Limbo is a puzzle-platformer from the Danish independent developers: Playdead. The game is dark, mysterious, and horrifying. A young boy is tossed into a hostile world, and the player must navigate deadly puzzles and environments to escape. I thought the gameplay was alright, but it did have quite a few issues in that department. However, Limbo really shined in its atmosphere and its visuals.
I quite liked the unique art direction in Limbo. The entire game is made up of black and white silhouettes and it solidifies the dark and dingy atmosphere. The world’s hostility is apparent from the start: everything is trying to kill you. Giant spiders, terrifying machinery, mind-controlling parasites, and other children are all trying to hunt you down. There is no music, only ambient sounds that could send a chill down your spine. Watching your character get impaled by a giant spider and flung across the sky just about sums up what this game has in store for the player. The atmosphere and visuals melded into one creepy and disturbing experience.
The gameplay of Limbo fell a little flat in my opinion. It was a puzzle-platformer, but neither the puzzles nor the platforming were really anything special. The platforming required quite a bit of precision, which is fine, but the character himself is quite awkward so it can be difficult to judge what jumps are possible and what jumps are not. The puzzles had a decent amount of variety which I enjoyed and there were quite a few great puzzles. Unfortunately, most of the puzzles just ended up being trial-and-error. Often times the puzzle boils down to: “What does this switch do? Oh, it kills you unless you move that box to a specific location beforehand”. There was really no way of knowing how to solve many of the puzzles without dying first. This was really unfortunate as the whole atmosphere of the game was supposed to be disturbing and horrifying, which it was until I figured out that I just needed to run head first into everything and die to make any progress. Things tend to be a lot less scary when they go from “Oh god how do I stop this from killing me?” to “Well I have to let it kill me before I can see the solution”. Luckily, there were plenty of well-placed checkpoints that kept deaths from heavily impeding on progress. The other issue I had with the gameplay was it was just… slow. The main character walked slowly, death scenes (as plentiful as they were) were drawn out, and a large chunk of the game was just pushing around boxes and climbing ropes.
Overall, I think Limbo was alright. For a quick three to four hour game, it does a great job of setting the mood and being memorable. Thanks to its art direction and its atmosphere, Limbo was certainly unique. There is also a sort of beauty in the game’s overall simplicity. I just wish the gameplay held up a little bit better. If you are into moody and dark games, then I would definitely recommend Limbo. If you are looking for great puzzles or platforming, I would look elsewhere.