Limbo is a puzzle platformer with a gorgeous art style, eerie music and fantastic gameplay.
You play through the game as a little boy who wakes up in the woods with little explanation. The game is black and white and has a foreboding feel to it – the forest is clearly full of danger and out to get you, so it’s probably best to find a way out of there and fast. Limbo offers you little help other than conveying the feeling of danger. The forest is full of things trying to kill you, traps and obstacles. Some games are full of back story and lore, cut scenes and explainers to tell the story but here in Limbo, there’s none of that. You wake in the forest on your own and you have to navigate your way through platforming and puzzles to find your way out. Even without the traditional explanation, then the game is very good at letting you know what to do and where to go in more subtle ways.
In Limbo, you’re going to die, but as with other platforming games it’s used as a tool to teach you rather than punish you. You’ll come across a puzzle or a trap and it’s highly likely you’ll die on the first attempt, but it teaches you to come back and try a new tactic. The puzzles in the game are varied and as you make your way through to the second act the challenge ramps up. The world of Limbo is a disturbing one filled with bear traps, buzzsaws and other nasty things that will kill you in an instant. The first time you get caught in one of these is shocking. There are also other children throughout the forest who clearly isn’t too happy you’re there.
Limbo may seem simple at first with the minimal story, however, it’s a great experience that should be savoured like a fine wine. The bleak black and white world full of menacing silhouettes create a tense atmosphere which pair with the puzzles perfectly. When do you finally meet other people in the forest they are there to chase you away with spears and darts. You end up feeling sad for the main character in the game – lonely and in trouble. As well as the environment the game is full of other nasties that are hell bend on killing you. Huge spiders unfurl their legs will creep you out (if you’re not too keen on our arachnid chums) and brain worms drop from above find a way into your head and make you walk the other way.
The graphics in Limo are simple but very effective. The characters and environments are in black and white and the textures in the mysterious fog-covered forest further enforce the sense of danger to the player. The scale of the backgrounds makes the main protagonist look tiny and vulnerable at times providing the player hints at the danger ahead. The sound and music in the game also compliment the eerie and strange environment adding to the tense moments in the game.
Limbo is an incredible game – subtle, challenging and beautiful. At the time of writing it’s also free on Epic Games Store. Limbo isn’t a long game but ultimately it’s a very satisfying one. In the world of live service games where games start and then go on and on, it’s refreshing to have a self-contained story. It’s touching, frightening and satisfying all at the same time.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, PC, Mac
Release Date: July 21st 2010