Friday, July 22, 2011

Limbo - Amazing Indie Game Review

 PLATFORMS: PS3 (also on the Xbox360)
GENRE(S): Puzzle/Platformer

You are a boy in a dark forest, a mere silhouette who must traverse a harsh landscape fraught with one trial after another, with little to break up the aura of despair. Sounds a bit like the description you might find on a painting at a pretentious art show, doesn’t it? Instead, it is the world of Limbo, a game from PlayDead that was a hit on the Xbox360 and has now made it’s way to the PS3. Can Limbo grab the attention and provide hours of entertainment, or is there just a little too much darkness and despair?

Your first glimpses of Limbo set the tone for the entirety of the game. Your character, and much of the items in the game, are dark silhouettes against a stark grey background. This grey and black color scheme is broken up only by the occasional hint of white, such as your characters eerie eyes, and the lovely wiggling brain suckers that you fall victim to at unexpected moments. There is really no story to speak of given to you; you wake up in a forest that is set in this harsh world, and proceed to make your way through the game.
In addition to there being no explanation as to what your character is doing, or what his goal may be, there is very little structure to the game. I don’t mean this in an open world sort of way, as you must progress through things in a very specific order. What I mean by “no structure” is that there isn’t any sort of levels or anything else to break up the gameplay. Your character simply proceeds from one challenge to the next throughout a seemingly endless world. While the game does save automatically at fairly regular intervals (as you get past certain points), you won’t know if it has saved or not until you die and are placed back into the game at the last checkpoint.

And die you will. While Limbo has around 40 “levels”, they are actually quite short when measured in distance. When measured in time it takes you to get past them, however, many of them will take what seems like eons. Limbo has the basic “walk forward, fall off ledge, die, walk forward, jump over ledge, land on spike, die, walk forward, jump over ledge, roll ball onto spike, climb up wall, get smashed by giant falling box, die” sort of schematic down to a science. While there are parts that you pretty much breeze through, it more often seems like you are crawling your way through the game, one inch at a time. There are no time limits, and you have unlimited lives (you’ll need them), but even with that Limbo can be an exercise in sheer frustration, with each level more ridiculously hard than the last.
Limbo is a game for those who like to be challenged–constantly. To progress in the game, you’ll need to think creatively and find seemingly impossible solutions. Oftentimes, though, finding the solution is not the hardest part–carrying out is. Many of the puzzles require absolutely perfect timing, and even if you’ve made it through before, you won’t always nail it the first (or the fifth) time. When you do finally make it through, you are greeted by yet another seemingly impossible task.
The look and feel of Limbo is very stark and unforgiving, but also quite beautiful. The harsh black and white landscape will appeal to those with an eye for art, and it has a somewhat dreary industrial style to it. The sound of Limbo is very suited to the art style, as it is similarly utilitarian, forgoing music or speech for just the sounds of whatever 

machinery/water/massive black spiders may be inhabiting that portion of the game. The controls are quite basic as well: your character can only walk and jump, and he can’t do either of those very impressively. You won’t see any spectacular double jumps here, but the plodding gait of the main character does fit in well with the feel of the game as a whole.

Final Thoughts:
Limbo is a very dark, challenging game that will appeal to many for its avante garde visual style and often frustratingly difficult gameplay. The stark black and white backgrounds and mute characters are certainly a break from the norm, and one certainly can’t complain of a lack of challenge. However, these same traits that appeal to some will turn others off. I recommend Limbo to gamers who are into solving difficult puzzles, creepy yet strangely beautiful art, or just want something entirely different.


  1. Nice review and I really like this game! If I have the money I will get this. Thanks for review!

  2. I tried the demo of this game, and it's right up there with Braid, going to buy it as soon an I have some more Microsoft points!

  3. I have seen this game, but not actually played it, I'm not too sure if it's my kind of thing or not.