Developed by Playdead, Limbo was the first in the line of 2010’s Xbox Live Summer of Arcade lineup. Limbo is a platform noir-style game where you guide a nameless boy looking for his sister. He will have to go through a dangerous world filled with razor blades, electricity and many more things that could kill you several times over trying to figure out the tricky situations Limbo presents you with.
The first thing you’ll notice is the distinct style of Limbo. You wake up in a forest, and the only things you can see of the character are his eyes and usually the outline of his body. While most platforming games, like previous Xbox Live title Braid, are given high marks for their bright visuals and vibrant world, Limbo goes the total opposite and makes a world that’s almost tough to see. Black and white with a smidge of gray are the only colors you’ll see in this game, but everything still manages to stand out. The art direction in this game is definitely a strong point.
The puzzles in this game are as these kind of games usually are: trial-and-death. On a number of occasions, I was left to experiment different possibilites, figuring that death would await me 9/10ths of the time. Early on in the game, you’re navigating a forest and tricking spiders into placing their legs in a bear trap. As you move on, though, the game takes a more mechanical approach as you’re riding crates, pushing levers and dealing with gravity. In the early stages, I buy the Limbo being the name of the game. Later on, it takes on more of a “Momentum” theme, as you’ll need to time jumps and button presses properly in order to advance. Once you get to the part where you climb on the letters for “Hotel” (which I personally don’t understand the significance of that word in this game, to be honest), that’s when it flips. While the world may change, the intrigue of solving these puzzles maintains a strong level.
The sound is a really interesting point that could divide gamers. The game’s audio relies very much on the world itself, as the eerie sounds of the forest set the mood for the game. At the beginning, I was pretty immersed in the world as I was fearing a nearby spider, and then eventually spun into a cocoon by it. The thing is, once guns and mechanical objects figured into the equation, the feeling of being in this world was very different than it was when the boy wakes up. I just felt like I was avoiding obstacles rather the taking in this dark film-noir atmosphere Playdead had created. What Limbo did for me was add appreciation for music in games. When Limbo would play music on a few occasions, it was appropriate and it added intensity to the moment, but music is noticeably absent for a good portion of the game.
The game length is in the 5-8 hour range on your first playthrough. There is a 10-point achievement for completing the game in 5 hours or less with 5 or less deaths, and their are hidden eggs to search for throughout the world for added playtime should you choose to revisit Limbo at some point. Leaderboards are there, but only refer to percentage complete.
My overall opinion is to Check it Out. There’s a demo for Xbox Live, so there really isn’t much excuse not to check it out. It’s a fun puzzle game and a worthy Summer of… title on Xbox Live, but perhaps not the best platformer you can buy on Xbox Live Arcade.
But I Only Have a PS3!
Don’t own a 360 and cannot enjoy Limbo? Well, apparently someone has recreated the dreary world of Limbo in littleBIGplanet. Sure it’s only a few minutes, but the creator recaptured the feel the best they could using the LBP design suite.