By Graham Smith on April 30th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.
I’m an RPS reader as much as a writer, and sometimes one of our contributors writes about a game that I’ve never heard of before but which I can’t wait to play. That was the case with Limbs, a game developed for the recent Cyberpunk Game Jam which Porp picked out in a recent Live Free Play Hard column.
Limbs is like Papers Please, if Papers Please was about checking warranties, comparing barcodes and repairing robot hands. I’ve been playing it and I basically just think it deserves more attention. Maybe you don’t read RPS on Sundays? You can play it free in your browser, or if you need more convincing click below for more details of this futuristic hand job.
The game takes place in front of a technician’s workbench. You click a button and a robot hand comes along, with a warranty and a message from the hand’s owner. They punched a wall, they beat a guy to death, something happened and now their hand is broken. You’re a mechanic in a world of Adam Jensens and JC Dentons and so you get to work. Unscrew the skin, remove the circuit board, replace the shattered fingers.
Each unscrewing and soldering action is performed with a single click, but the methodical precision of dismantling, diagnosing and re-building hands is satisfying like checking documents in Papers Please or making meals in Cook, Serve, Delicious.
Your process becomes more complicated when people start coming in not with broken hands, but with specific tasks they need their hand to perform. Miners, hackers, sculptors; all will need special tools, and you’ll need to check the manual to find which transistors and CPUs to fit. The challenge is to service as many hands correctly as you can in a single day, so these longer jobs are where panic sets in.
Just like Porp, I like the feeling of being on the periphery of a larger world. The messages that come to you with each hand are brief, but they give tiny glimpses of the cyberpunk world that lies beyond your workbench. It’s tantalizing. I had the measure of Limbs in 10 minutes or so – it was made for a jam, after all – but I kept playing and getting better at it because I wanted to experience that world a little longer. I can already see how you might expand it, with new body parts, more detailed glimpses of story and set of meta-objectives. Perhaps you need to make money to feed your robo-family.
I have no idea what its creator, Rezoner, plans for the game, but as long as he splits his time between game jams and soundtracks to an imagined Lotus 4, I’ll be happily following along.