Review — Limbo (260)

I sort of accidentally played through all of Limbo the other day. It wasn’t an accident that I played it, but that I spent all of multiple hours actually going through the whole game in one sitting. I had never seen any part of the game to a substantial degree, and had only screen screenshots like the one provided.

All that being said, I played it in an unusual setting (especially regarding the fact that I usually play things for the first time alone at my computer in the morning): That is to say I played it before dinner with a lot of family watching and, Limbo being a puzzle game, playing vicariously with me. So I didn’t get to immerse myself as much as I would have liked, but it was still a lot of fun.

I expected this game to be dark and a little too creepy for some audiences, but it really wasn’t. There’s a giant spider early on, and sort of midway through you see people that are hanged, but that’s about it. You only ever see silhouettes, so nothing is ever that graphic. Since it’s also a story driven, indie puzzle game, it’s also very simple. It’s a side scroller and the only buttons you have (apart from movement) are jump and ‘interact’, meaning grab this or press that button.

There’s a reason this game got so big. It’s very well done. Obviously it makes very good use of lighting (since everything is all silhouettes), but it also uses the environment effectively to tell you where you are, what you should be doing, and what’s going on. There’s no dialogue, and the soundtrack is very minimalist: all open tones and sort of creepy sounds that I would hesitate to even refer to as ‘music’. It’s mostly just great ambiance.

So, the environment I played the game in didn’t allow me to pick up on any story. I openly admit I have virtually no idea what was going on, and the few things I did catch I won’t mention because spoilers. It’s a very short game. Go play or watch it yourself! It’s certainly an experience. It’s surprisingly not scary. There are some parts that get you a little anxious (like when you’re running away from the giant spider) but death has no consequence. It just takes you back to where you died and you gotta do it again, but better.

I watched a playthrough of the game ‘Inside’ a few months ago. It’s very similar, atmospherically if not visually. It’s a side scroller puzzle game, and it’s the same thing, really, only it looks different and the ending ‘goes to the other end of the spectrum’, so to speak than the one in Limbo. Because of that, I’d recommend Limbo more. It has a very neutral ending that is sort of up to your interpretation, and even if you didn’t understand what was going on in the story, you can be satisfied with how the game finishes.

It’s a great game with simple puzzles that can stump you for a good few minutes in some parts, but it’s never too complicated.


3 thoughts on “Review — Limbo (260)

  1. “computer int he morning”

    “and It’s the same thing, really”

    Ha! Got TWO on you this time.

    Glad you were able to get through the whole thing. I get to check this one off my never-shrinking list of games I’d like to play.

    One thing I hadn’t considered before just now. This style of game – the vaguely platformer, vaguely puzzle game – seems to be something of it’s own little genre, but is also a very watered down version of some other, mostly older, game types. Things like Point ‘n Click adventures crank up the puzzling bits. Lots of platformers turn that aspect up to 11 with very little thought on puzzles.

    It reminds me mostly of an old Sega Genesis game (and other platforms, but that’s the one I had) called Flashback. It was a 2d platformer game with lots of puzzles – but it also had a fair share of action thrown in for good measure. I remember this was also one of the very few games I actually did speed runs of, and was so proud of myself for figuring out how to do puzzles and combat quickly, while remembering how it would previously take me MANY attempts to figure out how to handle that same situation my first time playing.

    It’s also a pretty telling as to how the videogame industry has evolved over the years. You can’t make a AAA game like this. It feels like this type of game is specific to indie developers and small studios. Flashback had a remake a few years back, and it looked like the developer tried to modernize the game. How’d they do that? By giving you a weapon right away and making combat a huge deal immediately. Modern = action! Excitement! Gogogo things happening wheee fun!!!

    It was awful. But! They also included the full original game with the remake! Except it had literally no sound…?

    While I definitely prefer a game I can invest time into and receive something comparable back, I definitely do appreciate smaller indie games to give a small slice of something. A very simple reminder of *this is a game, games are fun, now move on!”


    1. Being able to sit down and relax with something I’ll be done with that same day definitely has a charm many triple A games can’t achieve. I’ve never been that interested in any of the Fallout games because the idea of playing a story for dozens of dozens of hours doesn’t appeal to me these days. I just don’t have the time to play something that consistently, nor do I want to spend the time and effort trying to figure out what I was doing last week or how to play.


      1. That certainly is not why I enjoyed the first two Fallout games. Yes – the story that ties the theme and universe together is nice. Keeps things cohesive. But really, there is no story. Both games were a collection of short stories. Fallout 3+4 and the Elder Scrolls games are similar, but they differ in that they have plot lines and side stories.

        In the original games, you set out on your quest. I don’t even remember one of the original goals (they might have both been the same). But basically, one had you venturing out looking for the G.E.C.K. – I remember it as just being a water filter. One that would also help get a garden started.

        And that was it. “You need to find this so we live! Good luck, bye!” And that was that. I really don’t recall ever finding clues or tracing one down or anything. What I remember is FINDING A NEW PLACE GASP then talking to people. Sometimes, they had a problem, and BAM I could do something here! Whee I’m helping.

        If I remember right (which I’m sure I don’t) the “main story line” is basically me thinking “hey a military location they might have a G.E.C.K. there” then I go attack it. No plot pushing me anywhere, just me exploring the wasteland, finding sweet loot, and blowing my enemies to pieces with a Gauss Rifle and a Pancor Jackhammer (re: future automatic shotgun of I don’t have any insides left).

        And the secrets. Just driving around the wilderness (finding and fixing up the car was so epic – it had a trunk you could use for all your inventory needs! Best thing ever.) Tons of easter eggs just waiting to be found. The most important thing always became ammo and fuel so I could keep hunting for more ammo and fuel.

        Last night, I started playing one of the first games I downloaded for free on Xbox One – Massive Chalice. Its’ a tactical RPG (i.e. turn based fighting on SQUAREZ). Some of my all-time favorite games are tactical games. Vandal Hearts (THE ORIGINAL), Front Mission 3, Final Fantasy Tactics (though I admit I did not play it as much as I would have wanted).

        Writing all this makes me remember what was so unique about combat in Fallout. Yes, it was Tactical RPG combat. But in most Tactics games, that is literally IT. You have out-of-combat management, then you jump into a fight. Fallout never took you “out of the fight.” You were always in Tactics Mode(tm). It made flowing into and out of combat seamless. And also terrifying, since at any moment, while you’re walking into this dread-inducing cave, that little combat chime could sound at any moment, and you better hope you are in position to fight off WHERE DID THESE 5 DEATHCLAW COME FROM. Then you pick your head back up the ground, load your save, and walk in a bit safer – maybe plant a mine or two.


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