Limbo throws you into a transcendental world of shades and tints of black and white, to provide an incredible virtuosity of eeriness. The ambiance of the whole performance instills an overwhelming need to escape the hellish ploys of a universe unknown. With little sound play it really leaves you in a state of “limbo”.
You start out as a young boy in a quaint forest with very little information as to why you are wandering through the environment. It was designed with simplistic controls, that can allow any hardcore gamer, and or casual counterpart to easily pick the title up and begin playing with very little thought. As you progress, you come across various puzzles that often lead to your untimely demise; oft leading to moments of amusement as the poor boy is dismembered by various instruments of death. The game contains scrupulous amounts of scripted events; which is acceptable for a puzzle game of this grandeur. Depth of these puzzles is sometimes frustratingly entertaining. There were times where you just slapped your head in a Homer Simpson-esque “doh” moment, and other times where you were beyond confused as to the purpose of the next puzzle. This vagueness contained in some of the puzzles lends to the few short-comings of the experience. Not being able to progress through some parts of the game more readily pulls you back from the feel, and generally disrupts the immersing aspects it has to offer.
At some point in the development of any visual project, there is going to be a conceptual stage of black and white imagery to mock up the flow. Limbo takes this concept, refines it, and wields it as the main visual accompaniment. Layered within are various levels of imagery that can be affected by your actions. It is by no means a flat experience. Light is the games big focus for moving throughout the world; It controls your confidence as you figure out whether the area you jump to next is a trap or the way out. Couple this with wide sweeping alterations to the environment, and you will be led to unexpected events just from the push of a button. This Rube Goldberg inspired — one action changes everything — leads to intense moments of fast paced jumping in order to avoid being crushed by unapologetic force.
Undoubtedly the most noticeable aspect of the game in todays vast world of surround sound rich entertainment with brooding soundtracks, is the absence of such common cliches. Orchestras and booming explosions have no place in this tranquil piece. Sound is largely implored to suggest to the player that danger is imminent. Pounding noises, fires, roaring machinery, sparks all add to the danger; not knowing what is around the next corner. The sound design is used in conjunction with the visual mechanics to make a very threatening environment, with a supreme amount of tension.
Limbo has little to offer past the first run through of the game. There are some hidden areas within the levels that give you various achievement unlocks. They have incorporated a couple of items that you can unlock for use with your avatar, however they aren’t particularly difficult to obtain. The leaderboards only show your current completion percentage which is a little disappointing. This game could have been a good candidate for some speed-run style timed leaderboards, for those certain individuals that like to play through games with precision and ferocity. However, it is important to note that the game has a very purposeful pace to it, whether through scripted events or complex puzzles that slow you down. Being the game will only run you around 3-4 hours to complete, at the 1200 MS Points price, I was hoping for some more replay value out of this purchase.
In this current generation of muted colors, symphonic orchestral pieces, and intense over the top action, Limbo breaks the beaten path in a refreshing way to reinvigorate what games have to be. It holds up well against similarly unique titles such as Braid and Flower. The puzzles are engaging, and require some time to work through. While I wasn’t blown away by the games overall presentation, it still provides plenty of visual acuity to make you want to reach the finish. The story is never really explained in depth, and the ending is a little underwhelming, but it will certainly be a just purchase for any puzzle enthusiast.