Limbo Review

Limbo (Only available on Xbox Live Arcade)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
Publisher: Playdead
Developer: Playdead
Release Date: July 21st, 2010
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points

Parent Talk: Limbo is rated T for teen due to animated blood and violence, but it’s presented in a tastefully artistic way.  There’s no shortage of carnage though.  Your character may be walking along, minding his own business, only to be split in half by a runaway buzz saw.  However, the entire game is in black and white color.  Does that make the game any more suitable?  As a parent, only you can decide.

Technologically-speaking, XBLA games typically feature resolutions up to 1080p and support surround sound options up to 5.1 Dolby Digital.  That holds true in this case as well.  The atmosphere is breath-taking if you have the right audio-video equipment.

Limbo is one of the best XBLA games I’ve ever played.  I adored Shadow Complex, but this one is a completely different beast.  It strikes a chord, and never lets up.  The experience, four to five hours’ worth, takes place within a strikingly black and white environment.  The character is completely shadowed, except for his glowing white eyes.  At times it’s creepy, but it’s jaw-dropping to watch him move along the stunning backdrops.  I could see how this isn’t for everyone, but all my spectators have walked away impressed.  The gameplay is simply superb as you trek from one area to the next, solving puzzles.  There’s no loading, music, or interruptions of any kind.  It is…brilliant, and worthy of your 1200 Microsoft points.

The Great:

The atmosphere.  I’ve mentioned it already, but will again.  Imagine a platformer with billions of puzzles, all played in black and white with incredibly artistic environments.  That’s Limbo.  If you watch the trailer above, you might know what I’m talking about.  There’s nothing like it on the market, period.  These screenshots and trailers don’t do the game justice.  Seeing is believing, and playing even more so.

The Good:

+ A mission to live.  That sounds ridiculous, but it’s not.  This 2D puzzle platformer was designed to creatively kill you.  Imagine this.  You’re moving right, just like Mario teaches, and suddenly you walk right over a bear trap on the floor that was hard to see.  Off goes your head, arms, legs, you know.  You restart right there, but this time notice it, move it along, and it traps a loose vine.  This allows you to traverse an area you couldn’t.  Picture that about ten thousand times more imaginative, and there’s Limbo.  Instead of trial and error, it’s trial and death…and works so well that I can’t believe we’re only now playing it.

+ Size doesn’t matter.  Yet in this case, it does.  The game lasts around four to five hours depending on your ability to progress.  The puzzle difficulty increases as you proceed.  Any more, and I think everyone would tire of it all.  Any less, and the game would feel like a rip-off.  Limbo’s pacing and length couldn’t be more perfect.

+ Fun physics.  Limbo’s world has gravity, like ours.  You can move objects to and fro, but the physics are what try to trip you up.  Say you come to an incline and there’s a button on the top that requires a block to hold it down.  You can’t merely shove a block up the incline; that would be too easy.  Limbo’s physics force you to think.  Its puzzles aren’t for children, so to speak.  Brilliant!

+ Silence is golden.  The silence adds a great deal to the environmental ambiance.  The game is creepy, heart-racing, and somber…all at different times.

+ Superb animations.  See Limbo in motion, and you’d understand.  It’s incredible.  This tiny guy climbing up over large obstacles looks seamless and beautiful.

The Bad:

– Halfway through, the puzzles switch from nature to technology.  It’s not bad, but the puzzles become much harder and more sci-fi, whereas you came from fleeing a massive spider and children that want you dead.  You know, the good stuff.

The Ugly:

I’ve never seen a virtual being die in so many different ways.  It’s like Dragon’s Lair all over again.  It’s not bad, just disgusting at times.

The Lowdown:

Limbo is one of the best XBLA releases ever, and one you simply can’t live without.  If you enjoy puzzle games, platformers or videogames in general, give this one a go.  You won’t regret it.

11 thoughts on “Limbo Review”

  1. Nice review. I thought this would be one of those art games with subpar gameplay, but to be frank the positive reception surprised me. It literally came out of nowhere. 1200 sounds like a bit much for a 5 hour long download, but it looks like the art greatly compensates for its abrupt ending.

    Thinking of checking this out. Haven’t downloaded anything in awhile and I’ve skipped on Braid.

  2. I’ve just downloaded this and will try it once I’m done with Ghostbusters. I’m with Ahmed though, 1200 microsoft points is around 15-17$ which is way too much for digital arcade games. This is cheap to distribute, it sucks that everyone is going this road now. Remember the good old days when arcade games where 400 points with the occasional 800 point one?

  3. I know it’s expensive guys, but really, try it out. I had SO much fun playing it the other day you couldn’t imagine. Now that I’m done with Singularity, it’s time to go back to Crackdown and finish that one off so that I might FINALLY have a chance to play BioShock 2.

  4. Definitely looks like a fun game; I wish it was available on the PSN as well (I no longer have an Xbox360 due to hardware failure and refuse to give Microsoft another $300 to replace a system they should have built properly to begin with.)
    I’m actually a little surprised to see it available on a console, most games like this seem to be released primarily on PC via Steam or a similar download service.

  5. @David: Yeah I hear you. I know a lot of people in a similar situation. This really is a great game though, and while I’m not as insane aas Steven here, I do think everyone should at least try it. Why I say Steven is insane is because he’s trying to get an achievement that requires him to complete the game while only dying 5 times. Something like that anyways. Whenever you try to do something like that, you’re just asking for pain. That’s Steven though ;) Meanwhile I’m blasting my way through Ghostbusters on professional difficulty level and having a blast doing so.

  6. You’re one crazy cat Steven. I will never do this achievement. I’m about to start Mass Effect 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction though, so maybe I can pull off something amazing in those games. I’m really excited for both actually. Managed to score them both for $30, which was awesome for Splinter Cell as that game isn’t very old.

  7. Mass Effect 2 is awesome… probably would win GOTY if it wouldn’t have been released so early. I don’t know if you read IGN’s article on there current game of the year but 75% of there writers chose Mass Effect 2. As for Splinter Cell, it’s a solid game, I liked it.

  8. Haven’t read anything Steven. After finishing off Ghostbusters, I’m in the mood for another game. Both of these should suffice, I hope. Splinter Cell looked awesome from what I saw at least year’s E3 so I’m happy to score it for so cheap. With the gift card I had, I paid all of $5 for it ;)

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