LIMBO: The Only Eerie Side-Scroller You Need
By Erin Walker
Released in July of 2010 exclusively on Xbox live, and then in April 2011 for PlayStation Network and Windows via Steam, LIMBO has built up quite a fan-base for a game that is so deceptively simple. The first thoughts I had after launching the game was “Oh… wow… this looks… easy.” Well, this game is living proof of Mom’s advice about a lot of people and things you see through your life. Never judge a book by its cover.
A combination of classic side-scroller/platformer, puzzle, and altogether creepy, LIMBO throws the player into a dark and uncaring world that is deceptively simple. There is no tutorial, no hand-holding. To figure out your controls (which are, thankfully, very simple) you have to actively go to the controls screen and look them up. From there, the game proceeds to give you a fond pat on the head and wish you luck as it kicks you out the door.
Trial by Fire
You play as a nameless little boy who wakes up in a very dark and creepy forest, searching for… Well, it is never made clear if she is your sister or your girlfriend or just the neighbor kid that you played hopscotch with once… Either way, you are searching for her in a monochromatic world where everything is out to kill you. The entire game is played in a ‘trial and error’ fashion, where your errors result in a sudden and painful looking death. Bear traps on the ground or suspended from ropes, electricity, deep water, and spikes are just a few of the danger that you must outwit in this dark and oppressive world. Even the people (the very few that you see) are usually dead or run away, the ones that stick around are trying to kill you.
The settings are a pretty creepy actually, the sheer loneliness and helplessness of our hero (who manages to drown in less than two inches of water) as he wanders through this place is oppressive. In both the forest and the crumbling city setting, there are objects in the back and foreground that can and will obstruct your vision until you get to a certain place, or will confuse you into thinking that they are something you can use… Always fun to think you can jump onto a bit of rail and then falling to your doom for the hundredth time and wondering how many more times you will fall for the same trick.
A well deserved Headache!
The puzzles in LIMBO are fiendishly difficult, even in the beginning. More than a few times I had to get up and walk away, cursing, to do something while my brain rested and mulled over a particularly difficult one. The first few are much simpler, but if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings, you will find yourself wondering how the hell you are supposed to get across the death pond using just a little wooden box. (I speak from experience on this particular irritating fact. I spent a good half hour on this because I forgot about a bit of hanging rope. Learn from my fail.)
The only real complaint about the game that I can honestly put forth (other than my rage at some of the puzzles, which is actually points in its favor in my book) is the abruptness of the ending of the game, and the lack of closure. I won’t go into details, but it left me feeling very…. Dissatisfied. Kind of like when you eat a wonderful Chinese dinner and are absolutely stuffed, but you are starving again an hour later. I worked hard for the end of the game, so where the hell is it?
When it’s all said and done..
So, on the whole, I am going to name LIMBO on the certainly Validated list. Eerie and simple settings, simple controls, and a difficulty curve on puzzles that will send your head to Mars on a jet of anger-generated steam are something I will always approve of. Totally worth every penny that I spent on it.