Downloadable games have seen a lot of success with titles such as, Super Meat Boy, Outland, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Bastion. Another game that has garnered a lot of success is Limbo which was originally released on July 21, 2010 for the Xbox Live Arcade. Almost a year later it would be released for the Playstation Network. It was eventually released for the PC via Steam on August 2nd of this year. Limbo was developed by Danish game developer Playdead. It was definitely a game that I was anxious to play especially after watching the trailer. I got the chance to play Limbo after a long wait. Is this downloadable title a success or a failure? Read the review to find out.
Limbo is a 2D puzzle-platform adventure game in which you play as young nameless boy who wakes up in the middle of a forest. He doesn’t know how he got there or who brought him there. His main goal is to find his lost sister while avoiding the game’s various enemies and environmental hazards. The story may be minimal but it still manages to draw the player into its dark and lonely world. The one downside of Limbo is that it takes only 3 hours to complete. The game doesn’t offer any other game modes but it does feature a list of achievements. The game can be played using an Xbox 360 Controller for the PC or via the keyboard which is what I used. You use the arrow keys for movements and the Control key for performing actions such as grabbing or pulling objects. The game also features a pretty good physics based system. Standing on a floating box will cause it to rock back and forth. Swinging on a tree branch will cause it to sway. Jumping on a thin tree branch will cause it to snap.
The game offers players puzzles that start off pretty easy and then become more challenging which makes solving them all the more rewarding. Limbo does feature a fairly generous checkpoint system so you won’t have to backtrack too far should you die at any point in the game. The game utilizes a style called “trial and death” and showcases death scenes that are as gruesome as they are emotional. Death is an unfortunate part of Limbo’s world but an effective one nonetheless. You will get caught in bear traps, get impaled on spikes or by a giant spider, get electrocuted, drown in water, get crushed by a giant bolder, get crushed by spinning gears and so on and so forth. Unfortunately traps aren’t recognized until the death scenes occur. Death happens a lot so it’s a matter of learning and trying. There is no health meter and you have an unlimited number of lives.
The first thing you will notice with Limbo is its unique graphics style. The game is mainly black, white and gray which makes it look like a noire movie. The film grain adds to that effect. Limbo is dark, lonely and haunting and because of that you never know what dangers lurk ahead giving players a sense of urgency, caution and awareness. Shadows are ominous and creepy. Grass moves underneath the boy’s feet. The young boy leaves a trail of dirt underneath his feet as he moves. Those small touches go a long way to offering players an amazing visual experience. The game’s death scenes are brutal without being gory or over-the-top. It’s a great looking game that manages to run at a solid 60 FPS.
The game’s audio further drags the player into its creepy and lonely atmosphere. There is no dialog at all. The game doesn’t have a soundtrack either. However, the ambient sounds are very effective. You will hear wind that blows eerily, water hitting the side of a boat, dirt underneath the young boy’s feet, gears grinding, rustling grass, etc. Subtle sound effects also warn the player of the impending dangers ahead. The game’s minimal usage of music further adds to its wonderful sound experience.
Limbo is a great game that I really enjoyed. It sucks the player into its dark, desolate and lonely world very effectively. Death occurs many times and it leaves an emotional effect on those who play it. The game’s graphics are creepy and dark, yet they still remain hauntingly beautiful. Puzzles start off easy but get more challenging which makes solving them more rewarding. It has a simple yet effective story. Limbo is proof that you don’t need a huge budget to provide a solid gaming experience. The one downside is that the game has is that it only takes 3 hours to complete. There are various achievements that you can get throughout your adventure. You would be doing yourself a major disservice by not playing Limbo because it is an awesome and emotional rollercoaster ride that I would happily recommend to anyone looking to play a great video game.