Damn. Been a minute, friends. Chalk it up to a period of adjustment as I settle in at my new position in the company, which involves a lot more looking at spreadsheets than I would have anticipated and an honest-to-God, nine to five Monday to Friday schedule.
Still too early to judge the experience one way or the other, but I can say it’s not a job that nurtures one’s creativity. Entering the land of commuter drones leaves the brain a little mushy by the time you get home, and by the time you do get there, you kind of just want to decompress with the Lady you love and watch bad TV like the rest of the hive.
No excuse, I know. Faulkner worked at a post office. And I always considered myself a writer who sold books. Seems in the run up to and commencement of this job I got my poles reversed a little bit. Apologies, friends.
Can’t blame it all on the new gig, though, and thus we come to what this post is actually about.
With my recent birthday, my wonderful Lady replaced the XBox 360 she originally bought me for Christmas three years ago so I could play Grand Theft Auto IV, and like most XBoxes it blew its ass up and red ringed itself. I knew I’d eventually get around to replacing it, but because she is wonderful she did it for me first. So I’ve been trying to catch up on what I’ve missed in the gaming world since. I bought some funny money for XBox Live and picked up a few titles I wanted before the last system blew up: Scott Pilgrim v. The World and Sonic 4, games specifically designed to my sensibilities. With a couple thousand points still burning a hole in my pocket, I finally succumbed to the recommendations of all the game snobs I know and downloaded Limbo.
My resistance to Limbo originally came from a few fronts: an aversion to platforming for the sake of platforming (ie, no real progression or boss battles), the alleged steep difficulty curve and the Burton-esque art direction. And thought I think these are legitimate gripes a person could have with the game, they need to be gotten over: Limbo really is unlike anything you’ll play, and in a world populated with Madden and first-person-shooters, it’s the sort of avant-garde hit the industry loves and requires.
There’s not much plot to speak of in the game: you’re a boy, you wake up in a forest, you’re looking for something so you start moving. Your goal is survival, and first time players will fail that goal repeatedly. The score in Limbo comes from how infrequently your character explodes in a burst of silhouetted gore from spikes, bear traps, electric floors and giant spiders. Your only defense is your wits. You progress until it’s over and get no explanation. What the game means is entirely what you perceive it to mean.
It’s not exactly action-packed (makes Shadow of the Colossus look like Call of Duty) and it might tilt just a wee bit too far to form over function, but at a time where games are coming under heat from the US government again, and when they continue to be mostly sneered at by cultural commentators, it’s a pleasant surprise to have something that can be held up as an example of when a video game, something essentially a trifling distraction,can aspire to something resembling art and succeed.
Limbo is available for download on Xbox Live for 1200 MSPoints.