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Limbo has been a silent game since its announcement. Though in the past months, it’s taken full charge. Winning plenty of Indie Game awards and being placed as the opener for this year’s Summer of Arcade. Limbo has been compared vigorously to last year’s Braid. This is a tough comparison for Limbo as some could argue Braid as the best Xbox Live Arcade game yet. I never thought that, I couldn’t decide what the best Xbox Live Arcade game was. Now, Limbo has arrived and made that choice much easier.
In Limbo, you play as a boy in a confusing, semi-vacant world. There’s really nothing more that I can explain about the story without spoiling it. This entire concept may seem a bit cheesy but it works very well in establishing a creepy feeling throughout start to finish. The feeling of knowing that after the puzzle you’re doing, you may uncover a bit of truth about what happened to this world is a strong incentive to keep burning through Limbo.
The look of Limbo is breath-taking. The actual style of it is fully black and white. But they keep the look from getting old by adding an incredible sense of depth to items in the background and at times tampering lightly with the black and white colors, making them brighter and darker which only makes them more beautiful. On top of that, the animation for your character and all his actions is top-of-the-line.
Though the controls are as simple as 3 buttons, it’s still one of the strong-suits of the game. There’s a certain feeling to the movement and jumps that just feels “right.” Enjoyment is only added by the near-silent panting of your character as he sprints through the quiet woods, occasionally killing a terrifying spider or leaping over deadly bear-traps that will slice your character in half. There’s a very strong, graphic nature to Limbo that I’ve never seen before. There may be no blood but seeing a child have a stick sling through his skull or fall off a ledge into a pit of spikes is as disturbing as it sounds and only intensifies the incredible feeling you get when playing Limbo. The atmosphere and terror spread throughout Limbo makes you care even more for your nameless boy that, by the end of the game, felt like one of the best characters I’ve ever experienced in a game.
The ending is magnificent. I of course will not go into any spoilers, but the feeling you get when it ends is a strong combination of slight confusion and extreme gratification. It never outright tells you what anything means, leaving you to sit and ponder on what in the world just happened. Even while writing this review, I think about the ending and discover new thoughts about it that make me love it even more.
If I could think of one complaint about Limbo, it’s that there’s one puzzle that doesn’t rely purely on your brain but more on luck. You slide down a hill and have to jump from it to something. That something isn’t explained very well and I managed to get past the part by purely getting lucky. Apart from that, every puzzle in Limbo is done by sheer skill and brain power. It has a feel that other puzzle games such as Braid do not, the feeling that the difficulty is just right. In Braid, the puzzles became insane, annoying, and almost impossible to figure out by yourself. Limbo balances that line beautifully, delivering a nice challenge but leaving you with a deep sense of accomplishment.
It’s games like Limbo that make certain great sixty dollar games look like pieces of trash. I would happily pay 60 dollars for this in a heartbeat. It may only last you eight hours, but those eight hours are the most intense and downright fun eight hours you may ever spend in a video game.