It might not seem like it, but I really do play other games besides Team Fortress 2. Sometimes it might be something as simple as an Xbox Live Arcade game and sometimes it might be a newly released PC demo. Sometimes I get hooked on a game and play it for a long time, like Team Fortress 2. But I am a Jack of all Trades and Master of None when it comes to video games. I'll play just about anything. Why?

If you were to read any number of "How to write a Novel" books you might be surprised to learn that one of the tips they suggest is to read a variety of different books...and read a ton of them. I think the same logic holds true for gamers...especially for those of us who like to write about them and talk about them and live them. I suppose that's why I try and play a variety of different games.

So, anyway...I'm on Xbox Live flipping through the new downloads and my daughter comes in the room and she says, "Hey...are you downloading Limbo?"

At the time...I hadn't heard of Limbo, or if I had it wasn’t ringing any bells...which always bothers me when my daughter knows about games that I don't know about.

I don't know how much time went by, but it couldn't have been but a day or two, and I notice that Game Informer Online has a new poll up (perhaps you've seen it) that asks...

So, if that wasn't enough. I'm in the reading room (bathroom) still digesting the latest episode of Game Informer when I notice on page 110...Limbo. Game of the Month. Score: 9.

Okay. Fine. I get it. Check out Limbo.

So, the first thing I did was download the trailer. It's the smallest file size and quickest way to evaluate whether it's worthwhile or not. The video was interesting. Not quite what I expected.

I fell for the bait.

So, I downloaded the demo. No sense in buying a game without trying out the demo. The demo was pretty short but offered just enough to entice me and leave me wanting more.

The hook was set.

Okay. I admit it. I had to buy the full game. It's one of those rare gems that doesn’t come along that often, but when it does, it's the kind of game that leaves you feeling all warm and content inside. And while you might not sit around chatting about it with your buddies, it's a rich and moving experience. I kind of compare it to watching a chick flick. If you give it a chance, you're probably going to be treated to an emotionally charged story that wrestles with your feelings but not something you'll freely admit to the "guys". But you’re still glad you experienced it.

I was/am caught!


What do we know about it? Or the people who make it? Not much. This game didn't just fly under the RADAR for landed in the backyard, snuck in the house and stood over my bed watching me sleep. I think I just stereotyped it as a cute little independent title that I normally don't play. Yes, it's an independent title, but some independent titles still get plenty of fanfare from the media and subsequently my attention . Either I blindly ignored or dismissed any coverage this game received, or it just didn't get any. Now that I’m writing about it and doing my homework, the signs were there. I just ignored them and regret doing so now.

Limbo was created by Playdead. If you go to the official website and clicked on the "About Playdead" link you would find:

Playdead is an independent game studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded by Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti in 2006. LIMBO is Playdead’s first production with Arnt Jensen as Game Director.

That's it. Perhaps the shortest company description I've ever seen. I don't even think they have a logo...

If you read their Wikipedia'll notice most of the references are dated July 21, 2010. Yes, that's right. As in just a few days ago. History in the making? Perhaps...It's interesting to note that Playdead doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry. I'm sure that will change, given the attention and praise this game is receiving.

Now I can sit here and tell you all about the game...that "the primary character in Limbo is a nameless boy who awakes in the middle of a forest on the "edge of hell" (the game's title is taken from the Latin limbus, meaning "edge") who then begins to seek out his missing sister" or that "The player controls the boy for the entirety of Limbo. Typical of most two-dimensional platform games, the player can make the boy run in either direction, jump, climb up short ledges or up and down ropes, and push or pull objects as necessary. The game is presented through dark, grayscale graphics and with minimalist ambient sounds, creating an "eerie" and "haunting" environment" but you can read that in the professional reviews.

I'm going to give you a "gamer perspective" of the game.

It's just a refreshingly simple game that is a pleasure to experience. In a world of state of the art graphics, cutting edge sound effects and complex control schemes, this is perhaps one of the most basic games you will ever see. But its simplicity is what makes it so breathtaking; it's what let's you sit there and connect with this unknown boy that reminds me of Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) caught up in a dark and haunting world. If you don't just sit there and absorb the beauty of the little details, like cattails in the swamp or crickets chirping in the background and the intricate traps and puzzles along the way, then you're going to miss the true splendor of the game. While I say that, it does have a degree of a dark melancholy atmosphere and some may find certain scenes a bit on the gruesome side.

My daughter described it as a "Mario meets Edgar Allen Poe" and I can't think of a better description. She also said it reminded her of the Jasper Morello movie shorts that some might be familiar with. I haven't played it very far, and I'm a little afraid to because it's only 3 to 6 hours of game play. I can only hope that Playdead is already working on a sequel or spin off or something comparable.

Roger Ebert can think or say what he wants about video games being art...("I thought games weren't art before I thought they were art...")

This game is art...and not only art…but a masterpiece.

The official details...

Developer(s): PlayDead Studios

Publisher(s): Microsoft Game Studios

Platform(s): Xbox 360 (XBLA)

Release date(s): July 21, 2010 (2010-07-21)

Genre(s): Puzzle-platformer

Mode(s): Single player

Cost: 1200 Microsoft points, I think...

Now if you'll excuse me...I have a deep dark world to explore and puzzles to solve...