Photo via Northwest Gamer
Limbo is a fantastic game, simply. I’m a picky player – the game has to be really good for me to get excited about it. There have been a few though, over the years that have really shone and I will religiously preach them to whoever asks. Few and far between, here are a few that come to mind:
World of Goo:
Photo via KacperM
The story. I had no idea a game with virtually no talking, no singular protagonist, no real antagonist and no plot except for the linear level progress could be so compelling. I was pulled in. The sign painter was hilarious, helpful and often incredibly clever. I’ll try to be vague to avoid spoilers, but the ending did have that good, satisfying feeling. The journey comes to a close and you’re sort of sad that that’s all there is to the game, but glad that you accomplished it, and relieved they didn’t just ruin it by going on forever. The soundtrack can be found free and sometimes it’ll come on shuffle and I’ll have nostalgic flashbacks. Man, I’m such a sap. But really, that’s what a good game should do to you.
I like the mix of patience building and frantic haphazard construction. The game itself turns and introduces the various goo species in a nice fashion. I’m not sure really what else to say here.
Photo via The Controller Online
I played it a while back on a friend’s xbox and just bought it the other day on Steam so I’m about halfway through it right now. It’s a fairly short game – you could probably beat it in a few hours if you really sat down and hammered through, already knowing the puzzle’s solutions. Still, that’s no way to appreciate a game. Like fine wine, slow sips; allowing it to savour as it flows through your mind. Limbo is in the subtleties. Perhaps it’s just me and my habit of looking behind the scenes and learning how things are done, but the environment was really cleverly made. The very deliberate use of light and shadow, silhouettes and objects, light fog and dark vignettes is perfect. Spot on. Brilliant. Really, it’s art.
The story is vague and there isn’t really any explanation for anything, which is fine by me. I really dislike the patronizing tutorials “Run left with the left key. Try it now. Good! Now you can run left” is just ridiculous. None of that here, not that it’s terribly hard to figure out, there’s only four keys really. Still, the level design teaches you things that would be awkward to explain using text and introduces the elements in a way that shows you how it works without putting you in frustrating danger. Again, subtle. Well designed.
It too has an ending, though it’s slightly more upsetting. Rather, it just sort of stops. It’s over. You sit there, staring at the screen and think “What just happened?” while your brain tries to process everything. It leaves it to you to explain it all which is both good and bad – both enlightening and frustratingly vague. Still, the journey is a good one and highly recommended.
It’s sad to me that people are less likely to pirate bigger games. The direct effect of that is games like the two mentioned above, which can’t be bigger than a few hundred MBs, are the most likely to be pirated. I’m not sure what the actual stats were, but the rate of piracy of World of Goo was staggering. Shamefully staggering.
The irony is that these are the small studios who need it the most. These are the ones taking risks and making brilliant, brilliant products. These are the studios we should support more than anyone.
So I definitely recommend the games above, and I also recommend that you consider who makes them and how little money they make for doing it. It’s not really about ethics or morals or anything, I just think these are studios who deserve mad props and a little of our pocket change is all. I support awesome products.