PlayDead Studios is an independent video game studio, and its debut into the world of gaming is best described as an enjoyable piece of art. This was one of the big surprises from E3 this year. Limbo is one of the most artistic and atmospheric games to date, but thats not why we buy video games is it? Limbo isn’t just beautiful. It’s fun as hell, and sadistically funny.

Limbo is an Xbox Live Arcade game that was put up for purchase on July 21, 2010. By description it is simply a 2D side scrolling puzzle game. The controls are as basic as any game out there. You can move left and right, you can jump, and you have an action button for grabbing and pulling objects. Simple enough. The simplicity of the controls are one of the things that make it fun to play. Its reminiscent of Mario games of old. The ones we used to play on our Nintendo systems when we were just out of diapers (I realize I am speaking simply to my generation but you get the point).

Your goal in Limbo is to find your missing sister as you avoid getting yourself killed. Inevitably you will die hundreds of times throughout the game. It’s almost as if the game wants you to experience a trial and error version of problem solving. The error always meaning a dark death. I may have opened a new door into my dark side because I found myself laughing about repeatedly being beheaded by bear traps and being impaled by giant spiders among other things. The puzzles are clever and well designed. You don’t experience many other human characters in the game, but the few you come across don’t seem to be to fond of you.

Any developer in the gaming industry can take notes on the amazing atmosphere that is created in Limbo. It has very eerie lighting effects, and the game seems to be entirely void of any color. The soft background sounds and lighting effects add a sense of ambiance that makes the simplicity of the little boy and his puzzle world seem very mature. This is not a child’s sidescroller by any means even though there is an option to turn off the ‘gore’ animations. The world created in the game of Limbo is instantly enticing, and immediately viewed as an impressive artistic achievement.

The game has received large amounts of praise, and very high marks on reviews across the board. The biggest deterrent of dropping $15 on the game is the fact that it is rather short. The full play through can take anywhere from 3-7 hours depending on how many times you get stuck in a cycle of death. As far as I’m concerned it is an arcade game that you should have in your collection, as I didn’t feel shorted on enjoyment. A short game that is brilliant is a much better investment than a long game that you tire of.

At the very least you should download the trial of Limbo on the Xbox Live Marketplace for free and give it a test run before you drop any cash. Sadly, there are no plans for this game to head to any other platforms (PS3/Wii), but if you own an Xbox 360 this is a game worth checking out.

For more information, and a look at the game trailer go to limbogame.org

Photo credit: limbogame.org

DJ