Review: LIMBO

Game: LIMBO
Recommended price: $5-$10
Metacritic Score: 89
Completion Time: 3 hours
Buy If You Like: Giving charity to promising indie game designers.

Most atmospheric game since ICO.

I really do want to get across the idea that LIMBO is an amazing game; it did not get that 89 Metacritic score by accident. Indeed, when you crack open the fictional Dictionary of Game Design and flip to the concept “Less is More,” a picture of LIMBO will be sitting on the page… right underneath a picture of ICO. In fact, I could almost describe LIMBO as a darker, shorter 2D ICO minus the princess. Or perhaps a revisioned Out of the This World minus the laser gun.

That being said, there is the very real possibility that this review will take longer to write than it takes to complete the $9.99 game itself.

LIMBO is short. The same details that immerse you so completely into the world – absence of UI, seamless transition from one area to the next, non-disruptive death penalties – are the same details that unexpectedly slap you in the face once you suddenly realize you are reading the credits. I bought LIMBO off Steam and finished it in the same sitting. Three hours. And lest you assume I am some sort of speed-run platforming genius, one of the LIMBO achievements is completing the entire game with less than five deaths in a single sitting.

Is LIMBO groundbreaking? As much as a 2D puzzle platformer can be, yes. Is LIMBO worth experiencing? An unqualified yes. Is LIMBO a perfect example of games as art? Yes. All that being said, if you buy LIMBO for $9.99 there is no other way I can imagine the transaction being different than charity towards Playdead, the designers. In fact, Playdead used the profit from LIMBO to buy themselves back from investors. If that means we can see a LIMBO 2 someday, then fantastic! But you will not see me suggesting that the average player buy a three-hour game for $9.99. An Apple gaming app for $1.99 on the other hand…

Every ounce of LIMBO is amazing, and a lot better than many other games on the market… but you simply cannot sustain yourself on a spoonful of caviar.

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Posted on September 18, 2011, in Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. LIMBO is a delicatesse – I didn’t mind it was so short. :) I actually believe that had it been much longer, its exquisiteness would have suffered. It is a beautiful gem, spooky, dark and enchanting and it invites more than just “puzzle-gamers” to give it a try. thanks to its appeal, it has managed to attract a wider audience outside the genre. there’s also no reason why you wouldn’t play through LIMBO several times, just for the experience.

    It certainly leaves you wanting for more – but that’s not such a bad thing now, is it. a brilliant teaser you could say (and I don’t recall paying an outrageous price). I hope we’ll see more artistry like this again in the future.

    I’ve written an article on “beautiful” videogames not too long ago where I also reviewed LIMBO and recommended few more picks (check my blog for “videogames are beautiful” if you like to have a look sometime). :)

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    • Yeah… I’m conflicted. Not about it being an amazing game, but my feelings afterwards. I almost feel like if I had stopped halfway through by going to bed earlier, I would have had a much better impression. As it stands, buying a game for $10 and then beating it without even leaving the chair once soured the experience a bit for me.

      The other problem is that LIMBO is a lot like Portal: once you have solved the puzzles, the atmosphere alone does not exactly cut it. Or perhaps I should say that the tension that came from the unknown WAS the atmosphere.

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