When it comes to the video game industry, one doesn’t need to look too far to come across an inventive and ambitious indie project, though a true gem such as Limbo isn’t an everyday find either.
Putting you in the shoes of a nameless young boy stuck in a desolate world painted with a grim palette of black and white, Limbo has you wandering through forests all the way to mechanical landscapes, solving puzzles and escaping dangers as you go along. There’s no music accompanying you throughout your adventure – sound is only generated by the uneasy ambiance, the young protagonist’s prying footsteps and your occasional mishaps which mostly end up being fatal.
Speaking of fatality, there’s a lot of dying involved in Limbo. Every new puzzle is built around the concept of trial and error, with many of them taking on the mask of unpredictability and dangers only revealing themselves when it’s already too late, forcing you to restart the checkpoint and try again until you realise what to do and how to avoid certain death. The inevitable death sequences that result are both brutal and spectacular. At certain points you’ll feel like jumping down that cliff or getting close to that spider just to see what might happen.
Spiders. Limbo may turn out to be a nightmare as much for an arachnophobe as it is for its helpless protagonist. There’s a particularly memorable segment involving you trying to avoid the deadly clutches—or should I say those icky icky legs that can make a person curl up in a corner and cry—of a relatively gigantic spider. It’s not pretty, and neither is your little hero’s demise at the hands of it if you make a wrong move.
When it comes to visuals, gameplay, and atmosphere, Limbo really shines. However, there are a few moments where the puzzles become a tad frustrating, particularly towards the end, and there’s also a lack of change in the environment at that point that diminishes the experience, if only a bit. There’s no doubt that the chapters taking place in the forest are a little more inventive and overall enjoyable than those set in a more mechanical environment, which debuts in the latter half of the game.
Such flaws, however, pale in comparison to what the rest of the game has to offer, and Limbo definitely deserves praise for its creativity and originality. There’s nothing quite like it out there at the moment, which in itself is an achievement worth noting.
* Limbo is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC