Limbo is a platformer puzzle game that banks a whole lot on its abundant and unsettling atmosphere. It was in development for several years by the independent Swedish developer Playdead, and it took home two awards at 2010’s IGF , the Independent Games Festival, leading to their current publishing deal with Microsoft. Limbo has a unique black and white art style that deals mostly in shades of grey rather than the stark contrast of something like Madworld. The backround’s lack of many heavily defined features gives the player the feeling of uncertainty. The environments can change at the drop of a hat sometimes flowing from dank factory into a dark forest and then out onto the rooftops of an abandoned town.
Limbo’s soundtrack is only known by the occasional subtle tone that sneaks out of the quiet and keeps the tension high. Frequent and near unavoidable deaths also help to keep even the most veteran of players on their toes. The game only makes use of the left analog stick and the A button, to jump and B button, to grab items and press switches. Most of the puzzles tend to revolve around your ability to manipulate objects and switches in order to get past the next obstacle. Standard fare for a platformer puzzle game, however, these puzzles are engineered so finely that solving them tends to make the player feel accomplished and intelligent.
As far as the narrative is concerned, Limbo manages to stay ambiguous and interesting for those that want to look. However it never forces you to read any text or even watch a cutscene. The only issue with this approach is that it does not lend itself to any sort of a climactic finale, and you may find yourself surprised when you realize you have solved the last puzzle. The ending is appropriately quizzical and leaves plenty of room for players to discuss and speculate. While I applaud any game that allows for more discussion afterward, I would still have liked the ending to have had you use all the skills it had taught you up to that point rather than just a few that you had been using recently.
Limbo is a truly unique experience that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. It is well polished and the puzzles sometimes require a break or two from the game. The length is short even for a downloadable title as the game only took me four hours to complete. There was a great deal of time and craftsmanship that went into this game, and these alone are enough to justify the price. Even with my praise I cannot recommend the fifteen dollar price tag to anyone on a budget. With future releases like Scott Pilgrim and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair right around the corner, Limbo is only for those with well fed wallets.
I deem this Down Low’d a 4 out of 5. The slight flaws definitely blemish it but the over all experience is not to be missed.
Edited by Oculin