Uncertain of his sister’s fate, a boy enters LIMBO. That is all the plot and narrative you get for the whole of your Limbo experience. But it is really all you need to know before embarking on your black and white silhouetted adventure. The opening release for this years Winter of Arcade, Limbo, has some big shoes to fill after last years Winter of Arcade smash hits, Shadow Complex and Trials HD. Well, after playing Limbo I can safely say that the high standard set for the Winter of Arcade is safe, very safe.
Initial impressions, especially from still screenshots, may lead you to believe that Limbo is a low tech bland looking affair. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When great animation comes together with some excellent rag doll physics you have some really great looking moments, most of them being when your life comes to a gruesome end. The eerie sound effects complement this minimalist approach well with the environment sounds not having to fight with any soundtrack or music score. All this pulls together fantastically and allows you, the player, to concentrate on solving the, sometimes fiendish, puzzles and getting to your sister.
The controls to get you through the land of Limbo couldn’t be more simple. Left stick to move, A to jump, and B to interact with items in the environment. No weapons, time manipulation, or special skills to worry about here. Just you and your arms and legs, legs which don’t propel you very far at that. So moving objects to aid you in reaching that next ledge or crossing that spike pit is a necessity. Some of the puzzles are extremely daunting at first look, I found myself walking away on more than one occasion. But when you do solve that puzzle that has been giving you grief, you will get one of those ‘Aww! Bloody hell! Why didn’t I see that!’ moments due to none of the puzzles being too obscure, a bit weird, but not too obscure.
The only bad points I could mention would be the overall time to complete the game is fairly short and if you manage to solve the puzzles quickly you could have Limbo all finished in a couple of hours. Although there are these strange white things scattered throughout Limbo which need to be collected for the achievements. They don’t affect the game in any way but do give you a reason to revisit each chapter after completion for a bit of exploration and backtracking. The only other problem I have is at a couple of points through the game you find yourself enveloped in darkness and it becomes a bit difficult to see any environmental objects you may need to interact with. Neither of these problems come close to destroying the fun and immersion of playing Limbo.
1200 Microsoft Points. It’s a lot, and you expect to get plenty of bang for your cyber-buck these days. This is where Limbo is a double edged sword. Length wise and the low chance of multiple replays make this pretty pricey but, and this is a huge but, the absolute brilliance that has gone into the level design, puzzles, ambiance, and overall package make Limbo, to me, a must buy. Gems like this are just too few and far between and if buying this at full price means more coins in the developers pockets then hell, buy it twice! You even get a couple of Avatar Awards for your effort.
Released 21/7/2010 for 1200 MS Points.