Limbo Of The Lost – An Astonishing Tale

By John Walker on June 12th, 2008 at 12:08 pm.

Recognise it from anywhere?

A quite remarkable story has emerged about a PC adventure game from Majestic Studios called Limbo Of The Lost. It has, it is alleged, entirely lifted locations and art from at least five other games, apparently proven in a number of screenshots posted by GamePlasma yesterday. Oblivion seems the main target, along with Thief 3 and others. Because, hey, who bought those games? But this is a larger story of peculiarity.

The development of Limbo Of The Lost has been talked about for over a decade, the first announcement of its release finally appearing in 2006 when signed to G2 Games. The press release oddly chose to boast that it had been in development for more than ten years. A lot more than ten years if the following statement is true.

“Originally created as a graphical/text adventure game for the Atari ST and then a traditional point & click game for the Amiga CD32/A1600.”

Not too sure there were many text adventures for the ST kicking around in 1996. Nevermind that the A1600 wasn’t an Amiga model at all.

Is this your skeleton?

Skip ahead two years and the game has released the vaguest of releases via G2 at some point in 2008. According to Adventure Gamers,

“The game’s European release through G2 Games late last year resulted only in a few copies available through eBay or from a small Asian retailer, casting doubt about the legitimacy of the release.”

By 7th May, US publisher Tri Synergy announced that they would be publishing the game in N. America (including the feature, “Immersive (being there) sound effects”). As recently as the 5th June a teaser trailer was released, then swiftly replaced due to failing to meet ESRB regulations with this one:

After watching this, it’s not possible to ignore last year’s “behind the scenes” trailer developers Majestic Studios put up:

Um, isn’t that Poser? And I’m not quite sure you can claim your pencil sketches are an “all star cast”. But the most stand-out part of this surely being the name of one of the characters, “Cranny Faggot”. What? Sure, we get the spoonerism. But WHAT?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

You may wonder why we’ve not linked to Majestic Studio’s website. Well, that would be because it’s on GeoCities. It’s like there can be nothing about this story that isn’t brilliant. Anyway, it’s either been whipped down, or overloaded by the attention the plagiarism accusations have brought, and you can fail to look at here.

Right, so the best bit. The screenshots. We don’t want to take anything from GamePlasma, and their fantastic discovery, and they deserve the hits they’ll be getting for this story. So head over there to see the full selection. But below is my favourite.

Limbo Of The Lost
:
brilliant design!

Oblivion:
Bethesda - how could you copy them? Ten years they spent on that!

It gets better. Neogaf posters have been spotting loads more, including scenes that appear to be from Silent Hill 4, Painkiller and Return To Castle Wolfenstein, and screen decor from Diablo 2, while at Just Adventure someone has claimed spoken dialogue has been lifted from Rune. A JA poster also spotted this story about the motley crew behind the game.

RPS readers reckon they’ve spotted more similarities, including further Thief 3 nabs, Pirates of the Caribbean game FMV, and bits from Crysis, Spawn, BioShock, UT2004, and Baldur’s Gate, although we can’t verify any of them yet. Collect them all!

My favourite is the Thief 3 inspiration, linked in this GR thread:

Thief 3:
Thief 3

Limbo Of The Lost:
Limbo

Note the addition of the skulls on the shelf. The skulls from Diablo 2.

Tri Synergy have responded, issuing a press release stating:

“Tri Synergy is just as shocked as everyone else is by the recent screenshot comparisons. At no point during our dealings with Majestic Studios up until the point that the comparison was first publicly made by a third party did we have any knowledge of these similarities. Additionally, Tri Synergy will discontinue distribution of Limbo of the Lost in both retail and online outlets.”

It’s impossible to imagine more won’t show up. We’re trying to get a copy to see what we can find. If you want to play at home, I’ve put all 76 available screenshots here, as a 20Mb zip.

For now, let’s finish with this quote from an interview with Majestic, as spotted by QT3.

Gordon: So have any more recent games influenced your current project?
Steve: The project is more influenced by film and literature rather than other games, we want the experience to be as original as possible and as such we have made a calculated effort to keep away from other games in the genre. Limbo of the Lost is an experience first and foremost, secondly wrapped up in a game media and genre.

Thanks to Michael for being the first to tip us off to this.

EDIT: I can confirm that it’s a real game – no hoax – and that it is a point and click adventure, with a loosely animated character superimposed on static screenshots.

ANOTHER EDIT: Courtesy of RPS reader Joachim, here’s a preview of Limbo of the Lost from the June 1995 issue of The One. Page 1 and Page 2.

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229 Comments »

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  1. Phil says:

    Awsome – it’s Rom Check Fail, the retail release.

    Mash up gaming is on the cutting edge – especially if you’re a intellectual property lawyer.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    lol wut?

    Extraordinary.

    The bizarre thing about doing something like this is the incomprehensible failure to realise that SOMEBODY WILL NOTICE.

  3. M says:

    Is this some kind of mad hoax?

  4. Alex says:

    That’s incredible. The first posted screenshot of “Oblivion” actually made me gasp.

  5. Ian says:

    I hope and pray that this is real. :D

  6. Dan Fuller says:

    Amazing. I saw this trailer earlier in the month and it looked a bit odd- like one of these surreal games that drift somewhere inbetween indie and big budget publishing quality. Hilarious.

  7. Alex says:

    Ha ha, just watched that “behind the screens” thing.. those ‘sketches’ are awful!

  8. John Walker says:

    I was thinking, “Is this a hoax” all the way through writing the story. Thing is, it’s on sale from Game in the UK, and those screenshots were posted by Majestic on GamesPress as long ago as 2006. Which makes it a really elaborate hoax if it is, and one I wouldn’t be embarrassed to fall for.

  9. James G says:

    The odd thing is that they don’t even try to hide it. The seem to steal textures, models and architecture, and don’t even bother trying to mix them up slightly. Its not even like they’ve ripped of some obscure games that few people have ever played, Oblivion in particular is one of the biggest releases in the past few years.

  10. Chris Evans says:

    I still can’t believe someone would do something like this. The whole thing just sounds like a joke!

  11. Albides says:

    Ohnotheydidn’t! And, man, Cranny Faggot? It’s like the kid in school that used to draw cocks in his exercise book and looked over your shoulder to cheat on tests grew up and got a job in games development.

    Also, O Fortuna makes even lame marketing slogans seem downright epic.

  12. John Walker says:

    Let us not forget:

    null

  13. SlappyBag says:

    Theres a clip from crisis in that loller-tralier

    Edit: I love the real time shadows bit in the making of video when the shadow is always in the same place no-matter where the light source is affecting the character lol

  14. The Hammer says:

    Hahaha, that Kent Messenger article is class.

    “He said: “Everything just sort of fizzled out. Then one day I was working in a pub and Tim and Steve walked in.

    “I joked ‘I thought you would be millionaires now’, and they replied ‘actually that is what we wanted to talk to you about'”.

    The three put their heads together and after three more years of hard work Limbo of the Lost – a PC adventure game – was born. It is a battle between fate and destiny, with players having to work through a series of puzzles and challenges to reach the end.”

  15. Freelancepolice says:

    Is it a coincidence the acronym of Limbo of the Lost (as long as you ignore ‘the’) is LOL?

    The animation on the dogs is priceless.

    Story of the year, hands down

  16. Jon says:

    Gameplasma has died by the look of things, time for me to download that zip file.

  17. AbyssUK says:

    Can you guys get any comments from the peeps who make the ripped off games ?? Did these guys somehow get permission ?

  18. Mooey Poo says:

    I’d like to play this, I loved Thief 3 and would enjoy revisiting all the classic locations, albeit in what is probably a far worse game. This game was made for ME AND ME ALONE.

  19. John Walker says:

    You can see the comparisons from GamePlasma on Games Radar’s forum:

    http://forum.gamesradar.com/viewtopic.php?t=120121

    EDIT: GamePlasma is working fine now.

  20. Lu-Tze says:

    My favourite one is the rip from the motion picture Spawn. Taking screenshots of games and using them as backgrounds = very very bad. Ripping hollywood movies into your FMVs = completely mindnumbingly stupid.

  21. Paul Moloney says:

    Totally obvious; I spotted the Keeper Library from Thief: DS used in the above screenshot immediately.

    I especially like the way they scrawled a couple of words on the shelves to make theirs “different”, the way Vanilla Ice added one more note to the “Under Pressure” sample to claim it was original.

    P.

  22. kuddles says:

    Every time I visit another forum or site, someone has spotted another game that this title “borrowed” from. It seems like Majestic accidentally managed to great the most ground-breaking adventure meta-game of all time.

    Here’s a couple tips for future thieves:
    1. Pick games that haven’t sold millions of copies.
    2. Put a little effort into hiding it’s origins. Leaving the same coat of arms on the wall is a no-no.

  23. Schadenfreude says:

    I am so tempted to buy this. Those guys have some big hairy balls. Where their brains should be, obviously, but still…

  24. Fede says:

    Looks really like a hoax. The LotL character’s shadow is always going in the same direction, regardless of lights, like they just “pasted” him (with shadow) over screenshots taken from other games.

  25. Duoae says:

    Haha, i loved scanning over that gamesradar thread. Someone was calling it GOTY – well, it’s got so many great games in it that it must be game of the decade!

    Oh yeah, reminds me of the time i saw a C&C Orca fighter sent in for a BBC contest to design your own aircraft… i wanted to write in and let them know that the kid didn’t think it up…

  26. MeestaNob! says:

    Has. To. Be. A. HOAX. Has to be.

    Surely the best viral advertising ever. It just cant be real.

  27. Mooey Poo says:

    Here’s a headline:
    Majestic Oblivious to Obvious Oblivion Theft

  28. Ben Abraham says:

    PASTICHE comes to gaming!!!!! FINALLY!

    Edit: Internet Archive have files on the original geocities webpage from as far back as 2006… 2 year long setup for a hoax? Epic.

    Edit, edit: Just for fun, compare the bit at the start of the latest teaser trailer underwater bit with the Bioshock intro video. The sunset is IDENTICAL even if they have added different water.

  29. ZeeKat says:

    There’s no way it can be true, they superimposed player dude on screens or something, it looks lame with shadow always pointing the same direction etc. No one is that stupid and/or detached from reality to try to sell such ripfest.

  30. Jonathan says:

    Oooooh I think I spotted a new one

    LOWER_REACHES_4_ in the zip file. Isn’t that the shop in Thief 3 zoomed in slightly?

    LOWER_REACHES_14_ and _15_ and _24_ are all from Painkiller.

    Apology if these were spotted on game plasma but the site doesn’t seem to be working.

  31. Lukasz says:

    haha. what a bizarre world.

  32. Malagate says:

    Yes Jonathan, I do believe that the LOWER_REACHES_4_ is the shop in Thief 3, especially as on the shelves on the right of the picture there’s a practice lock for sale. Either best viral marketing ever or a massive case of stupid with the soon to come legal raping of the decade.

  33. The Hammer says:

    Hahaha, they even have UT2004 copied. UT2004!

  34. mark says:

    heh, also noticed on that trailer the coin/medal thing is from baldur’s gate i think? (the golden one with the skull in the middle)

    edit: actually after checking i dont think it is…. very similar though

  35. Ben Abraham says:

    Could this be…. is this really… the new ZOO RACE?

  36. Duncan says:

    Fucking awesome!
    Pissing myself here, cheers guys :-D

  37. Gap Gen says:

    Did these guys have a budget? Because it doesn’t look like they had a budget.

  38. Schadenfreude says:

    The cinematic with the boat seems really familiar. Thought it was Gothic 3 intro at first but I was wrong; can’t find the ending of Gothic 2 though. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    EDIT: Unless that’s one of the things swiped from Pirates of the Caribbean.

  39. Ging says:

    The boat sequence is (I believe) swiped from PotC.

    It’s awesome, they’ve made a meta game out of figuring out which games they’ve stolen from for their game… I think there must be an award due to them for best game design ever.

    If this is a hoax / viral marketing ploy, it’s a really, really long term one.

  40. Jonathan says:

    Amazon’s selling it too. This is either genuine or the best laid hoax ever.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/G2-Games-Limbo-Lost-PC/dp/B000EBREPY/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=videogames&qid=1213275021&sr=8-6

    Theres more intellectual property theft here than in the entire history of sprite comics.

  41. Maximum Fish says:

    That first trailer’s got two or three cutscenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean game by Akella in it too.

    Actually, this cinematics video for PotC has about 1/3 of the “Limbo of the Lost” trailer in it, including the waking up on the beach segment, all the stuff with ships basically and the crab-covered skeleton, which showed up every time you died in Pirates.

    This may already be common knowledge, just about any site relating to this surreal story is totally swamped so i haven’t done too much investigating.

  42. Ryan Lodata says:

    I can assure all of you that what you see is indeed true. My first instinct was the same thing that you guys have commented. “This must be a hoax or my writer photoshopped it” After I did my fact-checking, there was no denying this. I hope you guys have enjoyed the read!

    P.S. Fantastic write-up John

  43. Lukasz says:

    apparently the game rips off silent hill.
    haven’t seen it though…

  44. Mooey Poo says:

    With regards to it being a hoax, I don’t believe it is so. I’m guessing it’s one of those point ‘n clickers with pre-rendered backdrops and a rendered character and shadow. Like all modern low-budget P’nC games.

  45. AbyssUK says:

    The 3d scene are so similar they must have used a straight 3d ripper like this one (http://www.deep-shadows.com/hax/3DRipperDX.htm)
    I bet there so lazy they didn’t even bother to ‘recreate’ the scenes they ripped them straight into 3dmax with textures and everything.. now this is a billion times worse than piracy!

  46. Nick says:

    This is the best games news ever.

  47. Duncan says:

    Cheers for the Amazon link Jonathan – I just had to comment on the review :-D
    Had to be Bovis that wrote it, or maybe one of the other perpetrators.

  48. Mattress says:

    I’ve found a torrent of it! Oh this is going to be great! Heck, how can stealing from them possibly be illegal when they’re thieves themselves?

  49. Paul Moloney says:

    Of course, is it possible that the other games ripped off _them_?

    I think a defence with that level of chutzpah is the only option left to Majestic at this stage.

    There’s an interview here with Steve Bovis which says the same was in development since 1995!

    http://www.justadventure.com/Interviews/Limbo/SteveBovis.shtm

    You kind of wonder what “in development” means, other than “play some games and take some screenshots for, uh, research”.

    P.