LIMBO (XBox Live Summer of Arcade)

It’s not exactly interactive fiction, but if you’re a 360 owner and a fan of puzzles (the kind that are are progressively more challenging, but rewarding when solved), I highly recommend LIMBO, an XBox 360 downloadable “arcade” game that was just released this past week. It’s not very long (I started it yesterday and beat it today) and at $15 it might not be substantial enough for some, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Many of the puzzles are physics-based. It’s about a little boy traveling through Limbo, and it’s all black and white, flickering, surreal. It’s definitely something unique – something that might appeal to fans of other artsy-type puzzle-ish games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, or maybe Braid (which was another XBLA downloadable). There is no dialogue and no real music – just some moody background sound. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, and I think any fan of IF with a crossover interest in video games would enjoy it as well. Plus, the demo’s free.

BTW, is it anything Coma?

I wonder if it’s a port…

If you liked Coma you should definitely play Nevermore 3, which I think was probably a big inspiration. (It might even have the same game engine, but I’d have to play through Coma again to see the credits.) Nevermore is charming and lighthearted instead of grimdark, which may or may not be a plus but I think the story works much better, and it has a lot more open exploration IMO (I find Coma pretty linear).

These are both browser games, by the way.

well, I wouldn’t consider a skinny dark figure or bones and skulls everywhere exactly charming, what’s wrong with people’s aesthetics these days?

I played Coma for a chance, but being a console guy (and an IF type), I find most flash or social games depressingly shallow and pointless. Beautiful perhaps, but far too little. These 2 in particular remind us of the ancient classics Prince of Persia and Another World, except they share nothing of the ingenious puzzles and challenges…

I think they are a reflection of a much more stupid and shallow society.

There was a brief hub-bub in the wake of Limbo about indie games being content-over-gameplay. Specifically, they thought Limbo was the next Braid, and had a great fling with it, but the morning after they wake up and think, “Hey, it’s just a by-the-numbers puzzler that looks pretty. What gives?”

While I wouldn’t go so far as to blame the decay of society, I do find many indie games being shallow and/or highly derivative of Mario.

::shrug:: I’m sure Limbo’s a fine game, but I don’t think it’ll be a classic or anything.

Complaining about the lack of challenging gameplay in Nevermore 3 is like complaining about the slipshod characterization in Tetris. It’s just not that kind of game. (It also has one skull and crossbones in the initial screen and one toward the very end.)

For that matter, the lack of challenging gameplay isn’t the problem with Coma – it’s that it offers the illusion of exploration while being incredibly linear, and relies on grimdark and obscurantism instead of actually having something to say. I like Nevermore 3 because it lets me explore a world without putting me through a lot of twitch challenges.

I haven’t played Limbo, but from what I’ve heard it basically has nothing to do with either of these games – for one thing, in the other games you can’t die and if you miss a jump you just have to go through some of the map again.

I would describe Limbo’s gameplay as “trial and death” (as opposed to trial and error) - you die constantly and often unfairly, but it restarts you no more than 5 seconds back from wherever you were, so you lose no time at all. It’s a fascinating game.