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Limbo (2010) and the Limbo soundtrack

I actually started playing this before i started Bastion but then stopped because the game wasn't really grabbing me after 8 or so chapters. It was pretty enough, but i felt that it lacked a sense of momentum and direction and the puzzles weren't interesting enough for me to decide to stick it out.

My brother convinced me that i should play it out because he thought i would like the second half, so i did and eventually finished the game, and yeah - the second half of the game was much better and more engaging to me than the first. And that's interesting to me because despite a very uniform feel of the game from an overall approach - sound and visual design in particular but also in the... philosophy of the puzzles (for lack of a better term), i think the game suffers from schizophrenia. The second half of the game felt like i was playing a completely different game from the first half, and i'm not sure what to think about that. It's possible that if i played it all in one sitting i'd get a better sense of the game's flow.

According to the wiki, the developers threw out something like 70% of the content of the game because they felt it didn't fit the eventual game's context, and i think that kind of shows; in Bastion, they introduced the jump mechanic so late into the game and used it so little that it felt like an incomplete idea that they couldn't expand on in the way that they wanted because either the game was getting too big or they had a deadline to hit. I got that same sense towards the end of Limbo, particularly with the brilliant idea of using the music track [Gravity Jump] as a timing aid, and the gravity mechanic in general. Not that it needed *much* more, but given how much of the early game felt like a slowly evolving stream of ever-increasing complexity of puzzles and tension, the pace of the ending by comparison felt like a sprint.

I listened to the soundtrack way before i knew anything about the game, and it sticks out as being really amazing, one of my current favorite things to listen to on loop. It's funny because i listened to the Amnesia soundtrack before the Limbo one and i remember thinking of the former, "huh, this doesn't seem to actually fit with what i understand the game to be (survival horror) because it's too latched on to tonality and regularity," and then when i listened to the Limbo soundtrack, i remember thinking, "this is exactly what the Amnesia soundtrack should be." It's a short soundtrack, but all of the tracks have a great sense of unity to them that fits the unity of the game's minimalist and film noir nature. A few tracks invoke a hazy calm but in an undefined way, that leads into a couple of tracks that do fascinating things with microtonality and texture to create a true sense of disorientation/horror/despair, and it then ends with the aforementioned Gravity Jump that has some wonderful rhythmic richness to it in a minimalist setting.

once September rolls around i'll probably play through it again and see if i can make a better sense of the big picture, maybe try that silly achievement of "finish the game with 5 deaths or less." I can't spend too much time on such a thing, though; things will relax some once september rolls around, but the the ball of music writing, music programming, and project collaboration will be in full swing.

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March 2017