Apple Arcade has continued to grow its curated selection of games, bringing in exclusive titles from independent developers and porting over some neat games that work wonderfully on touchscreens. But the latest one to grab my attention is Limbo+, and if you have an iPad mini, I suggest you give it a go.
I first played the original version of Limbo on a PC years ago; I can't quite recall when but it was released in 2010 at a time when indie games were enjoying a lot of attention. Yet Limbo stood out from the crowd and now in a rejigged version of iPhones, iPads and Macs (it was released in its original form on iOS in 2013), it's just as intriguing as it ever was.
Limbo is a 2D adventure where you control a young boy who wakes up in a fuzzy black-and-white world; you’re given no context as to why the kid is here or what you need to do other than progress right. Obviously, Limbo is about being trapped in post-death limbo, yet it doesn't just rely on its dark visuals and low-fi sound effects to communicate that.
Like a darker version of an old-school platformer, Limbo is very happy killing the boy in the most brutal of fashions from the slightest of missteps; he can be skewered, squashed, beheaded, impaled, and brutally chopped to ribbons by bear traps. Yet as this takes place in limbo, he always respawns just moments before a clumsy jump or failure to spot imminent death takes its deadly effect.
This is very handy as Limbo is as much a puzzle game as it is an adventure platformer. You’ll be confronted with all manner of obstacles or dangers that you need to pass or get away from, with the answer not being immediately obvious without some deadly and gruesome trial and error.
There’s one iconic moment that’ll very likely have the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I won’t spoil it, but people who’ve played Limbo will know what I mean; trust me it’s as skin-crawling today as it was more than a decade ago.
Also despite the monochrome aesthetic, Limbo takes you and the boy to all manner of locations, from swamps and woods to an urban setting that’s got a film noir meets post-apocalypse vibe. Eschewing color enables the details of the game’s foreground to stand out while letting you peruse for subtleties in the fuzzy background. I think it looks utterly, darkly gorgeous.
Marvelous on mini
So what makes Limbo worth playing today, especially if you’ve already completed it? Well, Apple Arcade’s Limbo adds new puzzles and expands the adventure. And if you’ve not played it then I really think it’s a great game for an iPad mini 6 and other compact iPads.
By default, Limbo doesn't tell you what its controls are. But on a PC that’s easily figured out by tapping on the usual direction-governing keys. On an iPad, this involves a little more initiation and experimentation. I feel the iPad mini is the perfect size for this, giving you enough of a screen to appreciate the look of Limbo but also a compact enough tablet to easily hold and tap when tackling a tricky rope puzzle.
Add in the generally excellent Retina displays found on the iPad minis (I played Limbo on an iPad mini 5) and solid sound, and Limbo just feels great on Apple’s compact tech slate.
If you’ve signed up to Apple Arcade, I compel you to give it a go, even if you decide its minimal interface and occasionally taxing difficulty might seem off-putting.