I love video games. However, Limbo seems like more than your typical video game. Over the next several minutes I will attempt to put into words why everyone needs to play through Limbo at least once in their lives. It will renew your faith in video games and what a video can achieve.
I have been holding off playing Limbo for some time. In fact the game is quite old with an initial release on the Xbox 360 Marketplace all the way back in June 2010. (You can play on any platform now) I had heard so much about the game and even played a demo back then. However, it wasn’t until it’s availability on the Steam that I finally pulled the trigger. I’m glad I waited to play this, which is something I never thought I’d say. However, playing so close to my 23 inch monitor with noise cancelling headphones turned up was seriously the way to go.
You play as a young boy trying to find his lost sister in this insanely effective sidescroller. The game is simplistic and doesn’t offer much in the way of plot or rewards but what it lacks in substance in more than makes up for it in pure poetic freneticism. This game is the only argument one needs to explain why video games can be considered art. The monochromatic setting and sound design are as much a character in this puzzler as our unnamed protagonist. Never have I been so on the edge of my seat, in pure terror, playing a sidescroller in my game playing life.
The game takes a “solve or die” approach to it’s puzzles. And when they say die, they mean it. You know you have done something wrong when you are impaled with spikes or a boulder crushes your tiny body into smitherines. The simplicity is what throws you initially. You can go left, right, jump up and an action button that allows you to move objects. That is it. In several of the later puzzles it seems that more is needed but at that point you have become so accustomed to the method that things should come easily, they don’t. Puzzles become more elaborate as you advance and solving them is a reward in it of itself. You will die many times before you reach the games conclusion. Here’s a look at what you’ll be getting yourself into when you decide to enter Limbo:
There are no levels, no XP bonuses, no load-outs or multi-player. It’s the player immersing themselves with the character and that’s it. It’s the most intimate game I have ever played (in awhile). It is exquisitely executed and achieves something few games in recent memory have been able to pull off; pure unadulterated playability. I sat down and finished the game from start to finish in a single weekend which I can understand would be a negative thing for a lot of players. For me, that spells masterpiece. I’ll grant it that is doesn’t offer much else than what your seeing on the screen but I have never in my life started and finished a game in a single weekend and hats not without trying. Most games just aren’t compelling enough to warrant that kind of focus from me. I couldn’t pull my self away from Limbo even if I tried. Sure there were moments I had to regroup and take an energy break so my mind could get back to work solving puzzles, but those times were few and far between as I couldn’t wait to complete the game. I have heard and read a lot of reviews that have issues with the lack-luster way the game ends. I will not ruin the moment but for me, completing the game was so rewarding on it’s own, I didn’t require anything showy or some kind of “Atta Boy” from the developers Playdead. That would have seemed forced and not fitting of the game I had just played. I realized that was it and started playing it again thinking I would have figured out it’s tricks. I immediately discovered on a replay that the game sort of frys your mind that thinking your going to skate through a second go is a fools errand.
Limbo, in my honest opinion, is of the highest quality a video game can achieve. Limbo is available on every platform and thus deserves your time and money.