By Marty Mulrooney
Alternative Magazine Online reviewed the PlayStation Network version of Limbo (a downloadable puzzle-platform video game created by independent Danish game developer Playdead) last year, describing it as “an unforgettable, game-changing experience.” Originally released as a platform exclusive title on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010, Limbo was ported to the PlayStation Network and Microsoft Windows via Steam in 2011. It’s now 2012 and this phenomenal game is seeing yet another release – this time as a retail special edition that includes DRM-free PC and Mac versions, a free Steam gift key, a standalone soundtrack by Martin Stig Andersen, seven original art cards, a boy sticker and 3D glasses.
Limbo is described by its developers with the simple tagline: “Uncertain of his sister’s fate, a boy enters Limbo.” A 2D sidescroller, the player takes control of an unnamed boy in a monochromatic black-and-white world as he constantly pushes onwards, facing numerous dangers and puzzles along the way. Limbo is a ‘trial and death’ game whereby the player will die a multitude of deaths – most of them grisly and sudden – before learning the correct method of progression.
It’s hard to describe exactly what makes Limbo so special – it was difficult to put into words upon release and it’s still difficult now. Martin Stig Andersen’s soundtrack, combined with the striking visuals and simplistic yet satisfying gameplay, creates an atmosphere that is utterly haunting and truly unforgettable. Those who have yet to experience Limbo can read AMO’s original review here – it’s still a masterpiece that says everything it needs to without ever uttering a single word.
However, let’s be honest. In all likelihood, you’ve probably already played Limbo before, whether on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or even on PC via Steam. It’s an award-winning game after all that certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the mainstream gaming press and gamers alike. So – what does the Special Edition offer that makes it worth buying?
First of all, the PC version of Limbo is the only version that runs at 60fps. Everything seems to run that little bit smoother – it does make a difference. Also, the PC version is the only version that allows you to play in 3D. Granted, it’s anaglyph 3D using old-school red and blue glasses, but it works surprisingly well. Perhaps it’s because the game is black-and-white and highly stylised, but playing in 3D – even out-dated 3D – looks great and fits with the old-film vibe of the visuals.
The DRM-free version of Limbo does exactly what it says on the tin – once the game is installed, you can store the disk away for safekeeping, as it isn’t required to be in the disk drive while playing. The soundtrack is available as an MP3 album on the disk, or you can simply pop it straight into a CD player and play it like any other album. You also get a Steam key that you can keep for yourself if you wish, or gift to a friend – a very generous inclusion indeed!
The PC version of Limbo is a solid port – it looks as fantastic as it did on the consoles and as previously mentioned, it is the only version to run at a rock solid 60fps. Some PC gamers may balk at the total lack of graphical options – there is literally only a brightness slider, you can’t even choose the screen resolution! – but once you’re actually playing the game, none of that will really matter.
So, the final question – should you buy Limbo: Special Edition? The answer is the same for both old fans and newcomers alike. If you enjoy owning physical copies of your games – especially collector’s editions – then you shouldn’t miss out on this fantastic release from Merge Games in collaboration with Playdead. It’s utterly gorgeous, from the classy cardboard slipcase to the glossy art cards contained within. Digital releases may be considered the future, but when a retail special edition this good comes along, it makes you want to hold onto the past for just a little bit longer.
10 OUT OF 10