My Review: Limbo. Dark and Moody Atmosphere in a Brutal World.

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  • Genre: 2D Puzzle Platformer.
  • Developed & Published by: Playdead
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, Consoles.
  • Business Model: Base Game.
  • Copy Purchased by Myself

Preamble

Limbo is a game that caught my eye long before I finally picked it up in the bundle. I had initially put it on my Steam wishlist where it sat for quite a few months and due to lack of finances, I never picked it up. I actually decided to remove it from my Steam wishlist because it wasn’t a high enough priority for me to invest money or time into. Funny enough, a week later it showed up in the Humble Bundle V so I figured, why not? So it became one of the main reasons I purchased that Bundle. So, it worked out in the end.

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Overall Gameplay Thoughts

You play as an unnamed, and apparently mute, boy searching through dark woods and city landscapes for something. According to the game description, you’re looking for his sister. Oddly enough, there is no mention of this in the game though it’s implied. There isn’t much of a story in this game. You simply wake up in a forest, with no idea who you are or what’s going on. In the background, you see trees and as you go along you start seeing buildings, plants and factories. It is almost as if your in a side world to the “real world” but the game never really explains this. The game has a distinct ending, but its a bit abrupt and isn’t that satisfying to me. There isn’t much to spoil about the ending of the game, but I won’t spoil it so you’ll have to play it to find out what happens.

This story’s character is no saint, to say the least. While one could make the claim that it was kill or be killed, he does some things that make me wonder. There are certain parts where the kid will kill the other kids via traps. There is also one point of the game where you have to pull a leg out of a spider that’s been trying to kill you in order to progress further. Usually, you feel justified to an enemy, but ugh, doing that really made me queasy.

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Puzzle Thoughts

So what about the puzzles themselves? Well, they weren’t too bad. They tended to range from jumping around, moving objects to the right place, using the physics engine and jumping at the right time, otherwise you were dead. It also includes some gravity puzzles as well as a part where an insect limits your movement. The overall difficulty curve is gentle and gradual for most of the time. None of the puzzles got to the point that required a ridiculous amount of precision in order to progress though. However, I did find some of the puzzles can be frustratingly opaque. I ran into a couple that required some help from guides. One other thing I should point out is that while the game auto-saves as you progress, there are a few puzzles that if you screw up, it sets you back a little bit more than I would like, which can lead to some frustration as you redo the steps over and over again until you get it right.

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PC Settings and Audio/Video

PC settings are fairly limited though you don’t need many for 2D Games. You can change are controls and brightness levels. No V-Sync, AA, AF, resolution options or anything else. It’s limited but to the game’s credit, seems to scale well from my experience. I never had any lag or crashing or other issues crop up during gameplay. The game is very light on graphic settings, though your not going to really need to change them as long as you have a decent computer. It is controller compatible if you prefer controllers. The keybindings aren’t changeable, but I found the default ones are smartly placed.

The game’s OST is very atmospheric. At first the music stays in the background, but as you progress along and get into the city-section, the music starts getting in your face, almost overwhelming you as you try and solve the puzzles all the way to the end of the game. The sounds itself sound very realistic, though sometimes muted. There is a flying insect in the game that slightly creeped me out thanks to the sound design.

Limbo’s unique visuals and atmosphere caught my eye with this game.  Its black, white and gray color scheme lends to the overall tone of the game which is just down right dark. It also uses a film grain as well as some blurring to add a sense of an otherworldly looking feel to it. The visuals add the right amount of detail with grass and hair put where needed. Limbo is a very dark and brutal game. I mean that in more ways than one. The theme of the game is dark, where you try and survive in a forbidding landscape, attacked by spiders that are much larger than you and surviving against other boys who try and kill you. And getting killed in this game is brutally visualized. Few games really make you feel the impact of something or someone dying, but geez, this game sure makes you feel every death. Spiders can put a leg through your chest, traps slice and dice and you can fall onto spikes in the ground. There were times when I thought it was a bit much. It’s surprising how effective the imagery was at getting an emotional reaction from me.

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 Final Thoughts

In the end, I had more fun that I thought I would with this game. The unique visuals sets this game apart and makes it memorable, helped in no small part by how brutally dark this game is. It only clocks in at about three to fours hours for a run through it. But I was satisfied with the length of the game given how cheap it is and how well designed it is. If your at all interested in an adventure in a strange world, give Limbo a look.

Thanks for reading!

-KingIsaacLinksr

2 Comments:

  1. Nice review Tim! I felt pretty much the same way but I think I enjoyed the game a bit more than you.

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