Review: Limbo (Xbox 360)July 20th, 2010 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Reviews, Xbox 360
Before the silhouette platformer becomes a crowded subgenre, it’s nice to have one game that sets the bar extremely high for the followers that are inevitably on the way. Limbo features a mix of platforming, puzzles, style, tension, and brutality that is a rare sight these days on XBLA or any platform these days. Limbo kicks off Summer of Arcade in style with a great game that manages to pack in equal parts style and substance into one of the most unique and stimulating games of the year.
For a game like this, it’s surprising that Limbo doesn’t feature one ounce of story to put the events of the game in perspective. It begins with a young boy waking up in a dark, mysterious forest that quickly turns out to be a much more dangerous place than you’d expect as he must avoid deadly traps and creatures that he comes upon. You could scour the internet to find out more about the story, but it’s more rewarding to go into it unspoiled so that you can experience the game for yourself.
In spite of the unique style that Limbo features, the game itself is more of a traditional side-scrolling adventure game with a heavy emphasis on physics and puzzles. You’re basically exploring the environment to get past traps, solve puzzles, and survive the encounters with large, deadly creatures that would like to kill you. Unlike most side-scrolling puzzle platformers, Limbo features simple controls that really fit the minimalist vibe that the game has in spades with just a jump button and an action button for any other actions you need to perform.
In addition to all of the platforming you’ll be doing, Limbo features plenty of puzzles and traps that you must solve and avoid that make up a lot of the game’s appeal. Though the forest has plenty of natural traps with ponds, pits, and deadly creatures, you’ll see a lot of manmade puzzles that results in a lot of gruesome deaths that may include a bit more gore than you’d expect from the minimalist visuals. The great thing about the puzzles is that the game consistently adds new twists to them to keep you on your toes for as long as the game lasts. Limbo does a great job of keeping the pace and tension high as you move through the world.
As you may be able to tell from the screenshots, Limbo features a minimalist visual style with no HUD elements and a black-and-white silhouette visual style that gives it a great look. The backgrounds manages to add a lot to the atmosphere with a bit of haze and blurriness that adds a bit of mystery to your surroundings while still having enough detail to give you as much info as you need to know about where you’re at. The boy’s animations may be one of the few negatives, as he has a bit of rag doll vibe to the way he moves around and jumps that looks odd in motion.
Following the minimalist theme, Limbo doesn’t really have a soundtrack. Throughout most of the game, you’ll hear the sound effects of the boy walking on ground, wood, or metal, the creatures you find, and the noisy traps you’ll have to avoid. There is a bit of music, though it is used to play up tense moments with a single sustained note that is very effective.
Though you could reference a few games that Limbo seems to be like, it offers an exciting and surreal experience that is wholly unique to Limbo. It took us just under five hours to beat the game the first time and the achievements offer some decent replay value, though this isn’t the kind of game where your purchasing decision should revolve around the amount of content it offers. If you’ve seen the trailers and have bought into the experience, it’s definitely worth the 1200 points ($15) that Limbo costs while those that are still on the fence should definitely check out the demo first.