Wot I Think: Limbo

By John Walker on August 3rd, 2011 at 4:17 pm.

Those white eyes - the ultimate staring eyes.

Limbo came out for PC yesterday, available via Steam for £7. Having never played the 360 version (despite paying for it – I’m an idiot) I’ve played it through for the first time and am ready to tell you just exactly Wot it is that I Think.

Limbo, as it happens, falls into the space between many things. It is both a beautiful and horrifying game. It is at once immensely simple and intricately complex. It both plays wonderfully on the PC, and is a horrendously insufficient port.

Originally released for the 360 in July last year, its reputation is long sealed. Winning numerous awards, being recognised as one of the best Xbox Live Arcade games ever, and sold over half a million copies in 2010. Which isn’t bad for a two-hour indie game. But what exactly is it?

What I think I love most about Limbo is its faux-simplicity. It’s a side-scrolling platformer, but even that description sounds too busy and over-involved to capture the essence of the game. Painted in soft-focused silhouetted black and white, sitting squarely between the design of World Of Goo and those weird Eastern European cartoons you’d see on BBC 2 at 4am, its delicacy is breathtaking. Your goal? Run from left to right. The reason? Unknown. (There’s some nonsense about finding your sister in descriptions, but the game certainly doesn’t trouble you with this at the start.)

There are a great many wonderful indie platformers around at the moment, and each defines itself with its unique gimmick. Perhaps you reverse time, or invert dimensions, or gain new skills. In Limbo you’re the same near-helpless boy throughout, with keys to move, and one button to use. Instead it’s how you interact with the levels that changes. But it’s always simply about progressing from left to right, never with a purpose, and increasingly that begins to feel like the purpose.

Its silent opening is unsettling. What looks like a completely empty scene, some grass in front of the sky, ghosts of trees in the distance, in fact contains a boy lying in the grass. But it’s a surprisingly length of time before this is revealed, and it’s something that works almost as well as it doesn’t. In film and television it would be extremely evocative, as in those mediums I’m a willingly passive non-participant. So it’s only to some extent that works here. Because which of us isn’t used to staring at a frozen game wondering if it’s crashed or just loading, before Alt-Tabbing and Ctrl-Alt-Deleting to try to get a working PC back? Perhaps this is more appropriate for the 360 where crashing is at least less usual.

But this past, it’s hard to level a single criticism at the game. Which is remarkable. The difficulty curve, as you explore to solve each area’s challenges, is so precise, so perfect, that it feels sentient. The timing of so many moments is exquisite, objects falling away just as you leap past them, the rare enemies appearing with fear-inducing precision. The checkpointing is almost always right, with just two occasions where repeating a more boring sequence requires repetition, and it’s only at the very end that the puzzles become truly mystifying. Before then they are instead something much more important: they’re interesting. Limbo is serenely beautiful, and simultaneously horrifically unsettling.

If you never played it through on 360, as indeed I did not, then I do not want to take away from the moments of horror that occur. Instead I’ll talk around them. At first I found the character’s nonchalance to the world or events to be disappointing. I made a note on my pad reading, “In Ico there’s a sense of the boy’s fear.” (Ico feels like an appropriate comparison, and while Limbo is shorter, and I would argue not quite as brilliant, it owes an awful lot to the 2001 classic.) But as I progressed I began to realise that ambivalence is part of the ghastliness that begins to envelop the game. It’s deeply chilling. It doesn’t matter how gloomy or pessimistic the game feels from the very beginning – it won’t prepare you for what barely happens.

More obviously gruesome are the deaths. A shadow falling on a spinning blade shouldn’t be this terrible to see. It’s incredible how horrible they’ve managed to make such scenes, down to the black shadows of entrails flinging out of your mutilated body. It’s not exactly the sort of thing you expect from a platformer, is it? And that’s not to mention that spider.

But the role death plays is more interesting. Commonly games rooted in solving puzzles are criticised for not being possible to solve without dying first. It’s a failing that perturbs me. But Limbo does something strange with this. Just at the point where the accusation could be reasonably levelled, it presents you with a sequence that’s nothing but pure defiance. Two blocks are suspended in the sky, and under each is what looks like might be a large button. If you proceed a certain way under the first block it falls on you and kills you. So you start the sequence over, do it correctly, and run to the second. Again you repeat the safe technique and it drops on you and kills you. The only way past this second block would be the method that kills you on the first. It’s deliberately impossible to know without trial and error – the game is messing with you. It wants you to be dying. Such experiences are all part of the overall looming oppression that is Limbo.

This non-stop gush of praise does rather come to an end when it comes to the PC porting, however. While the game plays perfectly, sadly there appears to have been almost deliberately unhelpful effort put into the options for this version. It’s not the sort of port where everything’s left in 360-speak. While it works very well with the PC’s 360 controller, new graphics have been created to show you the keyboard layout. It’s just that… you can’t change these. And they’re assigned to the arrow keys and Ctrl to ‘use’. First of all, that’s back to front to how most people are used to operating games these days, and there’s no option to switch to WASD. But worse, using Up for jump is a horrible control mechanism, and certainly not one implemented in the 360 version. Use a controller and of course jump is assigned to the A button. There’s no option to reassign it to your other hand for the keyboard.

The display options are equally barren. There’s not even the ability to change resolution, let alone run the game in a window. At least it task-switches smoothly and quickly, which is a small blessing I suppose. Quite why the game should be dumped on PC so flippantly is mysterious. The game’s been out for a year – this isn’t a rush job. But it’s impossible not to be annoyed by how cursory the efforts have been.

Of course, you forget you were bothered by that once you start playing, because this is undoubtedly one of the smartest, most evocative platform games in recent years. Its use of sound alone is outstanding, and describing that would be almost as much of a spoiler as explaining the solution to a puzzle.

It’s £7 on Steam, which is significantly cheaper than the 1200 points you’ll still pay for the Xbox version. While not a long game, and certainly not one that offers much value in playing more than once, it’s of such exceptional quality that it remains entirely worth it.

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131 Comments »

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  1. OpT1mUs says:

    Fuck Blizzard!

  2. smi1ey says:

    I enjoyed the first half of this game, but felt that the last half really dragged on… all they way up until the sudden ending, which felt like it came several hours too soon.

    It’s still a great game, just very short.

  3. Ultra Superior says:

    Bravo, John.

  4. l4wl says:

    man I was so glad when the spider part was over…

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      I relaxed alot after it was over, found myself able to skip and jump through the next few areas as pleasently as one is possible to in such a motif.

      I was hoping something else would show up and stalk me relentlessly =(

    • l4wl says:

      yeah that’s true.
      I expected a return of those child tribes… kinda thought they had something to with the sister disappearing. but I guess that would’ve been to straightforward for the game.

    • deadsexy says:

      Me too. But the way it ended for the spider was pretty gruesome. I felt bad for doing this.

  5. JuJuCam says:

    Point of information: I believe the inert opening resolves itself as soon as you make any attempt to manipulate your input device. Or when you’ve waited a sufficiently long time.

    • colinmarc says:

      I feel like revealing that (not what you said, but John bringing it up in the review) is a spoiler. That was something that immediately really impressed (oppressed) me in the game.

    • qrter says:

      I think you’re getting a bit too sensitive there – John has to give some idea what the game is like, some idea of what exactly impresses him about the game.

      This sounds like the very slightiest of slightest of possible spoilers to me.

  6. Sweetz says:

    While I agree that not being able to reconfigure the controls is annoying (although this is a game that you really should play with a 360 pad anyway), complaints about not being able to switch resolution seems somewhat petty.

    Being a game with 2D graphics only, resolution doesn’t make much difference. As is, the game will simply run at whatever your desktop res is, which should hopefully be your native res – and what possible reason could you want for running it at a lower res? I don’t really see a practical argument for needing to change resolution with this game, so I think it’s fine that it omits that option.

    • Meneth says:

      For windowed mode, of course.

      That is, if it even has that.

    • Sweetz says:

      IMHO, running windowed would be so detrimental to the experience that I can’t fathom why you’d want to do it. This is a game that should command 100% of your attention. If you’re not immersing yourself in it’s oppressive and brilliantly designed atmosphere then you’re just playing an ok puzzle game. I don’t find running windowed to be something that you should need or even want to do with the game.

      I believe inability to remap the controls is the only practically worthwhile criticism of it’s port. As such, I find calling the game a “horrendously insufficient port” is hyperbole bordering on irresponsibility for a professional journalist.

    • qwiggalo says:

      What? How is it a game that should be played on a controller? I don’t even…

    • Vorrin says:

      +1 on the ‘why should this be played with a 360 controller’, as far as I could see, there was no need of analogic nothing, just left, right, up, down and a couple of buttons, as we always used to play them good old platform games, without any problem whatsoever.

      Then dunno, maybe it gets harder further on (from the demo), I remember wondering whether a controller would marginally help in Meatboy, but that’s quite the hardcore platformer.

    • Zyrxil says:

      An analog joystick with a throw distance (distance between center and edge) Hurts with precise platforming. It’s mystifying why the SMB devs recommended one.

      For anyone who wants to run it in a window, DXWnd works with it:
      http://appaholic.co.uk/2007/10/16/dxwnd-force-almost-anything-into-a-windowed-mode/
      http://appaholic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/dxwnd.7z

      Use the E menu to (A)dd the the Limbo.exe, then use E->(R)un.

      Running in a window also bypasses a 60hz refresh lock, for people still running CRTs.

      For custom controls, there is apparently a config file that can be edited. I personally am using AutoHotKey. Download it, install it, right click the tray icon to edit the current script to change keys, then save and rightclick the icon to reload. I’m currently using:

      NumpadUp::Up
      NumpadLeft::Left
      NumpadRight::Right
      NumpadDown::Down
      F::Ctrl

    • Sweetz says:

      Regarding why it should be played with a controller – yeah I guess that one is fairly subjective on my part. FWIW, a controller just feels more immersive to me in this game. Pushing a stick right to move right is more engaging than pressing a key to move right. And I can’t pull a keyboard up to my chest and huddle in when I’m tense like I can with a gamepad. In my opinion, it’s simply a better experience with a gamepad – but I guess I can’t make a more concrete argument that. In any case, like I said, I do believe the inability to remap keyboard controls is a legitimate complaint with the port anyway.

    • Howl says:

      It never ceases to amaze me how people can dish out thousands on top of the range gaming PC’s and then get funny about input devices. Someone who was willing to shell out a packet for a decent PC should have all input devices, including a decent wheel and an arcade fight stick to play all games as their developers intended. To be honest, real gamers (who had that kind of money) would have all the gaming platforms anyway so they didn’t miss out on any must-play titles and wouldn’t even be complaining about controllers.

      LImbo is a great game. It’s standard platform/puzzle fare but the art and sound make it a real experience from start to finish, especially the use of sound in the hidden section to get the “Ding” achievement. You’re basically controlling a pair of eyes on a black screen and navigating razor blade death with your ears.

    • Wulf says:

      People who insist on fullscreen gaming for ‘atmosphere’ (solely for that reason) confuse me. I mean, your monitor itself is a window in another reality, why is it bad to play the game in a window when your monitor is already a window?

    • Premium User Badge

      bear912 says:

      Resolution, controls, and windowed mode can now be reconfigured in the settings.txt document in steamapps/common/limbo folder.

  7. KikYu0 says:

    how long is “not a long game”

  8. Premium User Badge

    Lakshmi says:

    I’m glad I read this first. I almost bought this yesterday, but I could never play with those controls. I’d snap it up if they ever became editable, mind.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      In the article yesterday abotu it being on steam, someone mention being able to remap ACTION to whatever by going into config files.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lakshmi says:

      Ahh cheers – I shall go have a look.

    • StormTec says:

      You could never play with a control system utilising the arrow keys and a single other button?

    • Baka says:

      settings.txt in the main game directory

    • Premium User Badge

      Lakshmi says:

      @StormTec not everyone has the same mobility. Thanks Baka.

    • noodlecake says:

      Um…. Buy a 360 controller? The fact that you go on RPS suggest that you’re somewhat into gaming and probably have been for some time. Some games are just more suited to controllers anyway. :/

    • Ovno says:

      Indeed they are, but this is not Teken…

    • Premium User Badge

      Lakshmi says:

      @noodlecake It’s fine, now I know how to edit the keys.

  9. Jockie says:

    Was gifted this by a rather generous chap yesterday and got half-way through, I kind of love the trial and error design of the puzzles. The fact is you know you’re going to have to do something you really don’t want to, so you can figure out the puzzles (testing the limits of the first spider encounter for instance).

    *Minor Spoilers*

    There’s a catharsis too in the way situations are reversed. The puzzle you mention above is turned into a weapon once you understand it. The way the spider situation plays out is disturbing and satisfying too.

  10. Buemba says:

    I didn’t like it very much, to be honest. Outside of the visual feast (And what a feast it is) I found the vast majority of puzzles very uninteresting, and the only one I found challenging was one near the end where I didn’t notice I could interact with a part of the scenery.

    The best puzzles make me feel ridiculously smart and creative for figuring them out, but outside of one particular box puzzle and the final challenge I never felt that way while playing Limbo. As far as indie games go I think this one is closer to something like The Path (An interesting experience wrapped in unremarkable mechanics) than Braid (A game that I would have enjoyed even if you stripped it of its graphics, sound and story).

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      Ah, the curse of making something accessible. ^_^

      I agree that everything is pretty straightforward, but thats proobably because we’re experienced in such things. Newbier people who havent been jumping over pendulous swinging spike traps for so long thaty its nearly an autonomous reflex will feel much cleverer than we do.

    • Ragnar says:

      I felt sort of the same way playing the demo. The graphics are beautiful, but the gameplay didn’t impress me. I think the repetitive trial-and-error nature put me off. The game loves to kill you, but that just depressed me, making me feel like I’m the worst player ever.

  11. skyturnedred says:

    Gotta love the pricing again for us using €.

    • Kossak says:

      that’s why i don’t buy it. Fuck limbo, at least until it drops 75% in price :)

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      PoulWrist says:

      Well, that’s why you don’t buy anything on steam when it’s not on sale or if you’re somehow very wealthy :p

    • zeroskill says:

      Being able to afford a 10€ game is being wealthy? Uh…

  12. Pemptus says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URcvdDtnM_0

    Felt appropriate somehow.

    • drlemon says:

      I was gonna post that on the “Best Endings” comment thread. Then i didn’t.

    • binster says:

      Take it away, Rita baby!

      (and then HORROR OUT OF NOWHERE)

  13. Premium User Badge

    Ham Solo says:

    I don’t know, I am used to the “up is jump” thing, from Soldat and other 2D plattformers.
    Anyway, I bought it and had fun playing through it.

  14. Nicholas Totton says:

    Dam it. I was so looking forward to this game, but reading about the controls just kept me from buying this. Why is it so god dam hard for these people to make a competent PC port. Were not asking them to make an entirely new game.

  15. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    Sounds like the same sort of port issues that happened with Braid (and maybe Super Meat Boy?). If lack of resolution choice and inability to remap the buttons are the main gripes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    However, I agree that mapping the up key to jump is just bizarre and I thought in the past society disposed of anyone who did that.

    • Zanchito says:

      Mapping jumping to an arrow key is really necessary in Limbo, you’ll find out why later in the game.

  16. JoWoo says:

    I actually quite liked the sparse number of options and other fiddleables in the game, especially since the game just ran so beautifully with no fuss whatsoever, defaulting to my native resolution and such. Normally such a lack of customisation options would really annoy me, but in this case I just wanted to play, with no fussing.

    Having said that, the up key for jump issue is definitely a valid one. It doesn’t make any sense at all and led to quite a lot of unnecessary deaths and swearing on my part.

    Also, ladders on wheels are more evil than Stalin’s cat.

    • Zogtee says:

      How can you like not having options in a game? Not being bothered by it, sure, but actually liking it? How does that work?

    • qwiggalo says:

      “derp”

    • Urthman says:

      It always pulls me right out of the game when I hit “ESC” and a menu comes up allowing me to configure stuff. It just ruins the whole experience.

      More games where I can hammer the ESC key as much as I want without interrupting the game!

  17. gb056 says:

    controls can be edited in the settings.txt file. Simply remove the # from each line in the 2nd section and then both control sets are usable.

  18. magnus says:

    I don’t know about you lot but to me the use of sound in Limbo is very similar to the Eraserhead soundtrack, which is a most definite plus for me.

  19. Shadrach says:

    I think the “two hours short” thing is wrong, at least for me… I guess others must be members of the Mensa problem-solving club, or I am missing quite a few brain cells, because I’m on my 3rd hour and I guess about half-way. Still enjoying it a lot too.

    • StranaMente says:

      You are probably about the end, you’ll discover.

    • DarkByke says:

      I play slower too. I love exploring every section I can, taking in the visuals :)

  20. Dana says:

    Too pretentious for me. The puzzling and platforming parts are very easy and simplistic as its the whole gameplay. This game is basically all about art style and ‘atmosphere’.

    • runtheplacered says:

      I’m not sure most people know what ‘pretentious’ means when they use it. How was the game making unjustified claims about itself? I’m not even sure it’s automatically ‘bad’ to be pretentious, anyway.

      I think of that word as something people use when they don’t really know how else to vent their dislike of something. Sort of a crutch, if you will.

    • skyturnedred says:

      Normally when people say a game is pretentious, I understand it as them thinking it’s being artsy just for being artsy.

    • Urthman says:

      “It looks cool” =/= pretentious.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aninhumer says:

      @runtheplacered
      The allegedly unjustified claim is that it is meaningful, which is considered to be implied by it being arty.

  21. Theory says:

    The lack of any explanation of the controls destroyed much of the demo for me. After much left/right arrow frustration with the first puzzle (if you can call it a puzzle) I had to turn the lights back on and use Google to discover that there was a grab button the game hadn’t told me about. I spent ages on the crate-and-water puzzle trying to grab the box and use it to stay afloat, something that isn’t actually possible…and then, once I had turned to Google again and backtracked to the correct path, I had to spend even more time working out that grab allows you to swing on a rope.

    What really bothers me is that not telling the player how to interact wasn’t an oversight but a deliberate act of hubris. It hasn’t left me with much goodwill.

    • Vorrin says:

      Personally, I quite like being left to discover controls and the combinations of them by myself, at least when the game is really simple like in this case.
      All in all, it was just the one button, CTRL, one of the very standardest ‘action’ buttons in any game using the arrows.

      True that you don’t get any feedback if you push it whilst away from an interactive object, but still, I much prefer being left to mess around with stuff and find my way/the controls, than having a lengthy tutorial explaining every last thing (boring) or reading the FM (boring)…

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      How long could a tutorial or an FM be for Limbo, though? A simple splash screen having the (very) simple controls would be sufficient, or if they want to get fancy they can have a floating text box pop up as soon as you encounter a situation where you need to learn a new key.

      Basic controls isn’t something that should be left for the player to “discover”. Neat in theory, but for plenty of people it’s really quite annoying, and it’s not like Limbo would need a lengthy tutorial or anything otherwise.

    • Vorrin says:

      Dunno, I’m pretty old school, and usually for me it works that I try all the default buttons as soon as the game starts/becomes interactive. If that doesn’t yield the results I hope, or if I have the feeling I might not know all the controls yet, I’ll usually go in the options and check for the controls.

      I much see your point, ie. floating tip once you find a situation that requires you to use a button, I think it’s quite an ok solution, although personally I often also find it a bit annoying as it kills my suspension of disbelief (where there is any, at least).

  22. Demiath says:

    I know what Limbo is, and why it’s supposed to be good. Still, seeing yet another endearingly existential side-scrolling indie-developed puzzle platformer makes me want to go to strangle a kitten or something. There are good practical reasons for a small development team to focus their limited resources on making this kind of a game (among other things, 2D puzzle games usually don’t need complex AI or advanced polygonal graphics), but to me the only thing worse than commercial clichés (such as yearly Call of Duties or AssCreeds) are artistic clichés, and that’s definitely what this subgenre has become at this point.

    • JFS says:

      Zombies?

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      I agree somewhat and most of them are hyped as the best/cleverest/most creative 2D platformers of the year.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I definitely agree with that. The sophomoric level of sophistication in Braid is a great example. The writing almost ruined the rest of pretty fun platformer for me.

  23. Crainey says:

    Doing a playthrough of this game whilst recording and uploading it to Youtube at the moment (/wreckingnoobs) currently about 3/5 the way through I guess after playing for just over an hour, it’s very good. I can defintely see why it won all the awards it did and it totally deserves all the praise it gets, the art style using the silhouette’s is very nice (although sometimes annoying when jumping onto spikes thinking it were blades of grass) along with excellent sound.

  24. DrGonzo says:

    I wish it was as good a game as it looked. I enjoyed it, and persisted because it’s so beautiful. But if it wasn’t I would have hated it. When John mentions the insta death as an interesting thing I was a bit baffled as I thought that was awful. You should never kill the player for doing what you are implying is the solution. The game was full of it, you die every five seconds and have to repeat stuff constantly which is not fun at all.

    I would still reccomend it though as it really is a fantastic animation, just a bit of a poo game.

    • UncleLou says:

      You should never kill the player for doing what you are implying is the solution. The game was full of it, you die every five seconds

      That’s just not true, at least it wasn’t for me. Yeah, you die, and a few times (particularly the one mentioned in the article) it’s as good as inevitable, but (a bit like Demon’s Souls, really, in that respect), the game rewards it if you’re careful and a bit patient.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      I think you were just inferring that the game was implying the solution.
      What was implied was “THIS IS A TRAP”, In the Tricksy-crusher-fakeout if you looked very closely you could tell what was ground and what was a switch, through a very faint slope and bumps.

      Death is suppsoed to constantly loom and keep you on edge. it is a dark, hostile world of things that want you dead, not professor pigglewags magical flying adventure

    • Ragnar says:

      If death is overused, it stops being a threat, loses its edge, and becomes an annoyance.

  25. The Innocent says:

    Really enjoyed this game. I think I’ll go back and replay it periodically.

    SPOILERS!

    Sadly, the last third or so wasn’t half so enjoyable as the first bits. The parts that really stand out to me were the early spider and child village moments, and the first bit exploring the city. Once the game surrendered much of its terrifying organic aesthetic and was about exploring the innards of a clock, I spent most of my time waiting for the scary stuff to come back. And then it was over.

    • Miker says:

      *SPOILERS*

      I completely agree. The final third of the game, in the factory/clock, was pure puzzling, and offered little in the way of atmosphere and “moments” like the previous two-thirds. It didn’t help that the puzzles in the final third required timing and dexterity moreso than earlier puzzles, and seemed to involve more trial and error. I would go so far as to say that the last third actually dragged down my opinion of the game as a whole.

  26. Lexino says:

    I didn’t know Ceefax are weird Eastern European cartoons, because thats what at BBC2 at 4am

    • Fwiffo says:

      You’re failing to account for a night’s consumption of absinthe and honey nut loops.

  27. zeroskill says:

    Review is spot on, also, luckily, I never played this before, and I never watched a LP on it, secretly hoping it will eventually make its way on the PC, which it did in the end. I am enjoying it very much, its a gem for sure.

  28. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Even my wife liked this. And she is not interested

    • Laneford says:

      Yeah this is definitely a game you can show to ‘people-wot-don’t-like-games’ ™

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Yeah, I doubt it. Seeing a child in a desolate and exaggeratedly gloomy world die repeatedly in incredibly gruesome ways won’t convert many “non-believers” into video games. Most all are turned off of videogames by the comical amounts of violence in the first place.

  29. Laurentius says:

    I’m sorry but this stinks for me BIG TIME, not being able to custom control keys for PC, first SBM now this ? I was playing platformers on PC all my life (starting from Prehistorik 2 ) on numeric keypad arrows, it’s the only way my brain and hand know, can’t change now. Sorry Limbo no money from me.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      You cant hack your brain to function three inches Down and Left?
      If you were physically unable to use those buttons somehow i would understand outrage. This is just you being lazy.
      you have not earnt the right to re-map keys, you are crippled by your reliance on a single configuration.
      Master all inputs, and master yourself!

    • Laurentius says:

      Lazy ? Hardly, just being comfotable with this kind of controls for years, it’s especially important playing platformers. Anyway, it can be changed, one has to manually edit cfg file, now talk about programers being LAZY, adding such option ingame would be like couple lines of codes…

    • Zyrxil says:

      The keypad is a significantly different shape than the arrow keys (especially on MS Natural keyboards) and has a nub on the Key5, just like the home row keys.

      Laurentius, if you don’t know about AutoHotKey, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. A surprising number of indie platformers don’t recognize the numpad arrows, but AutoHotKey lets you rebind any keyboard button to any other button (as well as run much more complex scripts).

      Download it, install it, right click the tray icon to edit the current script to:

      NumpadUp::Up
      NumpadLeft::Left
      NumpadRight::Right
      NumpadDown::Down

      then rightclick the tray icon to reload the script.

    • Urthman says:

      you have not earnt the right to re-map keys

      What a pretentious, obnoxious, self-entitled comment.

      Do you see this long list of awesome games in my Steam list? That means your game has to dance–DANCE! FOR MY AMUSEMENT!–if you want my money. Right now I’m looking for excuses not to buy games, and you just gave me one.

    • Laurentius says:

      Hey thanks Zyrxil, it actually works sweet.

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      LaunchJC says:

      “Master all inputs, and master yourself!”

      I was all against you until this.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Oh god, that spider.
    Nobody said anything about spiders… :(

  31. Owain_Glyndwr says:

    I reckon Limbo is one of those games we can push foward as part of the “games are art” argument.
    Still not keen on playing it again though- if it is beautiful, it’s beautiful in a horribly twisted way. I don’t think we get anything out of it other than squalid darkness.
    Not to say that it’s a bad game.

  32. Danny252 says:

    I was a bit disappointed by Limbo – for all the hype, I really didn’t find it that scary. That’s probably because after umpteen deaths and doing the same puzzle over and over, dying was just an FPS-style “oh @#!£, again?” – the spider isn’t so bad when you know exactly where he’ll step or just when he’ll disappear.

    I also didn’t find that it was giving me any will to try and get through it, either – the Portals and HL’s physics puzzles might send me off in a huff after a few tries, but I would always end up being unable to let go, thinking it through, and coming back half an hour later exclaiming “eureka!”. Limbo came out as more of a “Can I really be bothered to try and get that jump timed perfectly another twenty times?”.

    • Ragnar says:

      Agreed entirely. It seems like a beautiful game in a beautiful (if depressing and haunting) world, but the repetitive gameplay focused on split second timing put me off. As someone who was never able to make it even half-way through the Mega Man 9 demo, Limbo involved so many “ok, let’s try that jump again” moments that the wonder of the world and graphics faded away.

  33. Daniel Is I says:

    Limbo was a rather… unsettling experience for me. The real genius of the game lies in the atmosphere that it creates for itself.

    There’s a short sequence very early on that made me stop and stare at what had just happened. You walk along and find a child like yourself sitting on the ground. As you approach, his head moves slightly. I assumed it was a monster in disguise, so I had prepared to dodge whatever I thought it would throw at me. What I was not prepared for was the floor giving out, dropping you down and hanging the other child, leaving you with more questions than answers:

    What just happened? Was that kid dead or alive? If he was alive, am I the one truly responsible for his death? Was it just a scared, trapped child or did he intentionally tie the noose around his neck, simply waiting for someone to break the floor? If he was dead, who killed him? Will he try to kill me?

    • Jody Macgregor says:

      I thought that boy was a puppet, set up to lure me into a trap by those vile little turds with the blowdarts. I really enjoyed hating those Lord of the Flies brats and was a bit disappointed when they vanished out of the game.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    I’m confused by what is so wrong with up being jump. I didn’t even realise this was an issue until reading it here. Certainly didn’t have any issues playing this like that for about an hour last night.

    I reached about half-way (19th block on the chapter screen) and enjoyed what I played so far. I do feel that the trail and error nature of the game gets a bit grating after awhile and can’t applaud it as a positive. Outside of that it is charming, haunting, fairly smart and with a nice difficulty curve.

  35. terry says:

    It’s fun but I’m increasingly put off by the timing-based puzzles, especially ones that take a while after respawning to give you another chance. The cheap “press this button to not die/don’t press this next button to not die” bits and pieces don’t bother me so much because the checkpoints are pretty merciful. It’s nicely atmospheric, however.

  36. Eclipse says:

    mmmm…. wow, up for jumping? seriously?
    luckily I got one of those xbox 360 pads… even if it’s a shitty pad to play platformers in (that dpad is a joke, analog sticks aren’t that good either)

  37. passingstranger says:

    I’m not sure entirely where I stand on the game’s treatment of story. I knew the one line premise from the beginning, so I never had that feeling of a lack of purpose or reason for being there. However, I don’t think Limbo is averse to that.

    The game’s treatment of environments, puzzles, and enemies seems very deliberately reminiscent of a nightmare. The enemies are faceless and have no discernible reasoning behind their actions, but they want to kill you. The world doesn’t always seem logical, but it wants to kill you. You don’t know why you have to keep going right, but you know that you absolutely must. You are never allowed to have contact with another person and the prospect is sometimes dangled in front of you out of pure spite.

    The game doesn’t hate you, but it features a world that does. It’s a very important distinction.

    I think the big slip up is that the ending loses a whole lot of its impact without context. Going any further would be treading close to spoilers, but I found it very powerful. That one line of story, if given within the game, would feel very out of place given the cold and lonely tone, but it is also necessary to fully appreciate it.

    (And a quick note: The boy opens his eyes at the beginning the second the player hits a key. I would imagine it’s there to forcibly draw attention to the fact that he is waking up and it’s mirrored later in the game.)

  38. Juiceman says:

    If people were really disappointed at having to use the arrow keys you need to get over yourself, right now. No wonder people call PC gamers obnoxiously elitist.

    • Zyrxil says:

      I think you’re lost. Gametrailers forums are over that-a-way.

    • Ragnar says:

      It’s simply going against the common design standard. For a console equivalent, imagine if Limbo on Xbox required using the shoulder buttons to move Left / Right, and you had to push Up on the D-pad to jump. It’s playable, but it is a foreign control scheme, sub-optimal, and not what gamers expect.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      You know, the fact that people pick the PC in the first place is because they like to tweak the game to their own liking, from mods to graphical fidelity settings to controls. The fact that controls are completely static goes perfectly against what PC gamers expect out of a game.

      Though I do find it sad I have to explain why PC gamers want custom key maps in the first place. This is a PC gaming site. You should know the basics by now.

    • passingstranger says:

      I don’t know if I’d agree that it’s sub-optimal. I don’t think there’s any real loss of precision and there’s no case where you need to be pressing more than 2 of the movement buttons at any given time. I think it’s actually more comfortable as there are sizable sections where the interact button isn’t necessary, so you can control the game perfectly well with just one hand.

      Comparing it to being forced to use shoulder buttons for movement is a bit much. It should absolutely be assignable, but it’s not even close to unusable as it is.

    • Juiceman says:

      ROFL @ foreign control scheme. Arrow keys have been in use for a long time, kid.

      Thank you for proving my point, everyone. I knew the snobby pc community wouldn’t let me down.

    • zeroskill says:

      If you cant edit a simple .ini file you should stop playing PC games right this instance and go to consoles.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      @Juiceman: I think you’re a troll. It was quite clear he found up-arrow as jump unsettling.

      @zeroskill: I wasn’t aware that editing ini files was a primary pastime of gamers? It’s a fair criticism that the controls modification is awkward, even if many can easily get around it, with some googling, and faffing about.

  39. Snuffy the Evil says:

    I enjoyed it very much, although there are a few puzzles that seemed counterintuituve to solve, mostly involving the gravity-shifting puzzles.

    One had a switch that looked like a part of the environment.

    Another involved juggling two boxes moving different distances- the catch was that I couldn’t see one of the boxes, had magnets that operated differently from what I had expected, and the difference in distances was fairly small.

    Yet another involved switching gravity in midair and using your momentum to clear an obstacle. The first time I did it, I did it the right way but in the wrong direction, which actually killed my momentum. The second time I “solved” it by getting past the cutscene trigger without using the switch, but it didn’t activate and I was mauled by a saw.

    Overall, they’re small niggles, and I really enjoyed Limbo for what it was. The atmosphere is dank and oppressive, but in a good way. The aesthetic made the game- without it, I would say Limbo is just average.

  40. GTRichey says:

    Bought this and haven’t played it yet, hearing how little effort went into porting it makes me almost regret purchasing though since I don’t really like the idea of supporting this type of development. I guess I’ll just enjoy it anyway and assume that the lack of effort is due to the small team and not laziness (it isn’t like even major studios put all that much effort into console to PC ports so coming from an indie studio I guess you can’t complain).

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      It’s not THAT bad. Sure, you have to enter a config file to customize your key bindings, but it runs flawlessly- defaulting to my native resolution and everything. And for such a small and light game, it’s not like you need to adjust graphics settings or anything.

      It’s not like GTA IV, where Steam was giving people refunds.

  41. Navagon says:

    Sounds good. Very good. I don’t mind using a 360 controller for platformers so that’s not a problem.

  42. Jody Macgregor says:

    If that cart/electrified floor puzzle in chapter 19 is driving you mad, here’s something you need to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTRrmTYMSNA

  43. drlemon says:

    Why is everyone saying this is a lazy port??? It’s the exact same game. You can’t customize controls on xbox, why is it such a big issue here? I’m about a third into the game, and i don’t see a single problem with the controls.

  44. Greengrassblueskies says:

    I personally have no problems with games that count on the player dying hundreds of times and learning through those deaths. Some of my favorite games have been all about memorizing a path through deadly hazards (Rick Dangerous, etc.).

  45. _PixelNinja says:

    The game somewhat reminds me of Heart Of Darkness — if anybody remembers that one.

    • Camerooni says:

      Woot thanks.. I was just about to post this if I got to the end of the comments and it hadn’t been mentioned.

      Heart of Darkness is great, and every time I see Limbo I think of that.. I still think it’s superior as it was a game with a story rather than an art project. Plus Eric Chahi is awesome.

  46. Kamos says:

    I agree that this game has a fantastic atmosphere. In truth, I did not think it was so much a “game”, and I did not think “oh, I’m playing a platformer”. None of the “platformer skillz” parts of my brain flared up. Yet it was compelling and I also felt the urge to keep going from left to right, perhaps to find out more about the “tribe” and whether that damn spider would be coming back to bother me.

  47. jimbonbon says:

    As much as I don’t enjoy not being able to customise the game, as you get further into the game the use of the arrow keys does actually seem to make sense – i.e. in that they are truly directional. This actually (probably) adds a little bit of extra challenge/confusion over the 360 version.

    Otherwise, really enjoyed the game. Completed in just under three hours and only found one of the hidden achievements, so a couple more plays to find some more – seems worth £6.99 to me!

  48. 3lbFlax says:

    The word ‘limbo’ is derived from the Latin ‘limbus’, or ‘edge’. I’m just putting this information out there in case anyone can use it.

  49. sacred_flame101 says:

    The demo was really uninspiring. i found the puzzles too easy and the constant death irritating.

    I suppose what i want to know id does it get better once you have passed the bland demo section of the game? Also Where is this scary atmosphere that i keep hearing about does it become more obvious and petulant later in he game?

    For those who don’t know where the demo stops, it ends once i have taken off the spiders legs with the bear trap, gone into the lair and the spider grabs you.

  50. sacred_flame101 says:

    thanks for that . I want to like it but it just wont let me.

    Edit: Reply fail. in responce to AndrewC above