Limbo Review

Limbo LogoLimbo is a 2D side-scrolling puzzle-platformer that puts you in the role of a boy that enters the fabled space between Heaven and Hell in search of his sister. In order to discover her fate, you will have to traverse 24 chapters of increasingly fiendish and deadly environmental puzzles.

The development team at Playdead did a wonderful job at creating a very atmospheric, gruesome and genuinely creepy game world. Limbo is presented entirely in black and white and utilizes some great lighting, filter and depth of field effects. Your character is portrayed by a dark silhouette, with only the whites of his eyes to indicate whether he is living or dead. Read More…

In most cases though, you won’t have any trouble telling when your avatar has died. The world of Limbo is a dangerous one filled with traps; from basic spike-lined pits to saws, electrified floors and even laser-guided machine gun turrets. You will likely see the boy become impaled, burned and dismembered in all sorts of brutal ways as you make your way through the game.

Because of this gore and some stark, but thematically relevant imagery, I would not recommend Limbo to overly sensitive players. For many of those that can handle the imagery though, Limbo will probably be remembered as a grim, but very beautiful game.

During the three or four hour trip through Limbo, you will encounter a host of environmental puzzles that will help you to avoid the traps when solved. Stacking boxes, flipping switches and some quick platforming action are all common occurrences. There is a nice variety of objects to interact with like magnetic platforms, gravity switches and elevators. This helps create some interesting puzzles and keep the gameplay fresh throughout.

Puzzles are generally rooted in logic and a forgiving checkpoint system will start you in the right area with everything you need to do to advance within view should you fail a puzzle and die. Compared to other games in the genre like Braid and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, Limbo is on the easy side of things.

Although you probably won’t get stuck on any one puzzle for more than five or ten minutes, mastering a tougher puzzle’s timing or executing a precision platforming section can be quite satisfying and exhilarating. Limbo is a very linear game and from what I could tell, each puzzle has a solitary solution. Replay value is added through some very well-hidden collectables that are tied to Xbox LIVE achievements.

Limbo is a Dark and Atmospheric Game

You are assigned a rank on the leaderboards when you complete Limbo. This rank is determined by a completion percentage out of 112, but I could not figure out what exactly contributes to that percentage. We finished with 86% and found half of the collectables along the way.

Control is handled using only two face buttons; one to jumping and one for action. Movement is mapped to the left analog stick only with no option to use the d-pad, meaning most arcade-style sticks are a no-go.

The sound effects in the four distinct environments of Limbo are suitably creepy and ambient. There is no real music to speak of, but you will hear some industrial-style swells during the more intense sections of the game.

Gamers who are deaf or hard of hearing may have trouble towards the end of the game because Limbo uses a number of rather subtle audio cues to help you perform actions at the right time. It certainly wouldn’t be impossible without the audio cues, but it could prove to be frustrating.

My only real complaint has nothing to do with the relative brevity of Limbo or its temperate difficulty, but rather with how the game ends. After ramping up to a thrilling and intense crescendo, the game stops abruptly; almost like the developers weren’t sure how to wrap it up and just arbitrarily placed a finish line.

That said, I felt that the journey through Limbo was well worth the price of admission and the game is an experience I won‘t soon forget. It has an atmosphere that really draws you in and because it is presented as a continuous experience with no breaks or load times, it encouraged Nathalie and myself to play through it in a single session over the course of an afternoon.


+ Excellent Visual Design
+ Puzzles Rooted in Logic, Not Frustrating
+ Forgiving Checkpoint System
+ Simple, Familiar and Intuitive Control


- Ends Abruptly
- A Little Easy, Not Much Replay Value

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Game Forward Score: 4/5

Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward


Limbo (Xbox LIVE Arcade) Quick Facts:

Genre: Puzzle / Platformer
Developer: Playdead
Publisher: Xbox LIVE Arcade
Release Date: July 21, 2010
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15 USD)
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)