LIMBO‘s appeal is not to draw gamers in with fancy graphics, classy voice acting, or even a complex storyline. LIMBO strengths lie in its atmosphere and simplicity.
LIMBO‘s colour palette matches its mood. Silhouettes and shades of grey belie a hint of the character’s surroundings – the spindly legs of a giant spider, the barest hint of a pit of spikes, the outline of a child hanging from a rope. The shadows and lack of visibility serve as the game’s natural hazards – traps and ambushes are not apparent until the very last minute, such as when you slide down a hill only to land in a pit of water obscured by black shadows.
It’s also surprisingly violent. For a no man’s land between the land of the living and the realm of the dead, there’s a lot of maiming and impaling going on. Traps can skewer and decapitate, and enemies can impale and toss corpses aside. Limbs are torn off. One insect in particular can latch onto your character’s head and act as a parasite, controlling your body to move in one direction or the other.
The game’s simplicity is reflected in its controls: left, right, jump, and interact. There is none of Braid‘s time-warping elements, nor any of Shadow Complex‘s gunplay or ability juggling. Your only weapons are your ability to solve puzzles and turn traps against those that wish to see you dead. In a sense, it underscores the vulnerability of your character – he is a little boy that wakes up in a world inhabited by sadistic children and killer insects. He isn’t fortunate enough to have any special powers or weapons that he can use. He can’t even swim. He’s simply avoiding death as best he can.
Perhaps that is one of the game’s shortcomings – the game’s simplicity limits the game to pure puzzle solving, all set in a macabre setting. At full RRP, it strains to sustain its appeal. Obscuring hazards in the game world feels overused and acts only as an uninspired means to add an edge to puzzles or to frustrate players thereby breaking up the monotony of puzzle-solving. Death doesn’t bring any lasting negative effects; respawns are close to the point of death and it turns into an exercise where the player must memorise the details of the current hazard, rather than learn from the experiences and applying the knowledge to future traps. Demon’s Souls this is not.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the game is full of character and atmosphere, and that it is a tightly executed piece of work. A good purchase for gamers looking for something minimalistic and moody.