Limbo: An Interpretation with SPOILERS

#1 Posted by Fracture (149 posts) -

There's been several complaints on the forum over the ending to this game and I want to throw my hat into the arena on what exactly is going on. 
 
The game starts with your character "waking up" and he sets off and you don't really know why (unless you read the description). Now you might have missed it but even without the description, halfway through the game you get to a scene where you see your sister just like you do at the end. At that point you get brain slug controlled and when you get back to that point the scene is different and the game continues on. So from that scene you realize he's looking for a little girl for some reason, you don't need the description unless your the type that misses that sort of stuff. 
 
At the end of the game you "wake up" again and go and see your sister then the game ends. Now the place the girl was standing over has 2 corpses lying there. 
 
So my concept of the game (given the title) is that your dead, Your dead the whole game and wandering around limbo because you think your still alive.  More than likely you and this girl (likely your sister) died in the woods and you don't realize it. When you finally meet up with her at the end everything ends because you realize your dead. 
 
What are all the monsters chasing you and people attacking you and everything else? It's not really important.  
 
I personally loved the game but in the end I wish there was more, but that's another topic.
#2 Posted by SpartyOn (500 posts) -
@Fracture: Yeah I assumed pretty much the same thing.  The title totally makes it seem like you and your sister are dead.   On a side note, that part you mention where you saw your sister for the first time and before you could get to her those brain slug things turn you around...it actually made me feel pretty bad for the poor kid haha
#3 Edited by Kyreo (4600 posts) -
@Fracture said:

" There's been several complaints on the forum over the ending to this game and I want to throw my hat into the arena on what exactly is going on.  The game starts with your character "waking up" and he sets off and you don't really know why (unless you read the description). Now you might have missed it but even without the description, halfway through the game you get to a scene where you see your sister just like you do at the end. At that point you get brain slug controlled and when you get back to that point the scene is different and the game continues on. So from that scene you realize he's looking for a little girl for some reason, you don't need the description unless your the type that misses that sort of stuff.  At the end of the game you "wake up" again and go and see your sister then the game ends. Now the place the girl was standing over has 2 corpses lying there.  So my concept of the game (given the title) is that your dead, Your dead the whole game and wandering around limbo because you think your still alive.  More than likely you and this girl (likely your sister) died in the woods and you don't realize it. When you finally meet up with her at the end everything ends because you realize your dead.  What are all the monsters chasing you and people attacking you and everything else? It's not really important.   I personally loved the game but in the end I wish there was more, but that's another topic. "

I like your approach to this.  I came at it thinking the kid was asleep and the whole thing was a dream or something.  The fact that he was fighting through a dream makes a pinch bit more of sense than fighting through the afterlife back to where his sister was. 
 
It seemed very dreamy... and fragile.  Like... every scenario he was in wasn't based on reality (I mean, he went from a forest to underwater to an industrial park in less than an hour) and more on... well I don't know what is was based on.  A dream perhaps.
#4 Posted by sagesebas (2003 posts) -
@Fracture: Maybe the people there are also stuck in limbo
#5 Posted by FizzleNizzleBear (335 posts) -

My theory about this game is that its simply a boy who goes to get his sister. However he then began to dream before he goes after her. In this nightmare he faces a common fear of the horrors we think are in a forest only to wake up and realize it wasn't that bad. I think the two corpses were there to show you the contrast of our fears and reality. The reason I believe this is because the things you see are fears people have of the forest such as insects, traps, wild native, and abandoned buildings.

#6 Posted by Noodlearms (586 posts) -
@Fracture said:
" There's been several complaints on the forum over the ending to this game and I want to throw my hat into the arena on what exactly is going on.  The game starts with your character "waking up" and he sets off and you don't really know why (unless you read the description). Now you might have missed it but even without the description, halfway through the game you get to a scene where you see your sister just like you do at the end. At that point you get brain slug controlled and when you get back to that point the scene is different and the game continues on. So from that scene you realize he's looking for a little girl for some reason, you don't need the description unless your the type that misses that sort of stuff.  At the end of the game you "wake up" again and go and see your sister then the game ends. Now the place the girl was standing over has 2 corpses lying there.  So my concept of the game (given the title) is that your dead, Your dead the whole game and wandering around limbo because you think your still alive.  More than likely you and this girl (likely your sister) died in the woods and you don't realize it. When you finally meet up with her at the end everything ends because you realize your dead.  What are all the monsters chasing you and people attacking you and everything else? It's not really important.   I personally loved the game but in the end I wish there was more, but that's another topic. "
2 corpses? I just finished the game and didn't see any corpses by the little girl. Just to be sure I watched the ending on YouTube. You sure that you weren't just seeing things? 
#7 Posted by FizzleNizzleBear (335 posts) -
@Noodlearms: after the credits you see a the treehouse area destroyed and flys are buzzing over two areas, it can be assumed those are corpses
#8 Posted by Noodlearms (586 posts) -
@FizzleNizzleBear said:
" @Noodlearms: after the credits you see a the treehouse area destroyed and flys are buzzing over two areas, it can be assumed those are corpses "
Oh, I see it now. I was talking about before the credits. So I guess you and your sister died at the same time...I agree with this interpretation. Weird ass game. 
#9 Posted by Wiseblood (641 posts) -

Also about how the game ends with the boy flying through the glass.  Maybe the glass is a windshield?

#10 Posted by VanRedd (40 posts) -

My interpirtation is similar. I think they boy and girll were playing the in the tree house above them that  you see. The boy and girl fell out and died. You must reunite with her to find your way back to heaven.
 
Someone on the GameFAQs boards I was talkiing with said he thought it may be the same thing but a car crash instead. I had to really consider that when you consider all the elements in the game. A fly on the windshield, a spider on the dash, a car wreck causing tearing and scraping metal (buzz saws), crashing though the final pane of "glass" at the end.

#11 Posted by MjHealy (1842 posts) -

The glass at the end of the game may symbolise something. Perphas it is showing the Boy breaking out of his dream, leaving Limbo. He has been in this dreamworld looking for his sister and once he breaks out of it, he finds her just sitting there with no mind tricks.
 
There is one thing I can tell you for certain and that is that Limbo is effin' weird.

#12 Edited by CptBedlam (4449 posts) -

I go with the TE's interpretation. That's basically my interpretation of it as well.
 
The boy and his sister are dead. When they died they were seperated and now he is looking for her in Limbo which originally was a term for a certain state of hell in the Catholic Church. There even is an "official" children version called "Limbo of the Infants".

#13 Posted by Fracture (149 posts) -

If anyonee here has seen a movie called Jacobs ladder there's simmilar themes there. Don't want to spoil that movie for anyone who hasn't seen it but if you have you'll see the simmilarities. 
 
Also the original concept of Limbo is that it's not heaven and it's not hell. It's sort of a "afterlife waystation" that you might end up if you weren't good enough for one or bad enough for the other. Maybe the boy's there just long enough to find the girl. When he's about to lose it the most is when the whole thing ends. The game starts off in a real enough place (spooky forest) and by the end reality has about broken down (gravity puzzles, etc). The last puzzle you do isn't so much hard but logically impossible and the glass could represent his sanity shattering, realizing that where he's been isn't possible. 
 
Anyhow, games wierd but I quite enjoyed it and look forward to whatever else these guys do.

#14 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

I just found the ending to be a very obvious attempt at trying to be profound and artsy that ultimately fell flat on it's face because the rest of the game does not back up the last few seconds at all.

#15 Posted by HebrewSanta (49 posts) -

I really like the car crash idea from VanRedd.  To add more to that, after the car crash he wakes up in his last known memory.  A forest, with tree houses.  Maybe his sister will be there?  Then you see tire swings juxtaposed with people hung by the neck.  Memories are being strangled by nightmares.   
 
Even simpler.  I think this is a story of letting go.  Or, more correctly, not letting go.  You were there, did you see all that he would do just to reunite with his sibling?  Did you see the gruesome deaths?  The giant spiders?  He was doing anything he could do just to see her again, while at the same time, there was nothing he could do. 
 
The crash idea also explains the screen rotating and the gravity play.  Perhaps even the water rising and the rain, albeit with a childish twist to make it more personal.

#17 Posted by The_Philosopher (570 posts) -
@Fracture:
Great post man. I didn't notice the two corpses at the end but that makes total sense. I liked how when you get thrown through that glass type thing at the end you kind of go back to the beginning of the game again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
#18 Posted by HebrewSanta (49 posts) -

I love the Twilight Zone.

#19 Posted by swamplord666 (1758 posts) -

Wow thanks guys! finished it and thought "...huh. That's just weird". I didn't see where this was all going, who the other kids were, whether the place was a physical place or dreamscape, who the girl was, why you made the world move with switches, why there were antigravity switches, etc. But that all makes more sense now and I'm glad I didn't have to settle with "It was all a dream... FUUUUUUUUUU" 

#20 Posted by durden77 (303 posts) -

Also, has anyone noticed how many tires are in this game? It adds more substance to the car accident idea.    

#21 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10910 posts) -

Wikipedia has almost the same interpretation of it, so that means that this is correct.

Moderator
#22 Edited by Bionicicide (1213 posts) -
@ToadRunner said:

"  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunt_%28The_Twilight_Zone%29
 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitch-Hiker_%28The_Twilight_Zone%29 "


 
The car crash sounds like it's the best interpretation for the slow-mo glass break and anti-gravity puzzles... but without any justification for the huge spider, people, slugs, HOTEL sign, and why it all ends under a treehouse the car crash theory still falls flat for me and sadly I'm stuck with "It was just a dream dawg." as the explanation... at least it's thought provoking unlike 2D Mario games.
#23 Posted by Lingxor (422 posts) -

"What are all the monsters chasing you and people attacking you and everything else? It's not really important."       
  
I disagree. There's a thin line between open ended and just plain lazy writing. The spider and natives weren't addressed at all and it left me feeling pretty frustrated.

#24 Posted by TwoLines (2802 posts) -
@Lingxor said:
" "What are all the monsters chasing you and people attacking you and everything else? It's not really important."         I disagree. There's a thin line between open ended and just plain lazy writing. The spider and natives weren't addressed at all and it left me feeling pretty frustrated. "
I'd like to think that LIMBO kid was picked on by other kids frequently during his lifetime, or he was picking on others, and it manifests itself like that in LIMBO.
The spiders are a fear of spiders, the brain slugs.. maybe he feels he's being controlled by his parents? School?  Who knows.
I think it all has meaning. Even if it was a dream (which it wasn't) dreams have meaning too.
#25 Posted by SmallCaveGames (37 posts) -

I like it too how if you go left at the beginning (where you end up at the end) you get an achievment just called "Wrong Way."    

But I honestly think some people take the interpretation thing a bit too far.   There's not much of a story here, and it's just not that important to enjoying the game.    It's dripping mood and style which I think tends to make people think it's deeper than it is.   The game is called Limbo, and that's basically what it is - stylized.

#26 Edited by Princess_Isabela (163 posts) -

From the very beginning it was obvious what was going on, title and general mood gave it away immediately. 
I enjoyed this game very much even though it lasted 2,5 hours...there are still extra achievements so I might give it another shot.

#27 Edited by astonish (211 posts) -

Just finished my first play-through ten minutes ago. Amazing game. It had great mood, art, "music", and gameplay. I don't think this is a David Lynch film, where I'd argue every single symbol is there for a reason, but there are a few things that jumped out at me that haven't been mentioned that much. I haven't had a chance to bring it all together in my head into a cohesive interpretation but here are things I picked up (spoilers obviously):
 
1) "Limbo", other than being a dance, usually refers to things or people in a state left forgotten. It isn't used as much any more, but it also is the purgatory that people go to who hadn't been baptized when they died, usually children.  
 
2) The "glass" at the end looked like a tree sitting in a ray of sunlight to me. I even tried to run to it (and died) the first couple times because it looked like it could be a "hidden" area or something until I realized that was the way I was supposed to end up going. Anyone else notice this. You can't really see it during the end sequence only if you run up to it (usually ending in your death).
 
3) Here is the biggy I don't see being talked about: the game follows the social and technological development of humankind. The backgrounds alone make this obvious. You start in a forest, nothing but nature, you begin by merely trying to traverse the natural environment, then you are faced with the predatory creatures (the spider). The environment and its creatures are frightening, so is the dark. But you overcome those obstacles to find other people/children. As Brad said it is like Lord of the Flies, like tribal warfare. After conquering the environment you conquer the other tribes/children. The others and what they might do to you is what becomes frightening. But then you overcome that, in a way return to nature, but this time to begin to command it (water, using the animal (domesticated?) to spin the wheel) and do basic mechanical stuff (ropes, pulley, etc). Mines, logging, etc are prominent in the background. Then comes the city, but an isolated, dirty/industrious city, (mental?) parasites cause you to navigate the cityscape in a uncontrolled and dangerous way. As the game continues you master more technology (electricity, magnetism, finally gravity) and the technology becomes more massive and advanced.  We also see the tools of war advance as well (machine guns).
 
In a way you could argue children go through the same mental development as all of human kind at a breakneck pace. We start mystified by everything, but afraid of the dark, creatures we aren't familiar with. Then we grow up and play social games with other children, sometimes bullying or banding together in groups. We learn more about how the world really works, then we face the city, technology, and how we integrate into all that.  At the start of the game the traps are all things outside of you: spiders, people... but eventually just end up being your inability to navigate the complex technology you've built for yourself.
 
Perhaps this development at either scale is what is in 'limbo' just as much as the kid, ourselves and our society and the gruesome progress that got us here is forgotten and lost to most people.  But thats a pretty 'meta'/arty interpretation.   
 
I definitely think the game is a dream/purgatory of some kind.
 
Still not sure how to handle the sister and the cyclical ending. Need to play it again and thing about it more.
 
I'm also curious about the parasites. They come at interesting times. One of them (the first) turns you away from returning to your sister. I wonder if where they show up is more than just a tension building gameplay mechanic, but are supposed to tie into everything else.  
 
Anyway, just a bunch of food for thought. Haven't had a game make me think about it this much in quite some time.

#28 Edited by Princess_Isabela (163 posts) -

Limbo refers to state in afterlife, - interpreting of happens to you after you die.
Limbo of Infants Place for children who have not been baptized before they departed and therefore are unable to enter the heavens/ 
People how have not been freed from ancestral sin (Limbo of Fathers - going back to Adam and Eve/Fall of Men era). 
Limbo can also be referred to as a place without any progression, out of which you cannot get out (edge of hell).
 
Game starts in forest, it progresses thematically, beginning with nature themes/simplicity, meeting primitive organisms,  antagonistic human forms trying to kill each other in order to survive/out of fear, through industrial/advanced technology sections, that goes over your head (literally!), becomes too much and leads to your demise.
After game ends, main menu shows two corpses laying in the grass, that would be our two characters who have met at the end of the story that could have been redeemed and left this god forsaken place in a spiritual form, leaving the bodies behind and moving on.
 
Life is fragile and can be very dangerous.
Constant evolution, going forward/ always pursuing something but ultimately ending with the same outcome, sometimes the way you wouldn't expect it to (at first you're hoping that this is a nightmare and you're sound & safe only to discover something opposite).
Either way grass gets greener. 
 
I also think that what you see during your journey, it's meant to show you development of your realization process revealing slowly your death (forest, hotel, street signs, tires, gravity, shattered glass), thus resulting in leaving the limbo.
 
Plenty of room for interpretation.

#29 Posted by HandsomeDead (11863 posts) -

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the final smash was something sanity related. Even though you do start off with a fuck off huge spider, it's more grounded in reality than flipping the world upside down and flying with magnets.

#30 Edited by pandasatan (1 posts) -

In my opinion, Limbo is a statement on the descension to madness through industrialism and technology. In the beginning of the game, the protagonist wakes up in a dark and scary world. He is threatened by his natural setting, the spider, the water, the children. He faces challenges which are disturbing, but simple and practical. But as the game progresses, he begins to separate himself from his world. The puzzles become mechanical, and his deaths predominately electronic. The conflict centers around his effect on his environment, rather then the environment's effect on him.  He deals with gears, and conveyor belts, and anti-gravity devices. And although the world becomes less scary, it also becomes less practical, and more complicated to the point where it is difficult to discern which way is up, and impossible to decide your own direction. And in the last puzzle, the main character breaks through the walls of his artificial world and finds himself back where he began in the forest, and it is in the simplicity that he finds his sister. 

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