Story Mode Complete: Limbo

Kristina Pino2 Comments

Before I knew it, I was hooked. And just like that, it was over. Short as it was, Limbo is definitely some of the most intense video game playing I've ever experienced. The story begins with a boy waking up in the woods (we don't know why), and ends just as vaguely, though signs point to "he is looking for someone," if you're like me and just jumped into the game without reading a summary. There is no dialogue. There is no spooky music in the background. There is nothing but bleakness and alienation driving you from stage to stage.

Read on below the cut for my full thoughts.

I wasn't sure what expect when I loaded the game. After the title came and went, all I saw was a monochromatic scene with some ambient woodsy sounds, and nothingness. I hit the arrow key and two little eyes appear, and a little boy gets up from the ground. After running to the right for a little bit, I expected more - some credits, a narrator, anything. I got nothing. The boy just keeps going, on and on, until you reach the credits. (I later found out he's looking for his sister.)

There is something beautiful yet terrifying about the brutality herein. Limbo will kill you over and over again, without being gory. It's intense because death can come swiftly at any time. It isn't frustrating, though. Instead of making you start over from the beginning of a level, the check points are conveniently placed right in between challenges so you just keep going from where you stumbled as long as you've done everything else right before you got to it. So, instead of focusing on the death, or any sort of gore, it's more of a psychological blow to sometimes hilarious effect. And because of the frequency of goofy deaths, the parts of the game when the main character is simply running along made me even more paranoid.

There isn't any color throughout the game, just the monochromatic, vague artwork in the background and silhouetted creatures. It brings down the tone of the game a bit to have sad grays and such on your screen the entire time. I don't mean that in a bad way, I just think it adds to the sense of desolation.

Throughout the game you meet some human-looking shapes, but you'll find no allies among them. I don't think I've ever felt so alienated (not myself, but you know, as the main character of the game) as I have in this game where huge spiders and all kinds of traps and obstacles are already against me, and thinking humans might band together only to find they're setting even more traps for me. The game just seems like a really bad dream.

Considering I've heard that there's a theory bouncing around that the main character is somewhere "in between" because he kills himself to follow said lost sister, the title Limbo may be on target. There is a lot of "death" imagery throughout the story like dead boys hanging from trees or eaten by leech monsters as well. Of course, I don't really need the answer to the title or the full story to appreciate what's going on. I love the fact that Limbo only needed simple visuals to give me (the player) an amazing experience.

The puzzles themselves start off pretty easy and eventually work themselves into a tough groove, but they aren't so tough that you'll want to toss your keyboard or controller out the window and never play games again. I admittedly got stuck a couple times, but then again, I still played the entire game in one sitting. It took me about three hours.

The last aspect is the background sounds. It's more of this ambient noise kind of deal, as there's hardly any music. There are some intense moments that sound is utilized to raise the tension to fabulous effect, and now that I've played the game I need to listen to the soundtrack to hear just what it is they even put in there.

And with that, I'll wrap up my review. If you haven't had the pleasure of playing Limbo, I suggest you pick it up! I wouldn't say this falls into the horror category, but I expect most players to feel tense while running through Limbo. You could now also purchase a special edition hard copy that comes with lots of goodies, which I'll be linking you to at the bottom of this post. Before that, though, check out the trailer: