Survival of the fittest
From the moment I first saw Limbo, I was intrigued. It draws you in with a stunning aesthetic that immediately has you wanting to see more. What I didn't originally realize is how this first impression is pretty emblematic of the game as a whole. Limbo is a game that constantly strives to keep you interested, going to great lengths to make sure every single moment is as polished as possible. It's an exciting ride for sure, and while it may not last quite as long as you might hope, every minute is absolutely worth it.
The most striking thing about Limbo is that aforementioned aesthetic. Its visual and audio designs are sharp, with its ambient, colorless world emitting an almost primal vibe. This vibe extends from the environment and enemy designs all the way down to the game's gruesome death animations. Whether you're getting impaled by a giant spider, being shot by a deadly blow gun, or getting your head chopped off after stepping in a bear trap, this brutal world imparts a strong sense of urgency around every corner- death can come suddenly and unexpectedly. It's a game about survival in the most basic sense, as the world of Limbo is wild and unpredictable to the point where living is your only concern. By stripping away any other potential conflicts as a basis for motivation, Limbo attains a certain level of purity that's incredibly refreshing.
The act of playing Limbo is just as simple and just as focused as its aesthetic style. You move, you jump, and you drag objects around- that's it. While the basic controls may seem almost too simple for a modern platformer, the creative level designs and snappy pacing more than pick up the slack. You quickly move from one exciting obstacle to the next, each one providing a unique new challenge to overcome. There's nary a repeated scenario to be found, and some of the puzzles even switch the rules on you before you're done. You're constantly being forced to adapt to the world around you, and even though some of the later puzzles can get a little trippy, the game does a great job at providing just enough environmental clues to help you along. As a result, Limbo can be a fairly challenging game at times, but it never becomes overbearing or inaccessible. Every single puzzle is expertly designed to get you thinking outside the box just enough to make the solution highly rewarding without being frustrating. It's a difficult balancing act to pull off, and Limbo does it as well as any game can hope to do.
Limbo's only real drawback is that it's not very content heavy. This is clearly a game that goes for quality over quantity, as every single piece of this little game is masterfully crafted to produce a seamless experience that never falters from start to finish. The clever pacing, expertly integrated puzzles, and the suffocating atmosphere all combine to create a virtually flawless experience that could hardly be improved otherwise. It might be tempting to bemoan its short length, but Limbo packs more quality thrills into four hours of play than most games can fit into twenty, making it a game that's easy to recommend to pretty much everyone.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.