Everybody (should play) LIMBO
It can be difficult to talk about Limbo without breaking the spell of what makes this game so incredible. As you wake in this incredible world you get the feeling that you are slowly being drawn into a madman’s dream. The contrasting black and white visuals make you constantly question your surroundings. There is no music to speak of but the audio track is amplified in a way that continually pulls you deeper and deeper into the dark forest that the story takes place in. As you begin your journey the wonder and precariousness of your position begin to take hold. Though the game’s length is brief, for the time you do spend in this world you are completely enthralled.
From the outside this XBLA download is a simple side-scrolling platformer with puzzles to solve, ledges to climb, and platforms to jump on. The puzzles are some of the oldest in the genre with machines to activate, boxes to push, and switches to pull, but you see them through the stark and grim lens of amazing looks and unique design concepts. The only story to speak of is a vague description of a boy searching the woods for his sister. I have my own interpretations of the story but I believe that each player will come to different conclusions so I shouldn’t color them.
Throughout the game you are challenged with new and puzzling situations that will force you to think in a new way each time. Much like Braid layered on concepts and changed the rules, Limbo will continue to amaze you in its inventiveness. Each puzzle is based on laws of physics, initially in normal ways such as friction on sloped surfaces and increasingly bizarre situations like how gravity functions in a world where the old rules don’t apply. The game shines because each instance in the game stands on its own legs and shines. Each time you think you have figured out something, you haven’t, because around the next corner the game changes everything. This trick is made all the more impressive because each puzzle flows into the next and blurring the lines between the environment and the puzzles. The only thing that the game keeps constant is that you are always one step away from death. This is not a game for children though as the young protagonist is repeatedly killed in more startling and gruesome ways.Limbo offers some difficult hidden achievements throughout the game that will require more playthroughs, but the first time you play it will take you roughly 4-5 hours, but it is totally worth your 1200 Microsoft points. My girlfriend would begin to talk to me as I played and I would jump every time, not because I was scared but because I was completely engrossed in the world. Turn up the sound and I guarantee you will feel the same way.