Navel Gazing in Limbo
Hey, you know what game I’m still trying to finish? Limbo.
It’s great. It’s atmospheric and pretty and challenging and interesting, but let me backtrack a minute there and repeat the challenging bit. It’s really, really hard. The puzzle solutions aren’t too bad, not for people who like puzzlers, but the execution of them is head bangingly frustrating. They require timing and steady hands and after about 20 minutes I have to take a breather.
Take this little puzzle here. On the lower left is a switch that turns that slope into a magnet. So, you turn that off, push the box up, let it slide back down halfway, turn the switch back on so it sticks, jump up onto the box and onto the shelf, hit the door switch, jump back onto the box, and then from the box onto the ladder and through the door before it closes.
Jumping is very very hard. Getting the timing right is very very hard. I figured out what I was supposed to do very quickly, but I still haven’t DONE it.
It’s fun, though, when its not frustrating. When I execute something right, it reminds me of the feeling I had killing a really hard level of SMB (like, you know, the underwater levels F YOU UNDERWATER LEVELS). It’s an accomplishment.
Still, when I see people complaining that games are too easy these days, I want to knock their heads against something. I was listening to an interview by Irrational Games’ Ken Levine talking about this — pointing out that early games were so hard because they were arcade games and dying meant you put another quarter in. The difficulty of a game doesn’t reflect its quality.
The Stanley Parable was one of my favorite games last year. Gone Home was my absolute favorite. Neither was difficult. Gone Home required some thinking to find backstory, but otherwise you were just walking through a house, picking things up and putting them down. Not hard, but amazing. Games don’t fall into a traditional definition anymore, so you get to do a whole lot out of the box and still have a great game.
Which isn’t to say harder games are bad. Some midlevel games, and I guess I’d put Portal and Braid into this category, are a little difficult and still outstanding. And I think Limbo is amazing, a beautiful frustrating game. I hear Dark Souls is quite like that, although that’s not my style of game.
I’m up to chapter 17. I am going to finish this. Then I can move on to all the other games that have been mouldering away — amazing ones like Year Walk and Monument and The World Ends With You.