LIMBO Review (PS3): On The Edge Of Darkness Lies A Beacon Of Light

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For those of you who live in Xbox land, you’ve been able to take on the darkness and confusion that lies in LIMBO for almost a year now, while the rest of us in the PC (Steam) and PS3 universes have been left in a state of personal limbo ourselves awaiting its release.  The time of inconsistent confusion is now over and as of July 19, 2011 PS3 users have had access to the dark, twisted puzzle platformer that is LIMBO.  (PC players that use Steam will have to hold out until the debt ceiling collapses on August 2, 2011 to get their crack at solving the mysteries that lie in wait within the LIMBO universe.)  That being said, with months of anticipation and little background information provided on just what the LIMBO plot truly entails we now can take a dive into this 2D colorless world ourselves.

Definition of LIMBO
1 : a place or state of restraint or confinement
2: a place or state of neglect or oblivion (e.g., “proposals kept in limbo”)
3 : an intermediate or transitional place or stated : a state of uncertainty

As the game opens up, players will find their character slowly awakening in a forest of little light, no direction, and no explanations.  LIMBO throws players head first into this universe with little more than music, black and white shadows of environmentals, and absolutely no dialogue to set you on your twisted, happy way.  Quickly players will find that the environment is very flat, yet contains object interactions that are fairly easy to control and/or manipulate as you work your way through puzzles of varying difficulty.  As players continue on their way through a strangely lit and incredibly dangerous world, with no verbal or written communication to help guide you, it becomes fairly clear that the world you now occupy is not one that wishes you well.  (Bear traps, spike laden pits, flaming tires, dead bodies, and of course spiders…) Constantly faced with objectives to overcome and puzzles to solve, players will notice that your challenges provide for an upward learning curve as one delves deeper and deeper into LIMBO.  Over time players will work their way out of the forest of despair that attempted to take your life at every turn and into a non-descript abandoned industrial area that only continues to force the learning curve upwards until the game finds its way to its conclusion.  (It will also leave you actually wishing for your angry human aggressors back, as human interaction drops to nothing as you near completion of all 24 chapters.)

… embrace the darkness…
LIMBO does an outstanding job of placing the player into a universe that provides players very little background on, or why you are even there to begin with, but then nudges you forward and rewards anyone with an exploratory spirit while not letting down those who are focused on solving the many puzzles provided.  At first learning what objects can do you harm, are useful, or can be interacted with takes a little getting used to but  LIMBO does provide the player with subtle clues on what items may be needed down the road to solve another part of the puzzle.  (For instance, items may have handles on them.  This typically means it can be moved by the player) However, other instances provide you a wall to stare at and contemplating the meaning of life while time ticks by mocking your inability to solve an otherwise simple task.  (The joy of a puzzle platformer, perfected by the fact that this game provides you nothing in the form of “push here to not die” type fame of other similar titles.)

With a complicated story that is only pieced together by those who have taken far too many psychology courses, and just for fun no less, LIMBO also provides players with an amazing environmental experience for a 2D game.  An amazing feature of this otherwise bland 2D environment is that the darkness of the game is transmitted clearly to players through music, sound effects, and interactions with puzzles/objects/creatures (I say creatures here for a reason, if you don’t like spiders..just know you’ll be forced to deal with that phobia..a LIMBO…)  The visual experience here is like no other and truly helps drive a player’s mind deeper into the world of LIMBO and offers a very dark image on the human condition.  (Deep stuff here lie..)  However, not to be overlooked in this experience is the use of physics.  A player’s interaction with puzzles, objects, and the environment are flawless and provide for a purely enjoyable experience.

Bottom line here is that if you truly enjoy puzzle games, platformers, or especially enjoy an experience where both are slammed together in a rather creepy, dark experience LIMBO is definitely worth your time and hard-earned cash.  The physics are amazing and when coupled with the black and white environment and sound score that will chill you at times as you make your way through this confusing world, LIMBO draws you in much more than you would think.  Granted at times, you will run around trying to figure out what to do next and what you are over looking. (..anyone remember Myst? get that feeling every now and then..”what the hell are you asking me to do game?!”..then the less than obvious smacks you square in the face..) LIMBO provides for an overall outstanding experience for the puzzle platform lover, I know that I enjoyed every disturbing moment, and it should be an immediate add to your PS3 and/or PC collection making LIMBO a solid 9.25 out of 10.

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Christopher Poirier
I started gaming when it was nothing more than green screens and clunky keyboards. Today, I play everything and anything that provides for a gaming experience. Good, bad, indifferent, and some times even ugly. I'm here to tell you whats up.