Review of LIMBO

by Paul

I'd heard good things about this game and after buying it, my next few hours were spent enthralled.

LIMBO, a monochromatic 2D sidescroller, is Playdead's first ever game release. Originally exclusive to the Xbox 360 marketplace, it is now available for most platforms.

Its art style is very distinct and unlike anything that I've ever seen before as well as featuring one of the most interesting and thought provoking storylines I've had the fortune of playing.

LIMBO is both gameplay and puzzle solving at its best.

LIMBO's Gameplay

LIMBO's gameplay is very distinct and original. You control an unnamed little boy using standard 2D platforming controls along with the ability to push and pull objects to navigate your way through a forest. This comes in handy due to the numerous puzzles you'll encounter along the way.

The puzzles themselves seamlessly blend in with the background of the game. Some are simple and easy to solve, while others take quite some time and will often have you try everything at your disposal before eventually figuring out that now apparent solution.

As there's no direct combat, LIMBO relies on the obstacles presented to keep you occupied and retain your interest in the game and it does this very well. None of the puzzles seemed repetitive and almost all of them required a unique solution.

Hazards are also plentiful whether they be bear traps, giant swinging maces or bottomless pits, you must weave your character through the barrage of booby traps left in your path.

Thankfully, checkpoints are generous and well placed to ensure that you're not left frustrated and feeling like the game's cheated you should you happen to fall victim to LIMBO's clever level design.

LIMBO has numerous puzzles throughout
LIMBO has numerous puzzles throughout

LIMBO's Storyline

LIMBO. That's the storyline. Throughout the entire game, you only see the title (aside from credits) and nothing else. This means that LIMBO's storyline is entirely dependant on what you make of it.

This could seem dangerous as most AAA title games contain storylines that have had their edges rounded and polished so that the developers know exactly what you'll be getting. LIMBO doesn't.

As the storyline's up for interpretation, the best way to play it is in one sitting. It's a fairly short game so a long afternoon's gaming session should see you completing it from start to finish, but doing so allows you to immerse yourself and fully experience LIMBO.

The desolate landscape and general solitude of LIMBO are the biggest influences on the storyline. Throughout the game you'll only encounter a handful of other humans, be they friend, foe or even lifeless.

The game's ending is also marvellous. For me, this was when everything suddenly clicked into place and I understood it all. Others, however, are rather more confused as illustrated by the fact that Google auto completes "LIMBO ending WTF".

LIMBO is a lonely place
LIMBO is a lonely place

LIMBO's Graphics & Audio

As you may well have noticed, LIMBO is monochromatic and it's certainly a unique art style - aside from retro games such as Asteroids and Pong, of course.

This adds to the feeling of solitude and it also makes the game very picturesque. It's such a simple graphical style but it adds so much.

The audio for the game is superb too. There's no backing music - more often than not it's very fitting atmospheric sounds. It's rare to know where the source of the background noise is coming from which adds a certain depth to the game.

This is due to the person responsible for the audio, Martin Stig Andersen, wanting most of the audio to be decided by the player's imagination. The result of this is somewhat distorted sounds which are interpreted differently by each player. Andersen also stated that the audio isn't meant to guide the player's emotions in the slightest.

Even with nothing there, the audio gives the sense that something is
Even with nothing there, the audio gives the sense that something is

Summary

Some people have classified LIMBO as a horror game. I wouldn't. I'd be more inclined to class it as a psychological adventure. It means something different to everyone and that's one of LIMBO's biggest selling points.

If you can set an afternoon aside to play this wonderful game, you certainly won't forget it. There's a lot of games on the market now, but the team at Playdead have managed to create something unique and special with LIMBO.

The art style and audio allow you to get lost in the somewhat morbid world of LIMBO and for such a low cost, it certainly isn't something you want to miss.

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"Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters Limbo." ESRB Rating: T for TEEN.

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LIMBO
LIMBO
Updated: 01/02/2013, Paul
 
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Seelyon on 06/20/2015

I'm a huge fan of Limbo and all the other atmospheric games out there. It's definitely got some horror elements to it but I agree with you that its really just part of the psychological adventure.

Paul on 01/10/2013

That's not too far away from the end I don't think!

JoHarrington on 01/10/2013

I've played a bit more, but struggling to get past the cogs. I'm still enjoying it immensely though.

Paul on 01/08/2013

Katie - No problem :) it's well worth the review!

Paul on 01/08/2013

Jo - Did you manage to finish it? :P

katiem2 on 01/08/2013

Sounds like a great game with your very descriptive review, thanks for the tidbits of a good game.

JoHarrington on 01/07/2013

I've been playing this, as well you know. I really loved it. Platformer and strategy puzzles, what's not to love?

Paul on 01/04/2013

Matti - It really does!

Matti on 01/03/2013

Limbo is definitely a game that catches your attention. I'd recommend it.

Paul on 12/31/2012

Thanks for your tips, Jerrico :)


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