limbo
After playing every multiplayer, replayable game we own, my roommate, my friend and I decided to scroll through the downloadable content on Xbox Live as a last attempt to stave off boredom. While most of the titles didn’t seem all too promising we suddenly stumbled upon a dark and eerie looking game with the ominous name of Limbo. Spontaneously my roommate bought the game; and suddenly we were in for hours of fun in this ambient, minimalistic little game.

screenshot1 Limbo doesn’t have a real plot to follow, you play as a little boy who is trying to save his sister who is stuck deep in limbo. There are no cut scenes and the game starts with seeing a boy laying in a grassy field and opening his eyes. Unfortunately while trying to save your sister, it seems like everything from other little boys to giant spiders and intricately laid out traps are trying to kill you in as many different ways as you can imagine. There are traps laid out everywhere, which you have to solve to advance to the conclusion of the game and mostly you will die more than once as you attempt to complete them. The game really relies on your trial and error skills, yet it rarely gets frustrating and always keeps your interest. As a puzzle based game, which flows without any levels or chapters Limbo succeeds with honors.

Graphically, Limbo is a feast for the eyes. The game is creepy but beautiful, making you feel like you are a lot smaller than everything else in it’s ambient little world. There is a lot of shocking content, like a multitude of children hung up by the neck, but this all seems to blend into the scenery and does not come off as offensive at all. screenshot2 The lack of music other than short intense sounds also adds to how intense the game feels. Being completely black and white, Limbo is a successful attempt at producing beauty without flooding our senses as other games like Gears of War do. Limbo succeeds in creating an aesthetically pleasing environment through simplicity, which is a great feat for a video game. This being one of the few indie titles that I really enjoyed, I look forward to discovering more independent games, although I can’t imagine finding one as visually attractive as Limbo.

The controls reside in the same simple formula as the rest of the game, they consist solely of run, jump and use. Mentally, however, Limbo can be extremely challenging and complex. Due to a great physics engine, the puzzles are realistic and difficult to overcome, and I guarantee that you will die at the very least more than twenty times while playing this title. We played the whole game in one go, but around the end we started getting a bit tired so I would suggest maybe finishing it in two sessions. screenshot6 There are walkthroughs readily available on the internet but it always feels better to complete such a game with as little help as possible. The only complaint I really have is that sometimes the lack of any complex controls causes Limbo to become frustrating, especially when the puzzles rely on how fast you can jump from a rope, climb down a ladder, jump over an obstacle onto another rope and then finally proceed to the next area. Nevertheless as you play on you gain a better sense of how fast you can run and jump. There are some scary scenes that may cause a minor panic attack (like the first time you encounter the spider, or actually all the parts with that hideous eight-legged beast) so be wary of those little surprises.

While indie games are not my forte, I am confident in saying that Limbo is worth the time I spent on it and I am sure in the future I will be replaying it with someone who hasn’t played it before. The game feels and flows like an intense dream, with it’s very abrupt beginning and ending, never ceasing to feel and look astounding. If you haven’t played many indie games this is a great one to start off with, as I will certainly be looking into discovering more. If you have any recommendations I would greatly appreciate if you would send them this way. While it’s far from a full fledged video game, for such a simple little title Limbo deserves a solid 4 out of 5.

Title : Limbo
Format : XBLA
Developer : PlayDead
Publisher : PlayDead
Release Date : 07/21/10

[starreviewmulti id=1 tpl=20]