Having just finished Limbo I’ve just decided to start writing about it. Across the next two weeks, I’ll write two editorials on both how Limbo is a gutsy game and how it proves some gamer ideologies wrong. I’ll get into that but what I want to share today is just some quick afterthoughts on Limbo. I finished it just literal minutes ago.
WARNING. MASSIVE SPOILERS. WARNING. MASSIVE. SPOILERS.
In my opinion, the ending started as something completely amazing. Just the shock and awe of bursting from the industrial palace and into the wilderness, I could tell that he had broken through Limbo. What happened however was something completely different. I was expecting something to happen but instead what happened was something remarkable. For the first time, in a long long time, a gamer made me on the verge of tears. It’s never happened before, but I was on the verge because of what the developer had set up.
All they needed to do was pull off that set-up, which they didn’t.
What I guess, from after you burst through the wall, and the little boy twinkles his eyes was that the game was completely cyclical. That the boy would be trapped in Limbo forever, and as I started wandering around, I noticed a lot of similarities to the beginning of the game. When I wandered left, however, it opened up to a little pond. I never thought to wander left at the beginning of the game, and now that I was thinking about it, perhaps the same pond was there.
So, the developers would have instead of having a giant crux of an abrupt story moment, would have pulled one of the greatest gaming moments of all time. This would have probably placed Limbo in my top five games of all time.
It’s just too bad that they tried to fit in a story.
For all the comparisons that I will make, this game reminds me of Crackdown. Yes, they are so far away from each other both in terms of aesthetics and gameplay, but in terms of story presentation – they’re entirely the same. For the full length of Crackdown, up until the ending, the story does not take centre stage. You kill gang leaders and basically wreck nice havoc in a free-roam style playground, until you’re reminded (in the ending) on the actual consequences of your actions. It’s not the absolute kick to the balls that Red Dead Redemption did, it’s one of those moments where you just know the developer wanted to squeeze a story in.
So, there I was, wandering to the right (in Limbo) and I was expecting the game to start all over again. I was so taken back by it, it was genuinely going to be one of the greatest gaming moments of all time. All the boxes were checked. The boy twinkling his eyes as he gets up, the familiar environment, zero audio cues. Well, the last one was right up until the end of my wandering, when this soothing music started playing. Then I saw the boy’s sister, who I don’t give a damn about. This type of storytelling is worse than any bad storytelling, it’s the type that is non-existent and then suddenly comes into power at the very end. They made it interesting in Crackdown, but here, it’s just really out of place.
If Limbo hadn’t performed its ending, and even if it didn’t perform the one that I outlined (a true cyclical game) I would’ve placed it in my top five games of all time.
That’s obviously not to say it’s not in my top ten. It’s there, but really only because of the build-up. The platforming and puzzling is all mindblowing, the pacing is exquisite and you’re always been introduced to new elements. It’s the scariest most gut-wrenching game I’ve ever played. I saw a little boy get decapitated and impaled by a spider’s leg. I’m not naturally afraid of real spiders, but just the creepy-crawliness of the giant spider was enough to have me screaming at the television everytime it drew nearer.
Limbo is a masterpiece, for all of its ending faults. It’s beautiful, it’s mindblowing, it’s jaw-dropping and it’s one of the most meaningful experiences you can ever hope to have.
I’ll have an editorial out by the end of the week, about how Limbo is “More Manly Than Any FPS” or something along those lines.