Jul 22, 2011

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Limbo Review

Limbo Review

Released over a year ago on Xbox Live, Limbo has finally made its way onto the PlayStation Network.  Developed by PlayDead, Limbo delivers quite a bit in a very small package. Limbo is one game you will not mind being stuck in.

Limbo is unique in a lot of different ways.  The entire game is in black and white, and this is one aspect you will constantly notice but never be thrown off by.  The creators drew on film noir as inspiration and it is easily recognizable.  Most of the game is displayed under a grainy film and only during a couple of instances illustrate moments of pure white.

The game is created under the idea of constant motion and every level is connected without breaking.  Like great action sequences in movies, there are no points within the game where it breaks away.  The title is about 100 megabytes, small enough for it to never pause for loading purposes during gameplay.  Limbo‘s flow could almost be described as groundbreaking.  The artistic style, including colors, level design and character models make for a pure experience for the eyes.

While the visual display is it’s strongest suit, it is not the games only highlight.  The musical score is well crafted and blends into the game as if it were not created in a sound booth but by the game’s environment.  It never tries to do more than it should, and is at some points almost completely absent. Generally, the only sounds found in the game are those created from movement within the environment and it helps set the mood with unbelievable effectiveness.

The animations found within the game are smooth but the controls are a little loose.  The controls are extremely basic, and a player is only able to jump, grab, flip switches, walk and run. With only a handful of commands, this game will render half of the buttons on your controller useless.  Should this game ever make its way onto a portable system, it will be able to translate nicely.  Since Limbo is a 2D puzzle platformer, the simple controls make sense. You’ll spend the majority of the game pulling levels, climbing ropes or jumping onto platforms as you solve the various puzzles throughout the game. Limbo‘s puzzles can take a second to figure out, but players should not find them terribly difficult yet still very satisfying.

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Limbo‘s story is a highly debated topic across forums from gamers who have completed the hour long quest.  Officially, the game focuses on a nameless boy who is on the brink of hell.  How he got there is never made clear.  He travels through a forest on a quest to find his sister encountering only a handful of other people and creatures along the way.

Limbo is a dark game and if at any point, your character dies, you will find out just how dark the game can be.  The minds at PlayDead have created death sequences not for the faint of heart.  Often times, players might even begin to feel bad for the little boy.  There are a variety of ways to die, the least horrific being falling to your death.  Otherwise, you could witness the last breaths of your character leave his body as he drowns or watch his entire body be impaled on one of the many spikes throughout the game.  Also spread throughout the game are what appear to be rotting corpses, although there is no sign beside them indicating that they are corpses.  Perhaps the worst death in the game is one I will avoid detailing, but it too, is unbelievably morbid and worth playing the game to see.

The greatest downfall of this game is how long it is.  I understand why they did it, but it is still extremely short.  Watching a movie at a theater will cost you around $12 and be around two hours long.  At the time of this review, Limbo will cost you at least $12, and you could play through the game twice within a two hour time frame.  Replaying the same puzzles could get old after two or three times, so the only real replay value comes from carefully studying the game’s ambient features because this game has been meticulously detailed from top to bottom.

PlayDead has created a piece of art and used a video game as its canvas.  Their goal was simple, to illicit an emotional response from the player, and Limbo does just that.  Considering my visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art a few days ago, playing this game was extremely appropriate.  While this game is not long by any stretch of the imagination, it is refreshing for a game like Limbo to finally find its way onto the PlayStation Network.  This is a title everyone not of the faint of heart should play.  Creativity of this magnitude should be rewarded and the best way to do that is to buy it on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.  PlayDead knocked this title out of the park.

Platform: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Release Date: 07/19/11
Developer: PlayDead
Publisher: PlayDead
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
MSRP: $15, $12(PlayStation Plus)