Review – LIMBO

LIMBO tells the story of a young boy who is trying to find his sister in a dark, danger-fraught world. It is primarily a puzzle adventure above all else, and it is beautifully designed, gorgeously executed, and incredibly rewarding.

The first thing users will notice when beginning to play the game is the unique visual style. LIMBO is a game set in a greyscale world. The protagonist is a small, ragdoll-like boy who appears as nothing more than a black figure with white eyes set against a black and grey world. This visual style sounds bland on paper, but in execution it is amazing to take in. It is, honestly, one of the most beautifully designed games I’ve ever come across.

The world consists of one section. Technically there are chapters, and there are frequent checkpoints – think every minute or two – but if one wanted to (and had the talent to do so) one could play through the entire game without encountering a single load screen. It is a gorgeous, seamless world in which the boy begins in dark, foreboding woods filled with crashing logs, watery obstacles to cross, and bear traps to avoid. It slowly transitions to a dark, industrial world where machines pose a constant threat to the character.

LIMBO’s gameplay is so simple that it’s absolutely beautiful. The controls consist of the left joystick (to move the player left or right), the A button to jump, and the B button to interact with crates and levers and the like. Such simple controls could be frustrating if the levels weren’t so perfectly designed. But as it is, I didn’t run into a single instance in which I was unable to accomplish a jump or reach a certain objective. There didn’t seem to be any errors in the gameplay at all – the result of a long development time for an Xbox LIVE Arcade game in which, clearly, the development team was set on delivering an incredible product.

LIMBO’s best feature, though, are its puzzles. They are brilliant. The main character has to reach inaccessible areas and that often requires ingenuity and extensive testing. I frequently found myself taking several minutes to solve a particular puzzle, and felt so rewarded after getting past it that I was determined to push on and find out what the next challenge was.

Finally, LIMBO’s story is beautifully compiled despite being simplistic and without narrative. There is something compelling in the world, in the boy’s eyes, in his search for his sister, pushing forward against terrible obstacles. It is a refreshing, beautiful story.

LIMBO could have been a game that tried too hard to be a piece of art, but in being a well-executed game with a beautiful design, it has become a small piece of gaming ingenuity. It only lasts 3 or 4 hours, but LIMBO is well worth the price on Xbox LIVE Arcade. It is a game that I will come back to again and again, like Super Mario Brothers. Satisfying, challenging, and beautiful.

9.5