Review: Limbo


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For gamers who have played their way through their holiday game list, I would like to suggest a game you have probably heard of at some point but never took the time to play; it is probably not quite like anything you have experienced. 

Limbo is one of most depressing, thought-provoking, wince-inducing, and darkly beautiful games I have ever played. 

A two-dimensional puzzle game developed by Playdead and newly available on console, PC, Mac, and mobile devices, Limbo is a thoughtful game, both in design and in what it asks of the player. It offers no instruction for its challenges, making the player figure out every step for him- or herself. However, it does follow the cardinal rule of puzzle games: All the tools and capabilities at the player’s disposal are laid out and made clear at the start. 

As for its puzzles, Limbo is challenging but always fair. Those looking for a thinking game will find that the puzzles demand intuitive answers, because the hazards they face get increasingly complex. The key to success is anything from finding a clever way to avoid a trap to manipulating gravity to reach the next area. 

Limbo takes a very hands-off approach to telling the story. You wake up in a dark forest, need to progress through puzzles and traps to escape, and try not to die horribly along the way. But it is filled with little narrative moments when you encounter other people or creatures, both of which are filled with ill will toward you.

The game’s other noteworthy feature is the art design and atmosphere. Colored black, white, and gray, everything is rendered as a 2D silhouette. Despite this, none of the detail of the world is lost.

The art style also contributes to the atmosphere of the game. It is relentlessly dark, making the player’s quest a struggle to survive and escape this depressive landscape of forests, swamps, and abandoned cities.

Limbo is a perfect example of a game that has successfully fused its narrative, play, and style into one package without sacrificing any of the three along the way. For those who take it seriously, it also manages to be more than a game, but an experience, akin to reading an engrossing novel or viewing an artistic film.

If you haven’t played Limbo since its release in 2010 or want to try it on Xbox One for the first time, then it is a title that is worth the time to puzzle your way through. 

Limbo is an indie game developed by Playdead and is available for Xbox One and 360, PlayStation 3 and Vita, PC, Steam, Mac, and iPhone for $4.99-9.99.

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