The inspiration Monochromo pulls from Limbo is obvious: A little boy wanders through a dark, oppressive world filled with dangerous obstacles. Developer Nowhere Studios is quick to acknowledge how important Limbo was in the creation of Monochroma. Players solve environmental puzzles involving pushing boxes and leaping across floating logs, but the game adds new wrinkles to the formula. The little boy must lead his younger sister through the deadly world.

I began my hands-on time with Monochromo by guiding the little boy through dark cornfields as rain pours around him. The keyboard controls are simple. Players make the boy run, jump, and interact with objects like switches or boxes. Lighting crashes in the background as I pass by quiet farmsteads and abandoned grain silos. Eventually I see a kite appear in the distance, which I instinctively follow. After running in parallel for sometime, the boy meets with the kite’s handler: his little sister. From there it’s up to players to guide their scared sibling through the treacherous world towards salvation.

Unfortunately, the boy’s sister is afraid of the dark, which makes traversing this dark world tricky. Players can run and climb with the little girl clutching to their back, but certain puzzles require the boy to act alone. Because of her phobia, the little sister can only be left in the light. Sometimes this requires climbing ladders and swinging across ropes to open shutters to let the sun shine through. It’s an interesting dynamic that adds complexity to both the characters and the game design. 

Monochroma’s linear structure is filled with a series of memorable, dangerous moments. One section requires players to follow a huge log through a mill and jump off before they’re turned to mulch. Another involves finding a way to extinguish a burning barrel and use it as a buoy to cross a pool of gasoline. One of my favorite moments involves fleeing a burly factory worker that spots the trespassing children, which ends with a dramatic leap through a window. These treacherous encounters are made more intense knowing that the boy’s innocent sister is also at risk. However, a generous checkpoint system is in place for when things go poorly.

As previously mentioned, the art style is evocative of Limbo, but has some unique touches. There is more depth to the world and characters feature more detail than in Limbo. Also, certain objects in the environment are accented with red, like the boy’s scarf or a tractor parked in a barn. It’s a simple concept but the added color pops against the grayish tone of the game in a great way.

My 15-minute hands-on demo with the Monochromo blew by quickly. The drip feed of simple-but-not-too-simple puzzles made me eager to keep going. I constantly wanted to know what other dangerous situation was around the corner. Nowhere Studios says Monochroma may be downloadable on PC as early as this summer.