If you couldn’t already guess from the trailer and screenshots, LIMBO is a 2D puzzle platformer with a sinister black and white aesthetic, which in my opinion is truly art. No matter what some people might say. How can you not help yourself to be intrigued from just that? Developed by Playdead Studios, the game first got some screenshots way back in 2006, and is finally being released this Wednesday 21st as the first of the Summer of Arcade line-ups and is priced at 1200 Microsoft Points.
You’re in Limbo, the edge hell. You follow the story of a young boy on a search to find out the fate of his sister. As you embark on a journey through this beautiful yet sinister world, you will have to navigate through a treacherous world full of saws, spike traps, monsters, rolling boulders. Basically a world that wants to kill you.
You start the game off with no tutorial, no introduction as to how the games or it’s mechanics works, but if i’m honest — it’s not needed. The game mechanics and controls were so intuitive and instinctive that I found myself mastering them straight away and everything from then on out felt right. You have three controls and very simple ones at that. A joystick, jump, and an action button. You use these simple controls to navigate through a world that’s out to get you.
As you can see from the screens, the art style is beautiful. You have black, white and all shades of gray and a film grain effect. It adds an eerie feel and makes for some amazing level designs. Sound, wow is sound amazing in this game. Completely atmospheric. You have strange noises lurking from the dark and when you fall into water and drown, the sounds get muffled out. All this adds to the overall immersion of the game.
The game is made up of a series of puzzles. Some require platforming and good timing. Others require a pause of thought. Then you come across some that require trial and error type gameplay. Die, respawn and come back with good knowledge on how to get passed the chosen obstacle put in front of you. The developer of LIMBO said it best, describing the gameplay as “Trial by death.” I couldn’t agree with this statement anymore.
There is other added elements that makes these puzzles, unique. For example the gravity switches & orientation bugs — I don’t know if that’s the proper term for it but I will describe it as best I can. Basically, you’re running along and above you is a plant that drops a bug on your head. When it lands on your head, it makes you run into the opposite direction. The only way to rectify this; find a light source and then you can run the other way. It took me a while to figure out I needed to ‘go to the light’ in order to head back the way I wanted to go.
Then gravity switches, do I need to explain these? Just in case, you flip a switch and you float upwards. When these were added to puzzles along with crates, elevators, cog wheels & ropes along with others, it makes for some intense, grim and amazing puzzles.
There is a lot of things I love about this game. The art style for starters. I was a fan of the first few screenshots released and it certainly caught my eye among the masses of the games out there. Then when I played it, I wasn’t disappointed. It was something that was to be admired and to fully understand the grim beauty that lies within; you have to play the game to see for yourself. Another is the games fluidity, it was superb. It wasn’t broke up into a bunch of loading screens that could potentially break up the momentum of the game. Instead you continue to play through each puzzle, one after another until the end of the game. Don’t worry, auto-saves are in hand for people who want to leave the game at a certain point. This really makes the world and its puzzles you play in feel connected.
There was a couple of things that could have been added. First, co-op! Man, would this game work great with co-op. To be able to do all them puzzles I mentioned above in co-op would be amazing. I would most certainly pay for it along with some extra chapters and puzzles designed for co-op — Playdead please do this? Another thing that I was thinking of after I beat the game was, “Maps, where can I make my own?” The levels in LIMBO are beautiful and to be able to create your own then share it with friends would be fantastic. It would add another layer of depth to the game, and could possibly be added in the future as DLC?
Andrew’s final say:
Overall, all I can say is wow. I had such a great time playing LIMBO and I urge people who are on the fence about handing out 1200 Microsoft Points, download the demo this Wednesday 21st when it’s released to the public and see for yourself.