Van Redd Reviews: Limbo

Darkness and Light are two of the simplest forms of artistic expression, and yet for all time they have been the most powerful. The subtext is easy to understand…quite primal in fact. Limbo plays to this strength and is one of the most haunting games I have ever played.

Haunting is quite apt as your character, a young boy, looks like a lost spirit. His form is black save for his dots of light eyes. The world he traverses through is a mix of shadow and light, the forms of trees and buildings just faintly apparent. From the very beginning you feel as if things are not right. You are made to feel weak and helpless; one hit will send you to your doom. Death lurks at every corner in this world and can come at you unexpectedly. From a huge spider and brain controlling slugs to environmental hazards like electric lines and buzz-saws. Each death is a very VERY gristly end for your little companion.

Limbo is actually a rather simple platformer. The controls are as simple as it gets; you use one button to run, one to jump and one to activate/push/pull. While this seems easy the trick to this game is in how devious the game becomes in timing what to do with when to do it. Limbo requires you to be creative and think outside of the “Mario Box”. You will not be jumping on enemies heads, instead you must lure them into traps, avoid them, or take advantage of a weakened foe.

Later in the game you will face devious gravity puzzles, be required to backtrack, and your brain will be stretched to figure out just how to get to your goal. Your goal, though, is not made very clear. You get a small indication that you are after a girl, your sister according to promotional materials. You are never told how you came to be in the forest; actually your never told anything. There are no cutscenes to really speak of, no dialogue, and no text to read. A highly subjective ending awaits you that I will in no way spoil, all I can say is that you will have to make your own mind up about this story of this game even more so than in Braid.

I was able to power though this game in a marathon six hour session, so be aware that this is not a game that is going to take up a huge amount of time.  I do not regret it and I do need to go back though and pick up some of the hidden orbs you can find. While I do enjoy the art style and minimalist approach, it does feel this was made as a “games are art” game merely for the sake of it.

BOTTOM LINE: While Limbo is a exciting, beautiful, and haunting experience the price tag is rather high. I totally recommend playing it but be aware that your only going to get about seven total hours of this game unless your into replaying it again and again.