Limbo (PC) Review

This was a long time coming. Back in the day, Limbo was a 360 only title, and frankly one of a handful that was tempting me to buy the system. Still, at the time, it wasn't enough to get past my own personal rule to get a machine, so I simply could not play this game. Then something awesome happened. The game came out of PC and PS3. So how was it in this second shot at life? Let's find out.

Story: Limbo's story is VERY ambiguous. It never explains how or why anything is really happening. All you know is you are a boy who wakes up in the middle of a forest and before long, have to deal with traps, giant spiders, and various physics based puzzles to get out of it. Where are you going? Why? Who's waiting for you? Will we ever answer any of these questions? I don't think the game will ever answer properly. And the ending only lends itself to making these questions. There is no obvious answer as to what is going on or why.

That said, this isn't exactly a game that demands such things. Rather then rely on plot, this game relies on atmosphere to set the mood and keep the player interested in what as well as the challenge, but we will get to that in the next section.

Graphics: Limbo is not a complex looking game. Basically it looks like it is made of shadow puppets, complete with the light being unfocused around the edges of the screen and some shadows being held farther from the screen then others, making them not as pronounced. But the effect works. It carries the feel of being alone perfectly... and when you are not alone, the feel of the menace you can only guess at just as well.

And at the same time, this lets the game break this when it needs to with the effect of a sledgehammer. The first time you watch the shadow of something organic not die like a shadow puppet, but die like a creature you can only see the shadow of, it really can be disturbing. And it never really gets better since you are never shown it enough for it to become just something that happens. Few games can achieve this well. Limbo achieves it perfectly.

Sound: Do not expect much of music in this game, it's virtually non-existent. But that seems to be part of the minimalist theme, and again plays right up to the game's strengths brilliantly. You will hear everything that happens in crystal clarity without the music to get in the way, letting the brutality of whatever happens take the full front and helping it hit home stronger then most "realistic" games ever could. From the snap of a trap as it catches you, to the thud of the spider stabbing with such force at the ground you feel the controller shake, everything is just pristine to leave you in the mood of the game... uneasy, and yet enraptured.

Gameplay: Being a 360 game originally, I decided to play this game with my 360 controller, and found the controls to be exceptionally simple. The analog stick moved me left or right while A and B were jump and use. In short, outside of a stick, this game could have played on an NES pad. But don't let this simplicity fool you. The game itself is tough and VERY unforgiving.

Earlier puzzles will have you breezing through as they are simply "jump this" or "move this so you can jump it and the next thing" slowly developing into more interesting and complex puzzles. Nor will you always be in full control. Later in the game, there are maggot-like things that will jump on your head and literally force you to move in a direction. You can still grab and jump, but any attempt to change direction will only slow you down or speed you up as the boy now fights for control of his body. Expect this game to challenge you... a lot.

The only fault I can come up with on this game is it's length. I'm usually very slow in playing a game as I love to take my time and see what it offers. I was done with Limbo in about 2 hours if Steam is to be believed. And when a game makes the original Portal look long, there is something to complain about there, especially when it's not designed to be beaten in one sitting.

Bugs: I honestly ran into no bugs during my time with Limbo. None at all. This is a very well crafted title.

Overall: Simply put, I loved this game and anyone with a sense of macob and who enjoys the occasional puzzler should probably pick it up. If it wasn't fantastic, I would tell you the $10 they want for it now is too much, just due to how short it is... but it is a masterpiece in it's own right. Get this when you get a chance.

Acquired through: Steam

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