Featured Article: Multiplayer Limbo
Ray Ivey and friends spontaneously turn a single-player game into a group effort
I generally think of adventure games as solo affairs. Usually. Most of the time when I’m playing an adventure, I’m alone. Now, I’m lucky in that my friend Laurie also loves adventure games, and she and I have also completed dozens of them playing together. She’s good at visuals and color; I’m good at logic and sound puzzles. We’re a good team.
Okay, so adventure games can be Solo or Co-Op. But, Multiplayer? No way, right?
Or so I thought!
The other night I was having some friends over for our twice-a-month movie night. The movie that evening was Barbarella, which most of us had never seen.
Several members of the group are quite artistic, and after the movie, I said, “There’s a game I’ve been playing on my PS3 that you should just take a look at.”
I’d been replaying Playdead’s Limbo, a side-scrolling platform puzzle adventure that won a ton of awards after its release in 2010.
I know Limbo isn’t a pure adventure, but it really feels like an adventure game to me, and you know how I love my hybrids.
I didn’t fire up the game to do anything but show my friends some of the breathtaking visuals from the game. If you haven’t played it, you’ve got to check it out. It’s got some of the greatest visual design I’ve ever seen.
In the game, you play a little boy who wakes up in a dark, foreboding wood. There is no dialog and no explanation of who he is or why he’s there. You simply begin moving him to the right and start to explore the macabre and deadly world he finds himself stuck in. The world if the game is all shadowy, 2D black and white. The look is reminiscent of old German expressionistic film. (This is a good thing.)
After showing my friends a few screens, during which they agreed with me on the visuals, they began to react to the puzzles I was trying to solve. I showed them how elegantly the game teaches the player how to manipulate objects in the world in order to solve puzzles. I took them to my current spot, on a puzzle I was a bit stuck on.
Before I knew it, the entire room was working on the puzzle together.
“Pull the small crate over first!”
“Can you grab the rope if you hop off of that branch?”
“There! You can get the glowbug off of your head right THERE!”
When you fail on a puzzle in Limbo, it usually results in the hapless little boy dying in some gruesome, black-and-white, in-profile manner. We’d try someone’s suggestion on a puzzle and then the entire room would groan or laugh or shriek as the kid’s head got summarily snapped off by a bear trap, or he got electrocuted, stabbed, or crushed. If all that sounds sick, well, I guess it is, but hey, I’m a gamer, sue me.
Before we knew it, we had spent more time playing Limbo as a group than we had spent watching Jane Fonda’s boobs jiggle in bad '60s psychedelic costumes in Barbarella. We actually played about half of the game (it’s short) during that sitting.
I loved the game already, but enjoying it with my friends made me love it even more. I’m currently trying to think of other games we could play as a group.
So, I’m curious. Have you ever had an experience like this? If you have, let me know!
And meanwhile, spoiler: You have to destroy the giant spider’s legs one by one with the bear trap!!