Stuck on Limbo
Tuesday, April 26, 2011 6 Comments
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a story on the Xbox Live Arcade games sale going on, and I mentioned that I was planning on finally picking up Limbo. Well, I did, and in short: it’s incredible. I didn’t initially intend on even writing a review for this game, but there are so many gamers out there like myself that still had not gotten around to this gem. There is so much to like about Limbo, I just couldn’t keep it to myself. Old school gamers and new school gamers alike have already come together to celebrate this game’s greatness, and for good reason.
Limbo, like many games of yesteryear, has a very simple premise: you’re a boy who wakes up in the middle of woods determined to find and save your sister. There are no elaborate cut scenes or tutorials, no long overdrawn dialogues; the game just simply starts. Limbo doesn’t hold your hand in any way, in fact, the button layouts aren’t even explained. You start the game watching the main character asleep in the woods, and he won’t ever wake until you press the A button, but the game doesn’t tell you this. The game won’t tell you which buttons to press at all, but thankfully there’s only two commands: jump (A) and grab/interact (X).
The first thing you’ll notice in Limbo is the sheer sense of wonder, the piquing curiosity that’s simply begging you to continue on despite the perils that block your path. There is very little music in this game in a traditional sense, but you’ll be surrounded by the game’s atmosphere via subtly haunting overtones, washed-out backgrounds, and only the tiny sound of your character’s feet to keep you company as you run through these enchanting worlds. Limbo is set entirely in black and white, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself stumbling into the traps and dangers that lay in the darkness around you.
And dangers, there are; you’ll face some of the most disturbing and goriest deaths you’ll ever see in a game. I was not expecting the amount of gore in this game by any means. Bear traps will decapitate your character, saws will dismember you, and pitfalls will break your little guy’s legs. These things will happen to you A LOT. You see, Limbo is a puzzle/platforming game that involves a lot of trial and error scenarios, where you’ll be forced to really think up a game plan to get you past the perils that loom over your head. One mistake, one mistimed jump will send you to your very gruesome death, I assure you.
As much as I loved Limbo, at the game’s end I ultimately felt unsatisfied. I wanted more. The game is short, less than 3-4 hours long, more if the puzzles are giving you trouble (the game’s puzzles straight up stumped me twice, and I’m no rookie when it comes to puzzle games). I also would have liked to see more creatures in the world, as in the beginning of the game, the levels are punctuated with occasional glimpses of other life forms, but towards the game’s end you’re pretty much out on your own. Though I enjoyed the sense of solitude and desolation for the same reasons why I enjoy them in games like Metroid, I was longing for more creatures to find to bring more sense to this crazy world I was in.
Though I was left with many unanswered questions with Limbo, I cannot hesitate to recommend it to anyone who will listen. Limbo is a fantastic single player experience that will pull you into the world you’ll be stuck in, reward you with its clever puzzles, and leave you hungry for more. I can’t wait for the next project from Playdead Studios, whether it’s another entry for Limbo or something entirely different, I’ll be picking it up day one.
For those of you who aren’t down with downloading games, or lack the hard drive space, Microsoft just released Limbo as part of an XBLA three-pack available at all retail stores.