Limbo, from the Latin word limbus, means edge or boundary (often in reference to Hell). Limbo, when used in colloquial speech, refers to a person or task that has been stopped until a specific deed is accomplished. Aptly named, Play Dead’s latest Xbox Live Arcade game Limbo is the most stylistic, gruesome, nerve racking, and frightfully-fun puzzle based platformer that this video gamer has played to date.
One of the most interesting things about Limbo is that unlike other videogames, there is no background story given. You control an unnamed boy who has awoken in a dark and mysterious forest searching for the fate of his sister. As you try to find your way to safety, creatures, people, and a dangerous environments constantly try to kill you. Speaking of death, this video gamer has never seen so many disturbingly funny ways to perish.
Limbo is not for those who don’t have a sense of humor. Deaths can range from decapitations, impalements, falling, and plenty more. It can be quite fun to discover new ways to die while trying to solve each puzzle. Yet another great thing about Limbo is that after dying you start right back where you were and do not have to start from the beginning of the level again. While there may be a quick load time between deaths, it is important to note that there are no load screens during actual play.
The puzzles in Limbo start simple and quickly evolve into complex challenges. Several of the puzzles require back tracking for an object or to activate switches. To say that the puzzles presented in Limbo are complex can be an understatement. While many goals might be apparent for some, the same obstacles may take as long as half an hour or more to figure out. Figuring out how to survive many of Limbo‘s deadly obstacles provides a real sense of reward.
The controls in Limbo are devilishly simple. There are only two actions: jump and activate. Yet despite Limbo’s easy controls, navigating through some of Limbo‘s more advanced challenges require a mastery of accurate button pressing.
The graphics and sound in Limbo are outstanding. Presented in black and white, Limbo‘s beautiful backgrounds are very easy on the eye. The edges of the screen are rounded and lend a very nostalgic vintage feel to the game. Throughout the vast majority of the game, the only sounds you will hear are that of the environment you are surrounded by. It’s this simplicity that makes Limbo have such an appealing look.
Limbo for Xbox 360 LIVE Arcade is surprisingly short. The ending of the game, while cinematically pleasing, leaves something to be desired. The abrupt ending without any sort of climax or warning makes Limbo feel as though it was finished in a rush.
The first run through of Limbo can take between three to six hours depending on how astute a player is at solving Limbo‘s diverse and challenging puzzles. Once you know how to pass each of the obstacles, the game can be replayed in a little over an hour. The real challenge lies in beating it without meeting a horrific death.
Obtaining Limbo‘s achievements and showing off the game to friends then become the main reasons to replay this amazing little game. The online leaderboards leave much to be desired, as currently they only display ranking by percent completed. Additional stats such as quickest play with the least amount of deaths would have been a lot more interesting and would have certainly given Limbo more replay value for those who enjoy competing with others on their friends list.
Although Limbo for Xbox 360 LIVE Arcade may be a short, unlike most full priced retail games Limbo delivers a high quality experience without any dull moments. At 1200 Microsoft Points ($15), Limbo is delightfully challenging and is must own game for every Xbox 360 owner.
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