Limbo, if you’re not aware, was a fantastic platform puzzler released for a glut of platforms in 2010 by a studio called Playdead. It’s one of my personal favourite indie games of the era, involving a boy travelling through an eerie and treacherous environment.
Homebrew development for the Commodore 64 is likely one of the biggest communities out there, and while plenty of modern games have been ported to the 80’s system over the years by hobbyists, a new version of Limbo is gaining a lot of attention as it’s actually being coded by one of Limbo’s original developers, Søren Trautner Madsen.
While development has been ongoing since at least October 2016 (when a proof of concept video was uploaded) Madsen released a very nicely edited trailer last week that proves development is still going swimmingly:
While strangely upbeat music is used considering the themes of Limbo, many aspects of the first level from the original are shown like the spider, the bear traps and the rope swing. For each progress update video that he releases, Maden also adds in-depth descriptions of how he’s pulled off what he’s achieved on the 35-year-old computer. For instance, here is his explanation of the rope:
“I actually did not think I would be able to pull that off. It IS actually “physics based” – but obviously with extremely simple and hacked “physics”. The rope consists of 8 1-dimensional springs below each other, a very hacked velocity-feedback from the spring above, A table lookup to shorten the rope on the y-axis when the bottom moves to the side, AND pieces of hacked and weird math that even I don’t really know what does any more.”
He also writes about what he wishes to achieve, with aspects of the game to look forward to including the hotel sign, weather machine and reverse gravity puzzles. He even wants to add the ending but is quick to point out that it will still have no explanation (damn it). Regardless, Limbo’s dark colour scheme and silhouette art style fits in perfectly with the C64’s limited palette and small pixel count.
So, when can you expect to play Limbo on your trusty Commodore? It sounds as if we shouldn’t hold our breath. While Maden is developing this with the full blessing of the Playdead team, he is creating it in his spare time while working on Playdead’s latest project fulltime. He jokes that that might be in 2024 – at least, I hope he’s joking. However, his hope is to eventually release a 10-15 minute version that we can all play.