Indie games, like everything else in gaming, is hit or miss. Some indie games attempt to bring something new to the table while others take a familiar formula and mix it up a bit. Limbo is the latter taking elements from games that veteran gamers will probably recognize, but put in a package that has not been seen before.
In Limbo, you control a boy that’s looking for his sister in Limbo. Yes that’s all you get for storyline because there will be plenty of interpretations of the plot once the gaming public gets their hands on it. There are so many nuances and details throughout the game that you feel that there’s a deeper story hidden, and the only way to learn about that story is to replay certain areas again and again to see how it all fits. A common theme you’ll find in this review that the simplistic look and gameplay of Limbo is just the surface of this complex game.
Reminiscent of an indie film, Limbo is only done in black and white. No colors or 3D, but instead a very animated 2D style. Your character has a very artistic look to him with only white eyes on a black silhouette, and the world has many instances where the objects and creatures on screen are simply mesmerizing. Again, what comes to mind when playing through this game are those movies that choose black and white rather than color to give their film a distinct yet considerably powerful look to it as Limbo has done. Keeping the game devoid of color, your mind wants to almost see the color that should be there making you pay even more attention to those object that should have some sort of color to it. Then there are scenes that are so detailed that you may overlook the lack of color because you see so much around you that color becomes not important. It’s simply an impressive sight to see a game that has no color yet provides such artistic imagery.
As the graphics of Limbo remind me of various black and white movies, the game itself brings back memories of multiple games that I’ve played throughout my time as a gamer. Essentially the game combines platforming that most gamers are familiar with, and puts you in puzzle situations that require a lot of thought. As you make your way through the level, you’ll eventually come to an obstacle of some sort. Whether it be a ledge too high to reach, a body of water to traverse, or a creature in your way, it will be your task to figure out how to get by as your character does not have any abilities aside from jumping, running, and interacting with objects.
Not only does your character not have any abilities, but the boy is frail. In the words of Until We Win host Lord Kat, you’re going to die... a lot. You can’t swim, survive long drops, defend yourself against creatures, or even take a hit to the head from a box falling from a certain height. Limbo might as well have been called "Trial andError" as you will be doing that for hours on end. Thankfully the developers Play Dead Studios (kind of fitting that they would have "dead' in their name) made dying less of a hassle. The game is split into areas where the puzzle is located. This means you’ll always find yourself right when the puzzle starts, and you can’t get any further until you pass the puzzle. The deaths in the game are particularly brutal making for this to be the bloodiest black and white game. Dying is especially painful to watch in certain situations when you realize that this is a child that has just been offed in such a callous way. It fits with the nature of the game as the seemingly simple and innocence of a child searching for his sister takes such a harsh turn making for a more dramatic experience sans the audible narrative.
Taking about 5 hours on average to complete, the only true reason to keep playing Limbo is for achievements. I must add the achievements are far from being conventional as well as being far from easy making for a true challenge for achievement whores.
Limbo is a game for a certain type of gamer. A gamer that enjoys a good challenge in a game rather than having it be overtly difficult, someone that appreciates a game that feels familiar to other games of the past, while not being a complete knock-off, and wants a taste of something new with a flavor that is still recognizable. For that reason, I can’t recommend that everyone needs to play this game, but I do feel that people should play this game. If anything, this game is one of those refreshing breaths of air that a gamer needs to take here and there to remind you that there are games that offer something different.