The story is simple, in that there isn’t one – and that’s okay.
You wake up in a world where you are naught but shadow in darkness without any explanation or reason. This world is Limbo; a place where many things can go wrong and the only way out is through the maze of traps and darkness.
Ways to die in this world are plentiful; from pits of spikes, to drowning (you can’t swim) or even monsters – there are so many ways you won’t make it out alive that it becomes too many to list. That’s what draws you in though, as Limbo takes a unique approach to gameplay – it doesn’t repeat itself in setting or puzzle, ever. Everything you do in Limbo will be in a brand new way and in a new area. This includes how the game deals with deaths/checkpoints, as dying won’t kick you back much further than the patch of ground right before whatever killed you. This game isn’t about punishing your mistakes; it’s about rewarding your success.
That isn’t to say that Limbo is an easy game though, as I found myself in a few areas that caused me to put the game on hold for a moment while I switched to a fighter where I could properly take out my frustrations. Some of the puzzles are surprisingly obvious but also incredibly hard to execute. In one of the areas with gears I bet I fell about a hundred times before I got the timing right, so simple and rewarding doesn’t mean easy.
The controls are simple; you can move with the analog or d-pad, jump with X and grab with O. This game isn’t anything fancy in the controls department and because of that it’s the one thing not likely to be the cause of your death in-game. This game is built on puzzle-solving, not on brute strength or superhuman ability. This is a game of logic; and the only skills you need are of the mind.
Graphically, this game is beautiful. It reminds me of many ‘worlds between worlds’ I’ve read about in books. Limbo depicts a two-dimensional world mostly devoid of light, where shadow illuminates graceful movement and sudden death alike. Your character is but a hollow representation of a boy, with only the eyes alight to give him any sign of life, outside movement. Physics are a big deal here, giving you the realistic movement necessary to draw you into this dreary atmosphere. The only thing more fitting than the artistic look of the game is the sound.
The sound in game is perfect; subtle for the most part, but strong when it needs to be. The wind blows the grass with a soft shuffle, and most deaths are but a muted break or squish – but on the other hand the rush of water is like a roar and the friction between box and ground can be like sandpaper on bark.
Limbo is a masterpiece of art and motion, but it does have a few small issues; the most prominent of which was the length of the game itself. This game was hard to pull myself away from, and even during time I was spending with loved ones I was sneaking a little gameplay here and there. To this end, I must say; it was disappointing when I got to the end. Not because the game was bad, but because I wanted more. To that end, I would welcome any (cheaply) priced DLC that this game was to get.
The only other issue I want to bring up is the price. For $15 (in North America) you get a game with limited replayability (other than trophies you missed the first time around) and a fairly short time to completion. At around four-hours for a regular play-through, this isn’t really suited for the price tag they’ve given it. It would likely sell much better at the price point Urban Trial started at ($10 in NA, £7.99/€9.99 in the EU), especially since it’s been out on other platforms for some time already. It’s worth noting that your money gets you both the PSVita and PS3 versions of the game (cross-buy) though with the lack of replayability that’s not much comfort to those eyeing that price.
All this considered though, the minor flaws are outweighed by the experience itself.