Sawbuck Gamer

Miseria

Stuck In Limbo

Miseria is moody, but it’s a mood we’ve felt before.

By Sam Barsanti • July 24, 2013

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

Many years ago, one high school outcast decided to don a spiky hairstyle and dress in all black to freak out the boring “normal” people. Then, more and more people chose to become similarly styled outcasts, and what was once a statement became just another fashion choice. Miseria isn’t the first kid to develop an obsession with bleak morbidity—it’s not the second or third either.

A puzzle game with more than a passing resemblance to 2010’s monochromatic adventure Limbo, Miseria tasks you with helping a tiny round creature named Lurk escape from a series of gloomy black and gray mazes. Rather than control Lurk directly, you rotate his world to guide him toward the goal and away from the sawblades and bat creatures that are trying to kill him. A gigantic spider named Grunzel waits beneath you, its spindly legs constantly reaching up toward the maze and ready to gobble you up if you fall off. It feels like a half-hearted homage to the nightmare spider that constantly stalked you throughout Limbo, but it’s not as creepy here as it was there.

While Miseria’s look is well-worn, the puzzling fares better. There’s an exciting sense of controlled mayhem as you rush to finish a level. Later levels feel unfair, though, as the tilting is too inaccurate to hold up to the increased complexity, and the tight time limits don’t allow for much experimentation. Miseria is clever, but it hinges most of its appeal on an aesthetic you’ve seen before. It’s not the first to wear all black and be covered in spiders. It’s just dying its hair and pretending to look as cool as the other guys.

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9 Responses to “Stuck In Limbo”

  1. SamPlays says:

    I was the first person to strut a real pair of balls-out jeans. The “normal” people were freaked out to varying degrees. I’m pretty sure no one was bored.

    http://vimeo.com/19229167

  2. Chum Joely says:

    “dyeing”

  3. NakedSnake says:

    Sam, this sounds like a stupid question, but does the game feel genuine? With these iphone/mobile games, I always wonder whether they’re just cash-ins, or if there’s an earnest & eager developer behind it.

    • SamPlays says:

      One Sam is as good as any other, so I’ll take this one… yes.

    • Sam_Barsanti says:

      Yeah, I think so…like I say up there, the art style is just Limbo, but I think the gameplay itself feels genuine enough. As a whole I don’t think it’s just a cash-in to trick people who liked Limbo, I just think the developer dug the whole vibe that game was giving off.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Thanks, Sams!

  4. crakkie says:

    That doesn’t really look anything like Limbo. It doesn’t seem to play anything like Limbo either. The reviewer has an obsession with a 2009 game’s art style, and nothing can ever, ever resemble it, on pain of meh.

  5. EmperorNortonI says:

    I suppose it’s just a defect in me, but when I hear that a game is partly or primarily puzzle oriented, I lose all interest.  Match 3 games?  No.  Tetris?  No.  Puzzle platformers?  Oh god, please, no.  I’ve stayed away from Portal because I know it would just drive me nuts.

    I spent much of my childhood banging my head against the wall of impossible point and click adventure games.  Bad habits and poor expectations based off that history still haunt me to this day.  I’m way to quick to conclude that a puzzle is unsolvable, or that a puzzle is not actually a puzzle but just a part of the background, or that a part of the background is really a puzzle that needs to be solved, and the whole genre is simply not fun for me.

    Give me a set of stats, some sprits, and a grid map for a tactics game any day.