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Limbo of the Lost

How to steal from Elder Scrolls and not get away with it

1:00 PM on 02.08.2013 // Allistair Pinsof

The bizarre and very bad Limbo of the Lost

Limbo of the Lost is the stuff nightmares are made of (see above) and the stuff of lawsuits, as well.

It's a perfect storm of all things terrible that makes a game in the adventure genre -- a genre that even at its worst can only be subpar -- so vapid, bizarre, and poorly executed that it somehow transcends the ridiculous and becomes a surreal, captivating experience.

And if you get a distinct Elder Scrolls or World of Warcraft vibe, or suddenly feel nostalgic for Beetlejuice, it likely has to do with Limbo of the Lost stealing art from all those things. Having the ghost of better games linger over one of the most terrible games of all time is what makes Limbo of the Lost an oddity and a trash classic.

Limbo of the Lost's ending: No it doesn't make any more sense if you play it.

Limbo of the Lost's development tells a tale of how a developer can lose integrity while fighting to get a game on shelves. One can say that the game industry itself is run on the rampant stealing and repeating of others' ideas. Limbo of the Lost stands out in this respect, as it is full of its own terrible, bizarre ideas -- though, no publisher took it lightly when they discovered it stole art assets from their games.

Co-creators Steve Bovis and Tim Croucher began the journey to release in the early '90s, developing it for the Atari ST. Their publisher shut down the project due to the Atari ST's dwindling relevance on the market, so the two went back to the drawing board.

The same thing happened again in 1995, when they developed the game for the no longer relevant Amiga 1200 and Amiga CD32. After years of learning 3D game design, the two went at it again but this time with *ahem* success. Limbo of the Lost released in Europe on September 28, 2007 and nearly a year later in the US.

Feast your eyes on what the trailer exclaims are "realistic skin and bone" -- a real selling point for the title.

Despite a decade of development, no one paid the game any mind upon release. Not until a site called GamePlasma (which now links to malware) took notice to some familiar locations: areas from The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Thief 3 were directly ripped and thrown into Limbo of the Lost with nary a change. Once this information got out -- brought forth by the always wonderful Rock, Paper Shotgun -- forum users gathered to see how deep the well went.

Skulls from Diablo II! The freaking hand from Black & White! The developer's official site is a GeoCities page! Why is there concept art for a character called Cranny Faggot? Why is the developer promoting lighting and lip-syncing as features in 2007? The madness comes to a peak once the game is installed and played.

The blend of terrible design filled with elements from familiar classics makes Limbo of the Lost a game unlike any other; an unintentional success -- successful at what, I don't exactly know. Instead of using others' assets to tie a plot together, an insane plot is devised to put together and justify the stolen areas of other games. The result is madness of a caliber that will likely never be achieved in a commercially released (and subsequently recalled) game again.

Though I don't condone piracy, it only seems right with this title.

Spotting the stolen assets makes for a strange form of trivia with Limbo of the Lost.

Allistair Pinsof,
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