Review: LIMBO

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 13 and up
Genre: Platform Puzzler / Horror
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2011
Review Published On: August 7th, 2016
Played on: Martha & Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Your progress is saved automatically and rather frequently -- usually at the start of the next puzzle. Thus, you can probably quit at any time without losing any progress you've made.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Although the game's graphics only show shadows, deaths are common and often very graphically depicted.


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Enjoy the nightmares

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Crossing the infamous HOTEL sign

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Infected with a brainworm

Game Overview

LIMBO is one of those creepy games that needs to be experienced rather than read about. The premise is extremely simple: worried about his sister's fate, a boy enters Limbo in an attempt to find her. Now, Limbo is a place in many religions and some flavors of Christianity, but none of them come close to describing the setting of this game.

Everything here is part of one giant death trap. Gigantic spiders, feral children, exposed machinery, unguarded electrical lines and even some sort of brain parasite are just a few of the hazards found in this dark location. Navigating them all requires a lot of patience, trial and error, and some form of immortality. It doesn't really matter how skilled you are, you're going to die and die horribly during this journey.

Yet, for all of the failures and graphic endings, it's still satisfying to find the solutions and move on to the next area. While younger children should avoid this game, it's going to be a memorable trip for the older gamers. At the very least, it left an impression on the gaming community and deserves a try for doing so.

Points of Interest

Tough puzzles
It's surprising how many complicated puzzles can be created out of a strange environment and a little creativity. Nearly everything used by each puzzle is provided from the world around you. Aside from making it easier to tell which elements go together, it also works around your very limited controls. All you can do is walk, jump or perform a context-sensitive action, yet everything you do feels intuitive and fluid.
The world is alive
You'd think that reducing the graphics to muted shadows would make the world seem dull and uninteresting, but LIMBO manages to really bring it to life by doing this. Everything you'll find in this game is animated smoothly enough to look like it's really alive. This also has the effect of making the spiders that much more terrifying.
Steam achievements
While many, if not most, games these days have achievements, this time they are earned by being clever or by searching out hidden secrets. There's even an entire secret level that you can find. Achievements like these are the kind worth earning.
Infinite lives
You're going to need them. Boy howdy, are you going to need them. Complimenting them is a checkpoint system that allows you to try a puzzle over and over again without having to backtrack over large areas.
Sometimes things are too tough
Some of the puzzles require you to do things that you've never had to consider before, and I'd expect many players will need to consult a walkthrough at least once on their adventure. It doesn't help that several puzzles require very precise timing, and that can be hard to manage with the way your character runs around.
Cliffhanger ending
Nobody really knows what's happening, why it happens, or what the ending means. An educated guess would be that the boy reunites with his sister, but whether that means they'll move on to a happy ever after or be stuck in Limbo for eternity is completely up for debate.

Concerns and Issues

Graphic deaths
This game can be surprisingly graphic when it comes to violence and death. Despite depicting everything as a silhouette, it's quite easy to tell when bones are broken, characters are impaled or even torn apart. In fact, many of the ways you can die send your innards flopping about as parts of you are scattered around.

Also, although you don't usually see the blood that results from your own demise, other creatures spurt brilliantly colored liquid when they are harmed or die.
Dead children
Since this game takes place in Limbo, one of many places people are said to go after death, it's not really that unexpected to learn that there will be dead people around. The twist however is that most of these people are children, and if they aren't already dead or dying, they'll be trying to kill you. Some of these dead children have been hanged, while others had drowned. There are even a few you need to trick into being killed by the nearby traps.
Hostile wildlife
Limbo is not a nice place. The biggest example is the incredibly huge spider that stalks and tries to either impale or eat you, but there's also the brainworms, which are really creepy. Basically, they are small worms that fall from the ceiling, burrow into the victim's skull and then force their prey to walk forward, often into danger. You get rid of them by moving close to some creatures that resemble hanging teeth; they'll lunge down, grab the worm, pull it out of your head and eat it. Charming place.