Limbo

Said the spider to the fly

Limbo is a bleak and lonely place; a grainy grey film reel of mistakes and terrible consequences. If this is only limbo, I am officially afraid of hell.

The game is unobtrusive to the point of slyness. I watched the opening forest scene for quite a while before realizing that nothing was going to happen until I made the boy stand up. There would be no narrated introduction, no context whatsoever. The boy was sleeping, I woke him up, and together we now faced a long, hard road through some horrible traps and unfortunate accidents. I felt somewhat responsible for his plight from the very start.

There are few things the player needs to know about silhouette boy. He is simple. He runs and jumps and pushes boxes so he can jump to new places. He is frustratingly complacent about drowning if he falls into a lake.

Actually, silhouette boy takes all of his deaths well. When he gets impaled by spikes, or bonked on the head by a falling log, or ground into hamburger by gigantic gears, he doesn’t make a sound. No screaming or crying or swearing, just steadfast resolve as he follows the player’s stupid plan to his inevitable fate. He fails in some amusing and grotesque fashion, and then he lives once again. No ‘You Suck’ fanfare graphic. No loading screen. No real penalty for death.

You die and it looks cool, or you succeed and feel like a badass, which is an excellent dichotomy of possible outcomes.

The game mechanics are simple and predictable enough that they fade into the background, allowing the strange environments to take center stage. The settings seem to follow some wonky evolutionary path, subtly shifting from primordial forest to Charles Dickens Presents a Steampunk Nightmare to sci-fi lasers and gravity wells.

Along the way, the sensation of loneliness is pervasive to the point where you are happy to run into other silhouette people just so you know that others exist in this place. And then they kill themselves or try to murder the boy with grim determination. Nobody talks to you, ever, and it’s eerie. All of the narrative is wrapped up in the sheer thrill of survival: the close calls, the narrow shaves, scuffling with the predatory spider who refuses to give up.

Limbo consists of puzzle after puzzle and the puzzles are largely minimalist. Here’s a box, there’s a lever, over there is a platform, and somehow these things must fit together so the boy can move on. Because every interactive object is so stark and visible, it’s difficult to miss a solution because of simple oversight. Hidden orbs of light represent the game’s only aside and they are never far away.

Limbo will probably be compared often to Braid, another puzzle-platformer with distinctive art direction and a modern twist on familiar run-and-jump mechanics. But where Braid is verbose in its storytelling, Limbo stays silent. Braid examines time, while Limbo is a study of light and shadow and the shades between.

And, most prominently, Braid is about fleeing from death through convoluted means while Limbo embraces a thousand gory endings. This is what makes Limbo the more re-playable game. It is a stylishly visceral death simulator, a fun and painless exploration of the many hilarious and disturbing ways in which a silhouette boy can fail.

Time to completion: 4-6 hours

Good value? Worthwhile for 1200 Microsoft points, and a steal for anything less.

Approximate # of brutal deaths for silhouette boy: 100

Comments

Have you had Steam verify the game's files? That would be my first step.

He's sent in a report or whatever you do to contact Steam, he got one auto-reply, but nothing since. It's been about a week now. I'm going to have him check his spam folder. Thanks guys!

Picked this up on the steam sale and almost done with it. One more play session should do it. Then I can click all those spoiler tags to see what people think of it after completion. So far, the only puzzle that stumped me to frustration was the

(description of puzzle)

Spoiler:

fly puzzle

where you have to

(solution/discussion of puzzle)

Spoiler:

slowly creep up to him and then jump on him. I thought for sure that you had to scare him so he would fly up and knock down that ladder! It never occurred to me that you could grab him and he would fly you up there.

cheesycrouton wrote:

Picked this up on the steam sale and almost done with it. One more play session should do it. Then I can click all those spoiler tags to see what people think of it after completion. So far, the only puzzle that stumped me to frustration was the

(description of puzzle)

Spoiler:

fly puzzle

where you have to

(solution/discussion of puzzle)

Spoiler:

slowly creep up to him and then jump on him. I thought for sure that you had to scare him so he would fly up and knock down that ladder! It never occurred to me that you could grab him and he would fly you up there.

Spoiler:

That one took me forever too! I tried to creep up on him and tried to somehow time a jump on him to wherever I thought he would fly to. IIRC, my problem was that I wasn't creeping slowly enough.

Just finished it:

Spoiler:

I agree about the car accident not drowning.The last scene, it really resembles glass and not water. Also, he strikes the ground so hard and bounces I think this is a representation of him going through the windshield and flying into the forest.

Next, at the end during the credits you see TWO groups of flies.

So, I think there was a horrible accident and both brother and sister died. The game is the boy's journey through limbo to find his sister in the afterlife. His sister was actually hanging out where they died in the forest. i don't think it was where one was buried because the tree house is so dilapidated

.

karmajay wrote:

Just finished it:

Spoiler:

I agree about the car accident not drowning.The last scene, it really resembles glass and not water. Also, he strikes the ground so hard and bounces I think this is a representation of him going through the windshield and flying into the forest.

Next, at the end during the credits you see TWO groups of flies.

So, I think there was a horrible accident and both brother and sister died. The game is the boy's journey through limbo to find his sister in the afterlife. His sister was actually hanging out where they died in the forest. i don't think it was where one was buried because the tree house is so dilapidated

.

Yup about all that.

I bought this game and Bastion for my roommate, and he still hasn't finished them. In fact, he got really pissed after playing Limbo and getting stuck at one point. I is sad.

Ravenlock wrote:
Trashie wrote:

Do not play if afraid of spiders.

Sigh.

Attention designers: I understand why spiders are such effective videogame enemies. I mean, it's really pretty obvious. But I want to play your otherwise great games, and I can't now. Spider temple in Darksiders, I'm looking at you here too.

Maybe someday.

Yikes. Why didn't I read this and remember?

Not sure when I even got this (which steam sale), but decided to move it to the top of the pile tonight since it's supposedly pretty short.

But holy crap, I might not be able to sleep now without huge spider nightmares.