I haven’t written about many downloadable titles, despite having purchased dozens. I’m sure exactly why that is, but Limbo is just too great of an experience for me to let slip by without a mention. With a complete lack of colour in its bleak visual style, no music to be heard, and no weapons to wield. It’s quite possibly the simplest game from top to bottom, when you step back and really look at it. But that’s not to say there isn’t much of a game here. For Limbo is a game I will remember for years to come, I have no doubt.
At its core, Limbo is a 2D puzzle-based platforming game. It’s the story of a boy who enters Limbo in search of his sister, but without the story. I’m not sure where I picked that bit of info up, but it’s not from the game. It starts in an eerie forest, with the boy laying face up in the grass. You press a button to wake him, he slowly raises to his feet, and you’re off. What you’re doing, where you’re going, and why you’re there in the first place is left untold. There are no words to be read or heard from beginning to end. It’s simply a dark adventure, through a world that is adamant on ending your life.
The atmosphere portrayed by the visuals and sheer lack of music, sets a tone that will surely leave you feeling uneasy. The only sounds you’ll hear are your impending doom – a bear trap snapping you into pieces, or a boulder hurling down a slope towards you, or a giant circular saw blade screaming as it inches in your direction. When there is sound, you almost wish for silence.
Challenging, to Say the Least
While simple is the theme that drives nearly every aspect of Limbo, it’s a tough little game. Many obstacles are impossible to avoid during your first play through, and some of the puzzles later in the game will make your head hurt. Not to the extent of last summer’s sleeper hit, Braid. But pretty close! The nature of the puzzles changes from chapter to chapter, and get progressively more difficult. It starts out with basic platforming, then water, electricity, magnetism, and gravity are eased in.
Of the 12 Achievements that comprise the 200 points, 10 of them are for finding hidden glowing eggs. The first couple are pretty easy to locate, but some are way out of the way, and very well placed. Thankfully, they’re only worth 5 or 10 points each, and there’s a big 100 point Achievement in store when you complete the game. The remaining 10 points are an Achievement called “No Point in Dying”, which is awarded for completing the game in one sitting, dying no more than 5 times. I’m not even going to attempt this.
Do Yourself a Favour
Simply put, Limbo is a simplistic masterpiece that will give you something to talk about, and think about long after the credits have rolled. Every aspect of the game is carefully crafted to perfection and bundled up into a nice little package unlike anything else you’ve experienced. It’s under $20, and can be completed in about 3-4 hours, but will be included among this year’s heavy hitters in many “top games of 2010” lists, I assure you. Limbo, is a fantastic gaming experience!