'Drenched in atmosphere and fun but not for long'
Every year now the ‘Summer of Arcade’ hits Xbox LIVE with this year’s proceedings starting off with Limbo; a beautifully artistic puzzle game that is heralded as this year’s ‘Braid’. The game is gorgeous and the puzzles are challenging with a sense of dread and mystery permeating through the world, with its only drawback is that a £12/$15 price tag is a little steep for a 3 hour playthrough.
Limbo begins with a boy waking up in creepy, noir woodland not knowing where he is. With the only exposition of story is written on the XBL Marketplace description. Other than that there is no story whatsoever. You may be thinking that’s a negative but it actually works in favour of the style of the game, there is always an “Alice in Wonderland” effect. You’ll be trekking through the world asking ‘Where am I?’ and ‘What is that?’ and these questions will never be answered, it really cements the atmosphere and let’s your imagination fill in the answers. Another aspect of the grim atmosphere is that ‘The Boy’ you control, although has no personality seems to have some questionable morals (The game is definitely for the mature) such as using corpses as stepping stones and even mutilating a giant spider, it seems “The Boy” will do anything to survive this hellish world but it is quite shocking to see a young boy jump on a freshly dead corpse just to cross a river.
Limbo plays like any side-scroller does. “The Boy” can run, jump, grab and push things with only using the left thumbstick, the A button and the B button. What’s amazing is how the puzzles utilise this simplistic control scheme. Most puzzles have “The Boy” move an object into position, to then activate something that will get you from one side of the screen to the other, over or through any obstacles. Each new section of the game brings a new tool to use such as “Gravity switches” and more gruesomely the “Brain-worms”. The puzzles will take 2-3 tries to get through or you may complete most of them on your first go, all of them though feel completely satisfying when you complete them and each and every one of them is as creative as the last.
The most striking point of Limbo and what garnered most of its attention is the striking presentation. The whole world is draped in a noir style including “The Boy”, with the background a hue of grey and very little sound, such as one continuous bass note that plays when the Giant Spider is chasing you; it makes for a fantastic atmosphere. This is definitely a game you have to see in motion to get a true understanding of its amazing graphical quality and (little) use of sound.
This may seem like a short review but Limbo is a very simplistically designed game and to say anymore would spoil the experience. The only problems I could find with the game is that the game is over before you know it being only 3 hours long and 1200 Microsoft Points, is a very steep price but if you’re willing to take the risk you’ll enjoy your time with Limbo, just not for long and you’ll feel longing for more.