A simple short review, for a simple short game. I finally got to play Limbo after I bought a much more powerful laptop (I am neve going back to desktop machines, they occupy too much space). Anyway, with Limbo behind me it is time to focus on the 3DS library that I have missed so far, which means I will be playing Ocarina of Time 3D and Mario Kart 7, which are both sitting on my shelf, and Super Mario 3D Land for the next couple of months. Meanwhile, read this short review if you want, and recommend it if you like it.
Warning! Not-so-big review approaching!
In an era where bigger is better, Limbo is a delightful well-polished small diamond
The world around you is awfully dark. You wake up in the middle of nowhere. It would be hard to tell exactly where you are if it wasn't for a few shy rays of sunlight breaking through the tree tops right above you. It is a dark forest where the only sounds that can be heard come from the occasional whispering wind, the cracking of a branch and the distant murmurs of nature. Due to the darkness, everything standing in front of you has no color, or face; you can clearly tell their shapes by their distinct shadows, but it is impossible to see if that platform made out of a piece of trunk is safe to walk on or if that human-shaped form is just another child like you or a bizarre human-like creature. Limbo is all shadows, mystery and atmosphere; it has the dense air you would expect from a more realistic thriller, but instead, here the creepiness and the constant feeling that there is something lurking out there somewhere is wrapped with a platforming gameplay and is pleasantly contrasting with cute cartoonish lines.
Limbo is yet another platformer where you go from left to right, a constant journey from the beginning to the end, but here the concept of a stage is non-existent. The world of Limbo is only one, it is a finite yet long string of obstacles that feature an amusing blend between puzzle and platforming. There are no loading times, the game is one cohesive stage from beginning to end, as you go from forest to caves and from caves to an industrial site you watch as the environment slowly transforms and it all makes for a very unique and immersive experience as the game draws you into its darkness with amazing efficiency, it all feels uncomfortably real and believable and due to that Limbo becomes an absolute blast to play and let yourself drown into.
The controls are as simple as the color palette the game uses: you can move, jump and grab onto objects to interact with them, and that is it. The joy of playing Limbo comes from solving all of its puzzles and getting away from all of its traps one by one and moving on to see what is going to happen next. The puzzles go from straightaway block-pushing riddles to much more complex gravity-related obstacles that will appear down the line, and in total going from Limbo's starting point to its curious ending will take most players about four hours. However, the game has some nice achievements for those who are willing to do some extra exploration, something that is bound to extend the game's duration for a short while.
Limbo is not exactly a challenging game, but it requires a lot of patience from players as most of its puzzles are a trial-and-error process, since it is nearly impossible to fully grasp the nature of most of the puzzles at first glance; however, in a display of wonderful game design, Limbo features extremely well-placed checkpoints that stir the game away from frustration. Most of the time, you will be experimenting different solutions only to end up being killed in absolutely horrific ways, which despite being softened up by the fact that the game's shadowy silhouette, still end up being surprisingly gory for a game of this nature. The gory deaths are no coincidence, they are here to add to the looming threat hanging in the game's atmosphere and to tell players that even though Limbo has a cartoonish look to it, its world is a disturbing unforgiving place.
Given the compact nature of Limbo, developers had plenty of time to pay attention to detail, and they made sure to use it in a productive way. Every corner of Limbo adds to game's atmospheric vibe, and the game's visuals are no different. Obviously, the art direction the game took is quite unique and mesmerizes at first sight, but it is the animation that makes everything click together. Limbo is a slow moving game, and the way on which the shadow animations slowly progress in their very calculated, smooth and defined moves adds another layer of fright to this onion of creepiness. The same can be sad about the sound, which replaces music for very well-produced noise: the wind, the flapping of wings, the steps slowly advancing through the grass, everything comes off amazingly realistic and close to the players.
Could Limbo have used a few improvements here and there? Sure, why not. As atmospheric as it may be, the game loses a bit of its dark value once the character leaves the forest and steps into an industrial site, in a game that is so sensitive it is hard to pinpoint exactly why that happens, but it may be due to the fact that the strange kids that appear in the forest and tr to attack you through a big portion of the game's opening act simply disappear once the game gets to an area that should be supposedly more populated. Besides, the ending might end up leaving some questions out in the open that some players would have loved to see answered, but given how this successful and mathematically well-crafted game has been embraced by the gaming world, we could end up getting a sequel that sheds a light into some doubts. All in all, Limbo is one stunning piece of software, and in an era where bigger is wrongly taken as a synonym of better, it is delightful to see a small, but ridiculously polished adventure, shine bright.
@Pierst179 No, actually it is, via download over steam, it was the collectors edition I saw. I'm not too familiar with Computer gaming yet, I'm actually starting to buy my first few Computer games right now, so I somehow missed that you can download this game.
@Foolz3h: You love catching contradictions, don't you?! :lol: @SloganYams: I completely see your point, but I had a lot of fun with the game. Maybe it was the "rooting for the little guy" thing. @The_Deepblue: Rayman Origins is a blast! I hope you are enjoying it. @Blueguy93: It is an amazing game. @stephenage: Yes, I expected that. @riou7: You can beat it in two sit downs, it is pretty short and keeps you going. @sman3579: Thanks. @ad0234: Wow, I didn't know the PC version wasn't out yet over there.
Awesome review, thumbs up. I can't wait to get this game, nobody's going to stop me from, though it's a shame that here in Europe the PC version of Limbo is being released somewhere during March in 2012. I don't have a PS3 or Xbox360, so yeah, still have to wait, but the wait will be worth it, for sure.
Looks like we're playing the same games at around the same time. I held off on Limbo for a while until recently. I reviewed it and scored it an 8.5. Currently playing Rayman Origins.
That was a really generous 9. Personally speaking, I think, at best, Limbo is a 7.0, and that's when I'm in a good mood. The game is absolutely beautiful to look at, and has a great sense of atmosphere, but it also isn't very fun, its puzzles and platforming don't even really deserve mention. I think Limbo just proves that people are maybe too willing to root for the little guy, to the point that when an Indy game captures a sense of atmosphere, people overblow it into one of gaming's great achievements in recent years, which Limbo most certainly isn't.