Limbo wasn’t on my radar until I was exposed to a trailer for the game a few months back. I definitely have more of an eclectic taste in games, something that’s essentially a must have quality when you write about them, but I definitely enjoy the lonely, atmospheric games more than others. Sure I can spend countless hours in one shooter after another, but it’s games like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and Silent Hill that really tickle my fancy. Now, I’m very happy to say I can add Limbo to that list.
If Ico and Braid got together to make sweet baby love, Limbo would be their desaturated, brooding offspring. It resembles the former more than the latter, since it’s chock full of puzzles, has a truly unique and powerful atmosphere, and is light on story. All you know is this boy with beady glowing eyes is traversing the terrifying realm of Limbo in search of his sister. And honestly, that’s all you’ll ever need to know. In case you’re still in the dark, Limbo is a side scrolling platformer with a completely black and white color palette. You explore a mostly empty world either solving puzzles or attacking/defending yourself from the beings that live in this world. One of the strongest elements about the game are its puzzles, which are extraordinarily clever and get progressively difficult as you get farther into the game. I’m not terribly adept at solving puzzles, though by some miracle I was able to make my way through Ico and the original Resident Evil’s without much trouble, but the conundrums in this game are never too difficult to solve. Instead, they’re just hard enough to gift you with a strong feeling of satisfaction after you’ve completed one of them.
Limbo is the type of game that you’ll need to have the volume up while playing it. Not just because it’s necessary to complete the level of immersion you’ll need to have to fully enjoy this game, but because the sound effects are actually crucial to knowing when something wicked is near or when you should be wary of a trap. But really, even if you’re a professional puzzle cracker I highly recommend playing the game with the sound up.
It’s strange to be praising such a short game with almost non-existent story, but Limbo is one of those games that comes along every once in a while that can really rejuvenate one’s hope for amazing game design. You’ll be continuously pushed to think outside the box, and multiple times I had to stop and just stare at the screen for minutes at a time, just thinking. It’s a workout for the brain, and a beautiful one at that.
Limbo costs 1200 Microsoft Space Bucks, has no multiplayer other than leaderboards, and the single player campaign took me about 3-4 hours to beat my first time through. It’s not the longest game that’s out there for that price but it’s definitely one of the best in terms of quality and overall experience, and it’s easily the most memorable. Trust me, you’ll want to play this more than once.
Final Score: 5 out of 5