timing and figuring out how to get through at all. Once you have an idea how to do it, it is a piece of cake. There is a pile of things preventing you from progressing (holes, spikes, water, traps, boulders rolling down towards you and not to forget the giant spiders of course) and I assume the puzzles get even more complex later, but so far it is just right as it is. And even if you die: the death animations are done with love for the details. Just to give you an example: when you drown you hear all sounds muffled.

In case you are not afraid of spiders (did i mention they are giants?), this game is definitely worth the price of just 9.99 eur. I am pretty impressed what the indie game scene is releasing lately. It really reminds me of a film noir. Very experimental and quite fresh. Game developer Playdead (founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006 by Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti) did an amazing job to create an innovative piece of art with a huge amount of attention for the little details making it a stunning experience to play.

As the plot described on wikipedia contains quite some spoilers, i suggest you to not even go there but instead just start playing the game. The atmosphere feeds from the fact that everything needs to be explored by yourself – I will only mention what you need to know here: you play a boy who apparently is searching for his sister. The story starts without any menu or intro, but just with the boy waking up in the middle of the forest. The player is in control of his actions immediately after loading and without any tutorial (which makes it obvious why you will die a few times at least in the beginning). But to be honest, I like that… if I would have preferred to watch a movie I would probably have gone to the cinema. You enter Limbo to explore and that is what most of my favorite games are about.

Blury foreground, fading background, blooming lights and ambient noise paired with very smooth and detailed animation. Even the grass is moving when running through it.

The character can be controlled either by gamepad (which is just great being on the sofa and play it on TV in a dark room) or with keyboard. The only keys you need are the directional ones plus an action button. Especially because of the limited control I am even more impressed about the puzzles so far. But I don’t want to spoil any of those of course, you will just have to trust me on this and get the game yourself. You will probably thank me later. Enjoy!

P.S.: Get the XP re-release demo (first level) of Another World here.