Limbo doesn’t need much. It doesn’t need colour, for example. The entire game exists in shades of black, grey and white - characters, objects, obstacles and locations all standing out or obscured by the
It doesn’t need much in the way of characters, either. You’re a small boy, looking for his sister in an eerie and deadly world. You won’t meet a single other soul as you journey through this monochromatic world - and any soul you encounter has your death on its mind.
It hasn’t a lot in the control spectrum - you have two buttons, a directional pad and your wits to get you through the perilous world in front of you. One button is your action, the other your jump. Typically controls are only highlighted when they fail to work as planned - instead here I draw attention to the fact that they work exactly as you expect.
It’s an important point of interest, because it allows you to rely on the world to react exactly as you expect - a very important feature in a puzzle game. It means that the little visual and aural clues left for you in the game world are all you need to get by - well, those and a little lateral thinking.
What the game doesn’t skimp on is the variation in the puzzles - though primarily physics based brain teasers, the game features its fair share of mind-bending timed based and even AI exploiting challenges as well.
More than a few stumped me to the point of wanting some sort of guide - thankfully I played the game before release (and before guides) - leading me to the only advice I think anyone should follow with the game... don’t use an FAQ. It is far more rewarding if you finish the game without help - and you can do it.
The game has some horror elements - enough that I probably wouldn’t recommend the game for young kids (or anyone with Arachnophobia) - and some brutal death sequences for your main character.
The bleak and dark themes in the game tell a pretty interesting tale, but unfortunately the story doesn’t go much further than what the player is supposed to glean from the tale itself. The only text in the game is on the title and pause menu - I’d say most people wouldn’t work out the basics (your character is trying to find his sister in Limbo) without being told out of the game (as I was).
There’s no motivation for the main character beyond the Player’s own need to beat every puzzle, because the sister doesn’t exist as a character until you actually find her. There’s no reward beyond the actual beating of the puzzles for the same reason.
It just seems like an odd waste of an unbelievably interesting world. None of my questions are ever answered - because no questions are answered. What is this Limbo world? How did my sister find herself trapped here? Even the likes of Alex Kidd and Super Mario Bros. answered
these questions to some extent.
The Indie games scene currently strives to leave as much as possible to the player’s imagination - and in Limbo this goal is achieved expertly. There is one other reason the story might be so simplistic - Danish developers PlayDead Studios have expertly dodged around language barriers in Limbo, demonstrating that the fundamentals of gaming are a universal language.
At its core, those fundamentals are great - and so Limbo is great. Broken down to the basics as it is, Limbo demonstrates what there is to love about games and gaming. For 1200MS Points some might find the price of entry a little steep, but it’s definitely the sort of game you will be happy to have experienced.
For what it is, this is one of the greatest games I've ever played.
The use of shadows and lighting is phenomenal and the minimalistic simplicity of the game is amazing.
The soundtrack could use a little more tweaking especially in "danger zones" but does fit with the nature of the game in whole.
1200 MS points is not really a lot when the gameplay is so rewarding. Try the demo and you will be hooked,
Game developers could learn a lot from this and it seems that this is a natural progression from the arcade games of the late 70's and early 80's. A very brave attempt in the fast paced, action packed & graphic intense games world of today.