Real Talk By: D.
One of the most anticipated Xbox Live Arcade games of the year has arrived. LIMBO is a puzzle-platformer by indie development studio Playdead. Filled with striking black-and-white visuals, is LIMBO a game that relies on cheap gimmicks, or is it this year’s Braid?
At it’s heart, LIMBO is a simple game, requiring only two buttons play. A is used to jump, and B is used to perform certain actions such as pulling an object or flipping a switch. While it may be simple, do not confuse LIMBO’s simplicity for a lack of complexity. LIMBO’s puzzles are some of the most cleverly structured puzzles featured in any game. Puzzles start off fairly easy, then ramp up in difficulty just as soon as you think that you are getting the hang of it. Puzzles often require a combination of precise thought and careful timing, with each puzzle leaving the player with an “ah” moment once the pieces come together. I highly advise against looking up the solutions to the puzzles, as solving each is a truly satisfying experience.
LIMBO’s black-and-white art style my come across as a gimmick at first glance, but still images do not do the game justice. In motion, LIMBO is a mesmerizing experience. The game’s art style does a fantastic job of creating an eerie atmosphere. Many times you have no idea when danger is going to pop up. When you do, LIMBO’s creepy and mysterious characters help maintain the eerie atmosphere. My only disappointment is that the latter parts of the game feel strangely devoid of life. However, the fascinating puzzles featured in the game’s concluding chapters more than make up for this. Many of the games puzzles require a trial and error process to solve, meaning you will die a lot. Trust me, you WILL die a lot, but rarely is it frustrating. Death is a part of the game, a satisfying part at that. Puzzles will often pop up when you least expect them, leading to your quick demise. The game is filled with traps where it almost seems expected that you die the first time. This is where the game’s art style truly shines. Deaths are often times gruesome and can be downright stunning to watch, taking away from any frustration one might feel from walking unexpectedly to their death. Also, the game autosaves after each completed puzzle, meaning death is more a part of the experience, and less of a punishment for the player. I’ll avoid describing any of the in game traps or deaths at the risk of spoiling them. They are simply something the player is better off experiencing for themselves.
LIMBO is a short game. On average, the first playthrough will probably take 3-5 hours to complete. Many will see this as a problem, especially considering the $15 price tag. Not to mention that LIMBO doesn’t really have a concrete story element to it as far as the game is concerned. There is some backstory for LIMBO available online, but the lack of story is not necessarily a bad thing, as it adds the LIMBO’s mystery. Despite it’s price tag, LIMBO is a must-buy. There are much lesser things you could spend $15 on.* Not only is LIMBO a game, but it is an experience, and one that shouldn’t be missed.
4.5 out of 5
+ Amazing art style.
+ Satisfying and rewarding puzzles that rarely cause frustration.
+ Eerie atmosphere.
+ Visually stunning deaths.
– Too short.
– It’s $15.