Review: Limbo

It’s hard to describe just what it is that makes LIMBO so amazing. On the surface, it’s a platformer and puzzle game that has players traversing various obstacles in order to make their way forward and ultimately towards the end. Beneath the surface, it’s so much more.

In LIMBO, you play as a young boy searching for his sister. That’s just about all we know is definite about the story. You start the game in its always black-and-white canvas with no knowledge of where you are, why you’re there, or where you’re going. Not even an introduction of the controls (which really isn’t needed – A is jump, B is to interact with an object). All you know is that you’re chasing a girl (we’re assuming she’s your sister), whom you only see maybe two or three times throughout the game’s four-to-five hour journey.

Throughout this journey, players are presented with all sorts of puzzles to solve. They start off simple, moving boxes to climb onto and reach higher locations, then get more complex, operating switches and playing with gravity. There are even times where the world will literally begin rotating. Every puzzle in LIMBO has you thinking in a different way, so that the game never gets tiring. They’re much too clever. Some require good timing, others require good knowledge. Most require trial and error.

One of LIMBO‘s most intriguing factors is that it sees enemies that you wouldn’t normally find in a sidescroller. You can die in very gruesome ways that you probably wouldn’t think you’d see in this type of game. There are times when the young boy can land chest-centered in spikes sticking out of the wall and other times where his head and limbs can be ripped off his body. Want more? Two-ton falling blocks that can break every bone in your body, electric-filled floors that can shock you to death, unknown men shooting you with bows and arrows, gigantic spiders sticking their legs into your chest, spinning gears that can rip you apart, and pools of water that you can drown in. Most of the time, it’s your misjudgment of the puzzle that lands you in the preceding predicaments.

There are a good number of times when playing the game that you’ll notice a bug drop on your head. This bug controls you and only lets you walk in one direction, which is usually the direction you’re not trying to go. It won’t let you stop walking either. The only way to switch direction is to walk into hard light. The only way to get it off your head is to have another creature eat it. I liked this bug because it added a level of skill to the game. Try getting through a block that’s constantly falling and raising while you’re always moving and can’t stop to wait for the right time.

I really want to tell the world about LIMBO, but I honestly can’t find the words to describe it. Beautiful doesn’t do it much justice. Astonishing? Maybe. You’re going to play the game searching for answers and end up finding nothing but a list of countless possibilities. Even after completing it, I still wonder. I welcome you, if you will, to come roam in LIMBO.

Bravo, PlayDead. Bravo.


LIMBO was reviewed on an Xbox 360. The game was played to completion. LIMBO launches for Xbox LIVE Arcade on July 21, 2010 for 1200 Microsoft Points.

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