Limbo Game Review

Posted on July 21, 2010

Limbo. It opens with no explanation. No story.

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The art in this game is fantastic. And perhaps it is the feature of this game that makes it stand alone. No text, context sensitive cues, or in-game tutorials. It’s blurry, monotone, and as foreboding as it sounds. I love the art in this game. It reminds me a lot of whoever did the flash animations and album covers for Toronto indie-band, “The Birthday Massacre.” It’s great stuff and well worth trying the demo just to see for yourself.

However, I’m afraid I didn’t find much of a game. This is a work of art sure, but Limbo left a certain part of my brain alone in the corner of the room. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a few and most of my brain is sitting alone in the corner of the room. But I don’t think even sober I would be very impressed. The tutorial was basically a gauntlet that you cannot win without dying first. The game is a series of clever traps and beautiful expositions. I spent most of the time dying. I’d walk the little boy-shadow to the right until he was killed by another innocuous looking shadow, respawn, and try to figure out how to move past the deadly shadow… until I was killed by another one further along.

Although maybe that’s the real purpose of the game and my life suddenly feels shallow and empty.

It was a little disappointing. I must admit that I had been salivating to play this game since I saw the first early preview videos. I love games that try to be something more than the status quo for the medium. Unfortunately, I don’t think this game lived up to that expectation. The art is excellent in every regard, but the gameplay just isn’t there. I’d say that this “game” is more of an “interactive experience” like an installation piece or improvised theatre. Only that you have to suffer its repetitive nature until you reach the end. One can only hope that there is some sort of mind-altering revelation after it is all said and done because frankly after playing the demo I can hardly see how one could be possibly motivated to do so.