Having heard so much hype about this little game by Playdead, I had to have a go. After being gripped so tightly by the demo, I needed to get the full version. Here’s a look back on my trip through ”the edge of hell”.
The aim of this 2D platformer is to guide an unnamed young boy through various traps and puzzles to find his sister. Throughout the game the scenery changes from a forest to a more industrial set, which both bring their own sets of puzzles and challenges (creatures lurk in the forest and there’s a risk of electrocution further down the line). There are some nifty uses of gravity in the second half and the attention to detail of how different forces work is just brilliant. It is clear the developers have put a lot of thought into this game.
The aforementioned traps and puzzles are pretty killer. The first time I died, I was horrified (a bear trap caught me by surprise). Despite lack of colour, deaths can still be very graphic. The game is so brutal and heartless to the young boy, you feel almost instant empathy for him despite there not being any dialogue. Sadly, as it happens, the only way to get through the game is to die a few times to work out how each puzzle works; the developers call this ‘Trial and Death’. I soon realised that the sooner I accept this fact, the quicker I could get through the game because there’s no point trying to get a perfect score with this one. The game never gets repetitive as each puzzle is a new challenge and requires lots of different techniques. The controls for the game were very simple as most platformers are and I found them both smooth and easy to grasp. I played my copy on a keyboard so I’d be intrigued to see what it’s like on a control pad.
The look of the game is unlike anything I have seen in a long time; with its monochrome tones, film grain and flickering lights it is wonderfully simplistic yet powerful. It’s almost like watching an old film noir. The soundtrack is minimalistic and ambient so even though it is hardly there, it marries well with the visual elements to create a haunting atmosphere.
Altogether Limbo is a beautiful thing; it’s sad, poignant and a great challenge. It takes gaming and raises the level to thought-provoking art, and for that I applaud it. I would be just as happy watching it as I was playing it. The only let-down for me is that it isn’t long enough… but I guess it had to end sometime. I will just have to wait for another game from these fantastic developers.