I did a short writeup (and kind of review, though not intentionally) for the site gaming.linnnk as to why I've just now gotten around to finishing up Limbo when I bought it day one that it came out. I thought that it might be fun to share it here and see what other people had to say about my perspective. You can read the full article here: http://gaming.linnnk.com/xbox-360/limbo-a-long-journey-finally-at-an-end/ or just the text I posted below for convenience. Enjoy!
Limbo came out on Xbox Live during the 2010 Summer of Arcade game promotion and quickly became a cult classic. The game is still winning indie game awards and being called a “must play” game. However, I picked this game on day one of it’s release and just completed it last night. Why is that? It sure isn’t because it’s a game that requires almost a year to complete, but I actually ended up with mixed feelings throughout Limbo, right up to completion.
Limbo is designed to encourage you to explore. It doesn’t give you any real direction, but it will definitely let you know when you’ve gone the wrong way. This is probably one of the biggest things people point out about Limbo, the many deaths that occur. There are things everywhere in this game that will kill you ranging from bottomless pits to spinning saws to electric floors to giant spiders. You can tell they really thought these out too because each one has it’s own animation for voiding you of your life.
That’s cool and all, but not what draws me to the game. The art on the other hand, is absolutely incredible. I have never seen so much personality put into a monochromatic piece of work. I truly feel the art in this game could stand alone; every screen shot has some sort of story to it without any context and the game really runs with this. Since there isn’t much of an actual narrative, the game let’s the setting speak for itself a lot.
I specifically chose the ‘hotel’ image above because I think it’s one of the coolest things in the game. There are a few environments that really stuck out to me (one other would be when the entire world beings rotating), but the hotel sign I’ll never forget. If you’ve played the game you may also be thinking to yourself right now that you’ll never forget the now infamous spider. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but that thing is incredibly creepy!
Now, on to the gameplay. This is the reason this game took me so long to complete. It’s really quite simple on paper; side scrolling platformer, that’s it. You don’t do anything in Limbo that you haven’t done somewhere else. You will jump gaps, climb ladders, move boxes, avoid pits, avoid saw blades, it’s all by the books. However, so much of the game requires this amount of precision that just did not sit well with me.
I found myself often trying a jump over and over to the point that I was wondering if I was actually doing it right or needed to find a box to get more height and jump off of (in different situations, both were a proper solution). I’m fine with the solutions to the puzzles, but as a gamer who is being encouraged to explore, I want the game to be a little more obvious with when what solution is correct. If the jump required a box and was just 10 pixels further, I would have fallen short enough that I knew to look for something else. Instead, I tried over and over getting more frustrated each time that I was so close, but just not making this jump.
This frustration applied to more than just jumps for me. Sometimes it was ropes just out of reach, other times it was rising water that I thought I needed to outrun, but actually boxes to float on. I’ll take the heat if you want to just say I’m no good at this game, but I doubt I’m the only person who had these sort of experiences.
Let’s be honest though, Limbo is an indie gem that you cannot deny. It reminds me so much of Braid in the way that it is unmistakably it’s own game. It may use familiar mechanics, but you don’t get a feel from either Limbo nor Braid that you get from any other game. Limbo brings an experience to the table that is reminiscent of a silent film; it’s incredibly beautiful and tells you enough to put you in their world, but really leaves your imagination to fill in the blanks. I could go on some more about this game, but I also don’t want to spoil anything.
So, I’ll conclude with this: if you haven’t checked out Limbo, go get the demo and see if it’s for you. If the demo doesn’t do it for you, then the rest of the game isn’t going to change that. However, if you like what you play then you should absolutely support the developers and pick up Limbo. It’s no small feat to put out a game like this and it’ll be a rewarding experience for you as a gamer.