Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker
andrewducker

Review: "Limbo" and "Journey"

I am currently downloading 1GB of volunteer-made textures for Morrowind, following which I will download a massive patch for the text, another for the game, and one to fix various glitches in the game. Which leaves me wondering how one would go about harnessing the energy these people put in to fixing glitches in an existing game and put it to work creating a new one instead.

Anyway, while I do that, here's my thoughts on two games I've played recently:
1) Limbo. Which is incredibly atmoshpheric, interesting, gorgeously put together, full of dread, with possibilities lurking around all corners . For the first third. And then turns into a rather kludgy, simplistic platformer that doesn't do anything you haven't seen in 30 other places. Seriously, in the beginning there's a world with giant spiders capturing passers by, feral children digging pit traps, giant abandoned signs, and it all feels like it's going somewhere. And then you enter a factory where everything is hard edges and "press this, then that, then jump over something before the water rises" puzzles, and it's all variations on that theme until an ending that isn't one. I actually stopped caring 2/3 of the way through the game, watched a walkthrough, and ended up skipping large chunks of _that_ because it was so samey. I assume the creators spent so much time on the loving design of the opening chapters they ran out of time to install the same qualities in the rest of it. Still, if you can pick it up cheap it's worth playing the first half:




2) Journey. Oh. My. God. If you have a PS3 then you should be downloading this, putting a couple of hours to one side, and playing it all the way through in one sitting with the volume turned up. In some ways it's similar to Limbo (you wake up somewhere, and have to set out in search of something unspecified), but rather than creepiness, the whole game is suffused with joy and wonder. I'm not actually sure this is a game - because I didn't die even once during it, and I'm not sure it's possible to. Instead it's an experience, it's art, and it's, well, a journey. You move from place to place, you press a few buttons, you trudge through snow, you encounter creatures, and you spend the whole game staring at the screen thinking "Wow, this looks fantastic." And not because it has more photorealistic pixels smacking you on the nose than any other game, but because it has style and beauty to spare.

The controls are smooth and fluid - you slide down long sand dunes, or dance in the air and it feels just right. The multiplayer is also gorgeously done. You randomly bump into other players, with no idea who they are, or any way to communicate via the "shout" button, which produces a simple set of chimes. You can help each other with activating different buttons/pillars, and recharge each other's energy. But mostly you're there for company - to guide one another through the deserts and the snows as you work towards your destination. Which means that everyone I met was friendly - waiting if I got left behind for a moment, giving bursts of energy if I was depleted, and most of all, offering companionship. It really was an amazing experience.


Read the first two comments on that video here to see the kinds of comments that the game evokes.



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