Sawbuck Gamer


Invader Lim

Lim engages in gender-based geometric espionage.

By Drew Toal • September 21, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

Since talking with Mark Of The Ninja developer Nels Anderson, games that champion sneaking over shooting have been very much on my mind. His game, full of smoke bombs, grappling hooks, shadows, and Germans is polished and relatively sophisticated.

Lim has neither ninjas nor Germans, but boils covert stealth movement down to its elemental parts. You play a square—literally, a square—that must circumvent spaces filled with different color squares. You can project whatever ethnic or nationalistic spin you like on it, but if you don’t engage your stealth mode, you’ll quickly be found out and mercilessly bludgeoned by the hostile foreign blocks. The longer you keep your stealth mode activated, the more your block-person shakes and the more inhibited your movement.

At least, this was my predictable white male’s interpretation of the game—before I learned that Lim tackles gender roles, and how people/squares must change themselves in order to progress unbothered through levels/life toward a sense of belonging and happiness. The two options seem to be, 1) getting violently set upon for being different, or, 2) camouflaging yourself until the screen shakes so much it looks like you’ll explode. It’s a lose-lose situation, one that Lim eloquently conveys in its stealth.

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810 Responses to “Invader Lim”

  1. that is the weirdest stealth game I’ve ever played. Also that “Boom We Gotcha” effect kinda gave me a headache.

    But let’s get back to Mark of the Ninja. Best 2d game of 2012 or Bestest 2d game of 2012? Discuss…

  2. Captain Internet says:

    A simplistic, buggy mess of a game with a profound idea attached to it is still a simplistic, buggy mess of a game.

    It’s very definition of pretentious.This reminds me of going to one of the degree shows at St. Martin’s College of Art in South London a few years back. Someone’s final-year fine art piece was a metal sieve placed over a rock. They’d called it ‘Gulag’.

    • Girard says:

       Hey, just because Duchamp’s Fountain was almost 100 years ago doesn’t mean we can’t lazily ape it and pretend what we’re doing is just as inventive!

      This game is seriously broken – sounds seem to randomly start and stop, and at present I am in an unplayable state where I was somehow shoved outside of the maze.

      I don’t think the simplicity is so much of a drawback, as it invites multiple interpretations of the central conceit, which is cool. And maybe by abstracting out the problem enough to the point where the player can draw connections between the precarious situation of a disguised spy and the precarious situation of fitting in socially/gender-wise could be useful for, say, a teenage boy who is really into ninjas but hasn’t really given much thought to gender performativity or whatever.

      But any sort of aesthetic or conceptual merits the game does or doesn’t have fall to the wayside when the game itself is largely a broken mess.

    • Electric Dragon says:

       Did they come from Greece and have a thirst for knowledge?

    • caspiancomic says:

       Yeah, I was keen to get to the end to see if Drew was serious about the game grappling with gender issues, and if true how the game manages it, but one of the “enemy” squares plugged up the passages you use to move between areas and won’t move, and can’t be moved by me, meaning I can no longer progress. I’d play it again to get back to that same area, but your movement is so draggingly slow (possibly on purpose to underscore some sort of thematic thesis, but now I’ll never know) that I can’t really be bothered.

      • Maddog says:

        do you really not get the point? SOMETIMES LIFE ISN’T A GAME YOU CAN WIN especially where gender performativity is concerned.  The bugs aren’t bugs: they’re a feature.  Be concerned with the bugs in the social machine.

  3. Andy Wallace says:

    I find it really hard to believe that this wasn’t at all inspired by a Parsons student’s work from last year:

    Her game is called Liminal and deals with a square that must mask its gender identity. This one is a more developed game, but the basic (very unique) concept and name are right there.

  4. Andy Wallace says:

    EDIT: Though my first comment was removed as spam because of the link. Sorry about the double post.