Reviews – Limbo Review

Platform: PS3
Also available on: Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Playdead
Publisher: Playdead
Release date: July 19, 2011

Limbo debuted during the summer of 2010 as an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive title, and was one of the marquee titles as in the “Summer of Live Arcade” promotion.  Indie developer Playdead has finally been able to publish this game onto the Playstation Network, and as of this writing, will be available on Steam next week.

The first quality that everyone notices about Limbo is the presentation.  Limbo has a unique monochromatic graphical style.  All objects and the environments are completely pitch black, with some shades of gray for the background and white for the lighting.  The entire game has a grainy filter effect across the screen as well as a blur effect that goes around the edge of the screen.  The animations are nothing out of the ordinary.  The main character is a young boy, who is illustrated as a completely black silhouette except for two white dots for his eyes.  The protagonist has no facial expressions, no voice, and shows no emotion at all.  There is no music and very few sounds, only a few environmental sound effects and rumbles.  With this presentational style, along with the gruesome death animations when the boy fails, Limbo has a very uniquely morbid and macabre tone that isn’t found in often in games.  There were many moments that I would yell “OH!” out loud after seeing the boy get impaled or snapped in half after failing a platform puzzle.

The gameplay initially reminded me of Out of This World, which is a platform game that also is known for its graphical presentation and shocking death animations.  Another similarity is the trial-and-error based platform puzzles.  In most situations in Limbo, the traps and hazards are unforeseeable to the player and results to unavoidable death.  So the player will walk into most of these death traps and will have to memorize what’s the hazard to the puzzle they are trying to solve.  Most of the puzzles are physics based, with only one solution to overcoming them.  I also felt that the difficulty of the game only become challenging in the last fifth of the game.  With that said, it took me around 3 hours to finish Limbo.  The only replay value that’s available for me at this point is to collect the Easter eggs that I haven’t found on my own already.

There is no story narrated within the game of Limbo.  The boy wakes up in a forest, and it’s up to the player to interpret what’s going on.  There are sources online that state the boy is worried about the fate of his sister, but that’s not conveyed in the game itself.  The ending was also very underwhelming to me.

As far as downloadable titles go, there are quite a few puzzle platform games already available such as Braid, The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom, and even physics based games such as Trine and the upcoming title Rochard.  The gameplay of Limbo is not bad, but it’s nothing unique and doesn’t excel at it.  What Limbo does provide is a unique theme and graphical style.  The presentation of the game does deliver a shock value at several points within the game, but that’s not enough to warrant the $15 price tag of this game, especially with how short this game is.  My recommendation is to either pick this up on Steam when it drops down to a few dollars, or just avoid it all together.

3 out of 5 stars

-“The Don” Stafa