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February 27, 2013

Limbo GUEST REVIEW




EDITOR'S NOTE: Daniel's back with another review, this time of Limbo, a short but sweet little puzzle game. Take it away, Daniel:

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Limbo is a 2010 platform/puzzle game released for the Xbox 360 initially, then later for PS3 and PC.

REVIEWING STYLE:

--Green is for mild content.

--Blue is for moderate or very brief intense content, provided that it isn't too graphic.

--Orange is for intense content.

--Red is for very graphic or prolonged intense content.

Areas of Concern:

  
Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

You wouldn’t think a simple black-and-white, side-scrolling game could have graphic violence, but this one definitely proves it can. Your character can be maimed, dismembered, beheaded, impaled, crushed and more. The most disturbing thing about this violence is that it happens to a young boy.

--The main antagonist is a huge, scary spider that will frequently impale the boy to death with his legs. The boy turns the table eventually by systematically pulling each of its limbs off with gross sound effects and goo spraying, and he uses the limbless body to solve a puzzle.

--Bear traps pop up frequently and can make a big mess if the boy steps on them. (A mess of blood and gore kind) They are also used in one puzzle to remove an animal carcass from a rope.

--In a few instances, glowing worms attach themselves to the boy’s head, forcing him to walk in one direction. They can be killed by walking into light, but it’s pretty creepy.

NOTE: There is a filter in the menu where you can turn off any gore/graphic deaths. The screen simply blacks out instead of showing it.

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

None.
Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

None.
Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy  

None.
Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

As the title of the game suggests, your character is in a world very similar to Limbo, or “the edge of hell.” Aside from the title, though, there are no overt spiritual references.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

The morality of the main character is pretty much unknown, as he doesn’t speak and the environment doesn’t hint toward any.

Scary Stuff: (By the Editor)

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--There is a giant hairy spider in this game which chases you around. 'NUFF SAID!

Thoughts & Impressions:


What it’s about: 

Limbo is a basic puzzle/platform game that distinguishes itself mainly in two areas:

1.    It has black, white and grey-scale graphics, with an emphasis on silhouettes.
2.    It has no music or spoken word, with most of the sounds coming from sound effects.

The story involves a young boy who wakes up in the middle of a forest. Why is he there? What does he have to do? It’s pretty vague, but the only option is to keep moving forward by solving various puzzles and combating various enemies.

The gameplay is very easy to pick up, while some of the puzzles are very difficult. The platforming is also easy at first, but gradually gets more difficult. As the developers of the game said, it’s a “trial and death” game.

Quality Conclusion:

Limbo is quite unlike any game I’ve played. It does have simple platforming elements and puzzles just like many games, but the eery atmosphere and the fact it revolves around a child is a unique experience.

From the start of the game, you notice the unique grey-scale art style and lack of music. It’s unnerving at first, especially when you hear various creepy-crawlers and other sounds as you progress. But I grew used to it and actually appreciated it. 

The platforming is simple, but can be difficult to pull off. Plan on dying a LOT. As for the puzzles, they’re simple at first, but grow into some serious mind-benders. 

During a couple particularly hard ones later in the game, I had to actually stop playing for a few days to wrap my head around them. But once you solve them, it’s very gratifying.

The game is pretty short, but difficult puzzles/platforming can extend this. 

The ending is definitely worth any time you invest in it, as it’s one of those “aha!” moments that leaves you sitting there for a couple minutes contemplating what just happened.

In short, Limbo is a creepy psychological game that has very inventive puzzles and platforming and is definitely worth trying out.



As you’ve probably deduced, the main moral issues with Limbo mainly involve violence, specifically the deaths of the main young boy character.

The first time you die is definitely shocking, as you’ll probably see various body parts and squirts of blood (though through a black silhouette), or an impalement. Each time the boy dies, the lights go out in his eyes and you have to try again.

And you will die. Many, many times. While the graphics aren’t as bad as some games out there due to the lack of color, it’s definitely disturbing. How will you feel about it? That’s up to you. I wasn’t sure how I should react to this stuff being done to a child, and that feeling stayed with me throughout the game. 

Thankfully, there is a gore filter, as mentioned earlier. But the atmosphere and other disturbing content is still there. It’s up to parents of course, but I’d recommend mid-teens and up for the game with the filter, and older teens and up (or young adults) without it.

Verdict: 16+

MODERATE CAUTION

(For scary situations and intense violence involving a child.)

END OF REVIEW

So what do you think? Leave a comment below detailing your thoughts on this game, and the way it treats violence towards children.

I (Kyle) will be back next week with another review, as will Daniel in the near future. 

See ya!

February 25, 2013

Three Cards in the Hand (UPDATE)

Busy, busy, busy. Lots of games coming out, and we need to review ASAP!

Dead Space 3 is longer than I expected, so you're gonna get another indie game review this week. It's going to be a good one. Tune in Wednesday for it.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is top-priority, mostly because I'm interested in seeing how Raiden works in his own game. It also contains a lot of slicing, so that's.....interesting.

Crysis 3 is also high-ish priority, so we're working hard on that one. (As a side note, why are third installments always lackluster?)

Next month, we got big games coming out like Tomb Raider, SimCity, Gears of War: Judgement, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, BioShock Infinite, Army of Two: Devil's Cartel, Metro: Last Light, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. (So. Much. Games!)

I look forward to next month, and I hope you do too! It's gonna be a big one.......Oh boy. 

February 22, 2013

Flash Game Fridays: Flow



Here is a free abstract little Flash game for you to enjoy. Flow is an abstract "Art Game", which contains fun gameplay even if nothing makes sense. (I guess that's what an Art Game is supposed to be)

Have fun with it!

Gameplay Description:

You guide an aquatic life form through an abstract environment, eating a few smaller life forms along the way, making your creature grow bigger and stronger.

You can eat a few Red and Green coloured creatures to let you Descend and Ascend in the environment. You also encounter several bigger creatures, but not to worry. After enough life forms have been consumed, you become just as big as your intimidating enemies---if not bigger.

It's hard to describe this game because of it's abstract nature. What are you waiting for, go play it! It's made so that even non-gamers can play it, so you don't have an excuse. Go play, NOW!

February 20, 2013

Braid GUEST REVIEW


Braid is a 2009 platform/puzzle game released for the Xbox 360/PC/PS3.

REVIEWING STYLE:

--Green is for mild content.

--Blue is for moderate or very brief intense content, provided that it isn't too graphic.

--Orange is for intense content.

--Red is for very graphic or prolonged intense content.

Areas of Concern:


Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

There is about as much violence in this game as there is in Super Mario Bros. Your character jumps on enemies’ heads to kill them, and can fall to his death via large distances or on spikes.

--One of the bosses is a fairly ugly fellow, but nothing that wouldn’t disturb anyone older than a toddler.

--Said boss can shoot fireballs, which (in addition to the spikes), is about as violent as this game gets.

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

Aside from a cute love story comprising most of the plot, there is no sexual content (much less nudity).

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

None.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

(See Language).

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

As with the story, the spiritual content may be up to you with this game. The “space” between levels/chapters is somewhat of a dream world, but could be perceived as Heaven. And there is the whole time-travel aspect. But there is no blatant spiritual content.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Your character is unselfish, on a journey to save his love, no matter what the consequences are. That means he puts his personal welfare to the wayside, similar to Mario. He is basically an upstanding moral character. The only possible blemish would be that he uses some seemingly innocent “enemies” to reach his goal.

Thoughts & Impressions: 


What it’s about: 

Braid is a puzzle/platform game purely from the mind of acclaimed indie developer Jonathan Blow. It involves a red-haired protagonist on an attempt to save the love of his life (and a princess).

It’s a traditional platformer, but with time travel and puzzle elements thrown in (as well as optional “jigsaw puzzle” elements). 

Quality Conclusion:

At first, Braid seems like a blatant (if modernized) port of Super Mario Bros. The homages to the iconic game are prevalent throughout. It has a hero who is on a constant question to rescue an elusive princess, who has been kidnapped by a brutish antagonist (complete with fireballs and all). 

But unlike Mario, this game is forgiving. Miss jumping on an enemy’s head? No worries, you can just reverse time and try again (much better than lives). In fact, the game gradually introduces new gameplay aspects so easily, you rarely ever get frustrated (until the later levels, that is). Granted, there are some definite brain-benders, but that makes it more satisfying once you complete the game.

Oh, and did I mention the audial and visual aesthetics? Even Van Gogh would have a hard time competing with how beautiful this game is. Plus, the soundtrack is worthy of an iTunes download (very reminiscent of a blend between Lord of the Rings and a traditional Irish ballad).

In short, this game deserves the hype it garnered in the indie gamer world. The story is vague, yet interesting. But that’s how Blow probably wanted it. As for the gameplay, it combines the basic mechanics of early video games with unique things we’ve never seen (or heard) before, which is always welcome. And it’s difficult enough for the hardcore gamer, without alienating the casual one.

Quality-wise, this game is just as good as any multi-million-dollar blockbuster.


Clouds, flowers and tubes…oh my!

The short length of Braid limits the objectionable moral content, but that by no means eliminates the possibility of it. Still, it’s about as hard to find anything immoral in Braid as it is to find a pebble in a pool.

This game harkens back to old-school gaming, when the worst content you’d find would be jumping on an enemy’s head. It’s a wholesome game that still appeals to the modern gamer. My only question is, why can’t more games be like this?

I have no reservations recommending this to all gamers young and old, though: 1, younger gamers will have a hard time with the mechanics; and 2, parents could probably use the love story and “monsters” as conversation-starters for younger gamers.


Verdict: (All Ages)

CLEAN
(Some cartoonish violence.)

END OF REVIEW

So there you go! I hope you enjoyed this short little review. Be sure to thank Daniel for his contribution. I will see you next week with whatever review I have up then.

Take care!

Your turn: What did you think of this little indie platformer? And more importantly, did you find that pebble in the pool?