Genre: Puzzle-platformer

Platforms: Xbox 360 (XBLA), Playstation 3 (PSN), Steam (Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X)

Multiplayer: No

Developer: Playdead

Release Date: July 21, 2010

LIMBO Review


"Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO." That's the only background information available to players and it's not found in-game - it's the description prior to purchase. LIMBO has no dialog. It barely has any text at all. This absence of conventional narrative creates a palpable loneliness and sense of foreboding right from the outset. Players are immediately stranded in a mysterious world with a dark allure.

LIMBO is a puzzle/platformer, but it's also a living breathing piece of art. Every creature or object encountered is silhouetted against a monochromatic backdrop. The result is a ghostly noir aesthetic, which is equal parts haunting and serene.

Music only plays up at key moments in LIMBO, otherwise players are left to the eerie sound effects of creatures and old machinery. And the developers use this absence of sound to full effect by juxtaposing tranquility with the shock and suspense of a near-death experience. The first time your character dies you will jump.


Players can move, jump, grab, and push but their character is neither strong nor agile. Using this limited skill-set players must overcome an increasingly difficult chain of puzzles featuring boxes, ropes, magnets, gravity, and electricity. Variety is the name of the game here. If the same puzzle mechanic is encountered twice it's layered upon something completely new. The difficulty compounds, but is well adjusted to minimize frustration and (hopefully) remove the desire to seek out a guide online. Reminiscent of Portal, overcoming each puzzle is extremely satisfying and will invariably make you feel like a genius.

Achievement hunting may warrant a second playthrough, but more than likely you will put this game down after you reach the end. And the ending comes quickly since the game is only a few hours long. Replayability is lacking, but LIMBO truly resonates. You are likely to think of this game often and fondly after completion.



LIMBO is minimalist in its design approach (black and white, no dialog, sparse use of music), but this makes for a really tight experience. The developers trimmed all the fat and gameplay never feels boring or redundant. The downside is that LIMBO is an extremely short game with an abrupt ending. There isn't much replay value here, but traversing the enigmatic yet horrific world is well worth the price of admission. LIMBO is an unforgettable experience.

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