Remember when platform games dominated the video game world? There was a time when these games were the undisputed top sellers in the industry. Mascots like Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot reigned supreme and everyone loved them.
How things have changed.
Nowadays people would rather play mindless first person shooters instead. Thank the gaming gods for independent developers who are keeping the genre alive and thriving via downloadable titles. LIMBO has the classic 2D side scrolling platforming action that we old schoolers love but it also has a very unique and chilling art style that sets it apart from anything that has come before or is currently available in this genre.
LIMBO has you in control of a boy who is trapped in some sort of weird nightmare realm (most likely Limbo itself) where everyone and everything is out to kill him. And kill him they will. Like platformers of old, LIMBO is relentlessly punishing. You will die at seemingly every turn as many of the traps and puzzles are trial and error based. This could lead to frustration but since the death animations are so gory and horrifying you won’t mind dying just to see the various ways that the little boy can be killed. And yes I realize that I seem like a terrible person for enjoying the death of a child but it’s not often that you see children being decapitated or impaled in a video game so to me it was pretty damn cool because it was just so wrong. The developers of this game are twisted individuals and I like them for that. Despite all of the dying that will occur, the puzzles and level design are fair. If you have patience you will eventually succeed…even if you do die 100 times before doing so.
As great as the level design is, the real standout feature of LIMBO is in the minimalist art and sound design. The game has absolutely no color to it. It’s all either black, white or gray. This art choice really help give the game an atmospheric and foreboding air to it. The sound design also helps to amplify the oppressive mood. There is no real music to speak of but the few times that it does show up will send chills down your spine because you know that something very bad is about to happen to you. Animals can also be heard in the background from time to time but they sound like weird, distorted versions of whatever creature that they are supposed to be. And let’s not forget the various sounds of human meat being sliced, smashed and punctured that you will hear after you die. Deliciously disgusting sound effects at their gory best. The art and sound design makes you feel like the entire world is against you and that there is no hope of surviving or escaping.
While I liked the minimalist quality to the art and sound design I didn’t like it so much when it came to the story. That is to say that there really isn’t one and is by far LIMBO’s biggest failing. The world was so moody and haunting that I wanted to know why this little boy was in it and what he was running towards. There is something that happens at the very end of the game that sort of answers the question of what your goal was but it isn’t very clear why this was important. I know that I should judge LIMBO by its gameplay and design but I wanted some sort of story that let me understand the motivations of the main character and let me know exactly what this place was. I expected all to be revealed at the end but unfortunately I was left hanging and I didn’t appreciate the lack of answers. Old school platforming games didn’t really have stories either but you at least knew what your ultimate goal was and why you were being put through the proverbial ringer. LIMBO has no real narrative direction.
LIMBO is a solid platformer and has a very cool and disturbing art design but don’t be fooled by the hype surrounding it. If you’re a platform junkie like me then this game is right up your alley and you should check it out. For people who aren’t the biggest fans of the genre I suggest you wait until there is a price drop since the asking price of $14.99 is a bit steep for a game that barely has a story and is only about 3 hours long. LIMBO isn’t a bad game but it’s not as great as big time game websites make it out to be. But it’s a platformer and even if it isn’t as amazing as I expected I still appreciate it for its role in keeping the genre alive.
- Challenging puzzles
- Scary art and sound design
- Brutal death animations
- No real story
- Extremely short
- The hype surrounding it wasn’t justified