A few years ago, I went over to Shaun Hatton’s place to hang out. When I arrived, he was playing Limbo on his Xbox 360, and was stuck at a particular part. He was about to shut down when I suggested we keep playing through the game. We eventually finished the game that evening, and both agreed that it was a fantastic piece of story-telling and platforming. When I learned that Playdead’s awesome title was coming to the Playstation Vita thanks to Double Eleven, I was intrigued and excited. Now that I have played through the game on my Vita, I feel like my anticipation was justified. This is a game that really works on the platform.
We (Rebecca) reviewed Limbo for the Xbox 360. The dark atmosphere, stark imagery and beautiful animation all contribute towards an enchanting experience that feels like living art. The journey of our young hero through this black-and-white land of heavy industry and hidden surprises is a compelling one, and seemingly challenges the player to dare put their controller down.
For those who have not played the original (so sorry), the premise of the game is to try and find your missing sister by getting to the end. It sounds so simple, until you realize that there is no real explanation as to how you are to accomplish your task. You (the character you portray is a young boy) just wake up in the middle of a forest and have to make your way through puzzles and hazards in a world that seems like our own with a few twists. There is just enough subtle guidance presented to keep you moving, usually to your own surprise.
I don’t want to know where this pipe comes from.
The translation to a hand-held device feels pretty natural with this game. The limited number of moves (run, jump, push, pull, swing and climb) require the use of only a few buttons, so there is no hand yoga skill required to play. In terms of aesthetics, the Vita version is no less powerful in its presentation. Given the challenge of replicating the suspense and emotion of the original on a smaller screen, I think that Double Eleven did a fantastic job bringing this to a hand-held device. In fact, in a conversation with Shaun Hatton, we both came to an agreement that the way this was handled actually felt better than playing it on a bigger screen.
In a way, the game felt more intimate, and private. To have to focus on a smaller area almost draws the player into the game that much more. I jumped far more playing Limbo on the Vita than I did when I was on a couch, playing this on the 360 – which is amazing considering that this was my second play-through. The stark imagery is no less creepy on the Vita’s screen. All of the visual effects that were present in the original have been brought over and work very nicely. Not only the video has been lovingly ported, but the audio as well. Obviously relying on the Vita speakers will have less of an impact than using a good pair of headphones – those creepy ambient noises are subtle, and as good as the Vita speakers are, Limbo uses a very wide and dynamic range of audio that begs to be heard!
Whether you have played Limbo before or not, the Vita version is just as good as it is on the Xbox 360. Hats off to Double Eleven for doing such a great job bringing this to a portable format. I’m really looking forward to more works from the devs that made this game!