When an art-game is made, it is celebrated. It’s picked apart by many groups, eaten and cherised. Unfortunately, art-games have never hit mainstream appeal. I can safely say it’s a lack of actual ‘game’ part that keeps them from reaching new heights, putting message above game and not within game. Limbo transcends this trend and instead reaches a mainstream audience. It’s sold tremendously well and has gone on in many minds as a candidate for showing how games can deal with metaphorical issues, in an artsy way.
I’m not the biggest fan of the game, replaying it, I find it somewhat lacking in some areas. It feels heavily metaphorical and authorial intent isn’t always evident. Thematics have been brought to video-games before, in Shadow of the Colossus and Braid, but I do think this effort finally brings that to the mainstream. We’ve conquered the emotional front, the narrative front, the metaphorical front and now all that is left is the contextual front. Actually, that last one just got conquered by Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and it’s being conquered before in games such as Passage… so it’s over then. I can then safely say 2010 was the year that games finally found they feet, and become a qualified art-form. We now have that bedrock that film and literature now uphold whenever their artistic integrity is questioned. There is no doubt about it, we are an art form.
I have to thank Limbo for bringing this to the mainstream, but I don’t think it’s the biggest showing or even the best game for it. I hated how the ending removed control, but the little section before that (when you burst through the glass) was fantastic. I was expecting the game to be cyclical, as that would pretty much make it my game of the year for bringing an entirely new artistic technique to video-games. I don’t think we’ll get to that device, just yet, but I can hope. Limbo is the most important game of the year because it brought the ‘games are art’ thing to the masses, and it released just around Ebert’s argument against them. Perfect timing.
That’s Limbo then, and I haven’t a clue why it sold actually quite as well as it did. YouTube was soaring with ‘Call of Duty‘ commentators playing it and many, many sites triumphing it as the said above. It’s kind of sparring when you consider two years ago we had Braid and I barely remember hearing anything about it (thanks to Destructoid for getting that on my PS3). I say Braid is more powerful, but Limbo is probably more accessible, having less than three interactions. Move, jump, interact. What a clever, simple game.