Limbo, a game that you could easily claim is one of the seminal releases of this generation. We loved it in our original review, as did pretty much everyone else, and now the beautiful black and white beast has been ported over to the Vita. In fact, the PS3 review by our very own Gareth Gallagher is still very much appropriate for the majority of gameplay and artistic style comments – if you know nothing about Limbo then make sure you give it a read. Otherwise, continue on here, dear visitor, for our impressions on some of the Vita specific points coming from this port.
The news that Limbo was coming to the Vita seemed to split gamers into two groups – one was extremely excited for the chance to play this monochrome masterpiece on the Vita’s OLED screen and the other was horrified at the price being requested for a game that is nearly three years old (if you take the Xbox 360 release date of July 2010). With this console price not having changed since launch these web pundits were aghast that Playdead could still be charging the same amount for the same game, especially when the Steam price for the PC release seems to slowly be trickling downwards. Since release however Playdead have won back some support by ensuring that Limbo is a Cross Buy title, so if you own Limbo on the PS3 you now own it on the Vita. Grats. Even more of a win for those of you with EU PS Plus subscriptions who received the game for free a few months back – two freebies for the price of one. The whole question of Limbo’s price-to-length ratio has dominated discussions each time it has been released, and while it’s disappointing to find ourselves here again at least some concessions have been made to cater for the modern PSN market.
Moving away from the opinions of these Internet Warriors and to the actual quality of the game, and this port of Limbo is as perfect as you could want it to be. Original developers Playdead have worked closely with porting developer Double Eleven (of LittleBigPlanet Vita fame) to ensure that the transition of the game from big screen to handheld was as painless as possible. One cracking decision that seems to have been taken very early in the porting process was that there would be no touch or motion controls added to the Vita version – Playdead CEO Dino Patti was very clear in his vision for this mobile version of the game, stating that including touchscreen controls would have forced the company to ‘rethink the game’. Clearly this desire to ensure that Vita players have a chance to discover the original experience is more than welcome, and you can well appreciate why someone would shudder at the very thought of the loss of immersion that would have been felt by tapping their way past bear traps.
This dedication to the vision of Limbo has ensured that the game works perfectly mechanically; from an aesthetics point of view the visuals of this Vita version blow everything you’ve seen before out of the water. The OLED screen displays the monochrome world in an exquisite way, the game filling and using the screen so well that you could be forgiven for imagining that the Vita was designed to be a dedicated Limbo device. If you’ve played and enjoyed the visuals of Escape Plan then rest assured that Limbo looks even better on the screen. While the run time of around four hours is probably a bit too long for a single handheld sitting the chapter splits and the puzzle progression mean that Limbo does provide a great pick up and play experience. Trophy hunters can rejoice too – while gunning for the ‘No Point in Dying’ trophy you can just stick the device into sleep mode whenever you want and then continue at your leisure.
There are caveats however with the handheld experience – turning headphones up to make the most of the sound (or lack thereof) will give you the classic stereo hiss and the slightest glare can destroy the aesthetics of the game, although the exact level will depend on whether you have a screen protector on or not. Such are the travails of handheld gaming and are no fault of the developer – find yourself a nice dark room and figure out what sound level works best with your cans and you’ll be in for a treat with Limbo.
The game then is still exactly the same as it was before – a beautiful, frustrating, perfectly long gem of a platformer with some slight pacing issues. If you’ve got a Vita, and even if you’ve played Limbo before, then you owe it to yourself to download this game and marvel at how good games can actually be, how good they can look. It’s come far too late to be a system seller, or probably to even interest many of the more hardcore gamers who may have already double dipped, but it’s a game that fits the Vita perfectly. It could very well be time for you to revisit the world of Limbo – just try to avoid all of those instant death dangers.