By Jaran Chance
LIMBO is a peculiar, critically acclaimed indie platformer turning six years old this July. It is also one of the more commonly found essentials in any indie gamer’s suggested plays.
As the first release from independent Danish game developers Playdead, LIMBO launched on Xbox 360 as a timed exclusive in July 2010. Since then it has received many awards and perfect scores on multiple respected news outlets.
Almost every aspect of LIMBO is left entirely ambiguous; there are no named characters, no clear plot, speech or text. The open-ended story and grainy black and white art style are what truly set this game apart, not much else about the game is innovative. The gameplay is very standard side-scrolling puzzle solving, seemingly drawing inspiration from classics such as Oddworld and Lemmings.
Players control a young boy on his quest to find his younger sister, solving many a puzzle and overcoming impossible odds along the way.
The adventure takes the young boy through very random and inconsistent settings and all the while the boy continue to run to the right of the screen even with unspeakable horrors and guaranteed danger lying ahead. The boy encounters a hill tribe chucking spears at him and a gigantic spider attempting to eat him and what does he do? Run to the right, directly through the spider’s den and the hill tribe’s base of operations. There has got to be a better path to finding your younger sister lil’ man.
Throughout the game the boy can and will die in every way imaginable. The puzzles are created to be unsolvable without dying once or twice. However, all the puzzles in the game are very well thought out and never obnoxiously hard to solve.
The gameplay mechanics are definitely not for everyone and sadly it can’t really be said that the end is worth suffering through for. The ambiguity of the game’s story is often a topic of discussion. Some argue that the game’s title and ambiguity are meant to be a commentary on death in some fashion, while others argue that Playdead had no idea where they wanted to take the game’s story. Truthfully there is no need for a story to be this vague to form a commentary on death or anything. The gameplay and puzzles are very fun and enjoyable, but there is no solid takeaway from time spent with LIMBO. Playdead’s next game Inside, releasing July, will likely build upon everything learned from LIMBO.
Overall LIMBO is a game worth experiencing. With a very quick playtime and intriguing art style, players will definitely find moments to enjoy.