Limbo is a single-player, puzzle-platformer video game developed by independent Danish game developer, Playdead. Available across multiple platforms from the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, as well as, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, through to iOS and even Microsoft Windows, the game follows a young boy’s journey through the treacherous terrain and dangerous traps of what we can only expect to be limbo, the unnatural world existing in between life and death, as he searches for his missing sister.
The game is very much set in an eerie and rather terrifying environment, created using dark, black and white undertones, little to no sound other than background noise and stark lighting. This portrays the world in which Limbo is set as being synonymous with the horror genre. As an indie video game, Limbo can be highly regarded in terms of art style and form. No other video game of this kind, that I have experienced, comes close in this regard.
Having been away from the gaming scene for a decade, Limbo was the perfect game to play as a way back into video games. It was interesting, to say the least, playing a character who doesn’t say or do much other than move forwards, backwards, jump and climb onto ledges or up and down ropes and ladders, minimalistic movements common to two-dimensional platformer games. This may be disconcerting for some, but being new to the PlayStation 4 controllers, this simplicity was exactly what I needed to familiarise myself with the next-gen console.
Playdead certainly was crafty in developing this game in what they’ve noted as ‘trial and death’. I, for one, am now well versed in this concept. After all, as a player guiding the boy, I had to try, fail and die several times while attempting to solve each puzzle before I was able to make any progress. At times this can be incredibly frustrating and as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy solving tough problems, I found myself wanting to give up numerous times. However, I was curious as to how the entire storyline would play out so I kept at it.
The one thing I liked about Limbo is that despite attempting to be creepy, with dark undertones, there were no jump scares or anything disturbing. At most there’ll be a giant spider here and there or some death traps. I do have to warn you though, some of the death traps result in a gruesome death. On the plus side, dying prematurely in the game doesn’t result in having to start very far off, unlike some games with checkpoints so far away from where you currently are that it is a mission to attempt a second or third time around.
Whilst Limbo has a ‘simplistic’ nature to it, some of the puzzles become increasingly more difficult the further in to the game you get. The most important thing to remember when attempting to solve the puzzle and progress through the game is that everything is there for a reason. For example, boxes lying around, levers, even ropes, there are all there for you to make use of in some way in order to get ahead. That being said, knowing that something is there for a reason does not curtail the frustration of trying to figure out what said reason is.
If you are a fan of the film noir art style and platformer games, especially those that require problem solving skills, then Limbo is one I would recommend. I have yet to complete the game but already I’m intrigued to find out if the boy ever finds his sister. It’s already been teased once so I am currently at that ‘desperate to know’ stage. I may reveal the ending to you. Or maybe you’ll just have to play the game yourself.