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Thia game must have been stuck in Limbo for a while.

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    Rating: 2.5 – Playable

    Thia game must have been stuck in Limbo for a while.

    Limbo is a little indie title by the Danish studio Playdead. It’s a black-and-white platformer game that has somehow managed to go unreviewed on the Xbox One despite a plethora of reviews for the Xbox 360.

    Limbo’s tagline has more story than the game itself. I’m not kidding here, because the tagline says "Uncertain of his sister’s fate, a boy enters Limbo." There is one cutscene at the end of the game which kind of hints at something that maybe happened or so on. It explains very little in the way of story and you might as well have a big sign saying "We’re just going to vaguely hint at stuff at the end and explain nothing" because that’s what it feels like they’re doing.

    The sound is very good at making the game feel creepy and ominous, with a haunting soundtrack that’s suprisingly quiet and yet manages to creepy you out. The sound effects are much louder than the soundtrack and the echo of footsteps reminds you that you are truly alone in this desolate world. The deaths are, from an audio standpoint, done very well, with convincing squishing sounds and bone breaking noises.

    The graphics are undoubtedly excellent, as they are black and white, but have the occasional shade of grey in the background. Like the soundtrack, the graphics do a very good job of making the game feel creepy, scary and unsettling. When you die, the deaths are pretty gruesome – black blood will squirt from your corpse, your lifeless body will fall limp and that spear will impale itself in your body. It’s not Gears of War violent, but it is gruesome for a black and white game. Limbo is not a horror game, it’s more reliant on creating a spooky atmosphere than actually trying to scare you, which is a shame, because it might have worked as a horror game.

    The gameplay falls short of the high standards set by other platformers. You can move in either direction, jump and push things. I’ve just describe every possible ability in the game. Seriously. Limbo is pretty simplistic in terms of controls, yet the puzzles seem to favour a trial-and-error based approach rather than a "work out the solution" approach. It doesn’t matter if the game was designed that way, trial and error based approaches should not be in platforming games, which rely on precise controls, good puzzle design and some sort of replay value. Limbo fails on all three accounts. The main character, an unnamed boy, is quite sluggish, which is noticeable in the jumping, a crucial element of EVERY PLATFORMER EVER. Jumping in Limbo is difficult, because your character is pretty sluggish and also seems to have little height when jumping. It’s infuriating. Now, maybe I could forgive this if Limbo had good puzzle design, but it doesn’t. As mentioned previously, puzzles take a trial and error approach, meaning you’re likely going to die several times, then figure out how to do the puzzle, instead of simply using your brain to figure out the puzzle. A good example of this would be a section in which a huge slab of metal will come crashing down if you attempt to walk on the ground. If you jump on a plate, the slab won’t come down. Moments later, the same puzzle appears, but this time the safety plate from the previous puzzle triggers the slab. This means I had to restart from the first slab.

    Limbo also has little replay value. There is only one mode – the main campaign, and although there are collectibles, it doesn’t help the fact that Limbo is painfully short. I got my copy free, but the game sells for £10/$15. That price isn’t enough to justify the few hours of content you’ll get out of Limbo. Once all the puzzles are cleared and the collectibles are gathered, there’s no incentive to replay Limbo. This is a major flaw, considering that there are other games with tons of replay value selling at similar prices. That isn’t to say Limbo is a terrible game, as it is enjoyable, but the flaws are deep. The game is enjoyable to play, either in short bursts or in longer playsessions.

    - Excellent graphics certainly give the game a "creep" factor.
    - Good soundtrack and voice effects to accompany the graphics in giving a "creep" factor.
    - Pretty enjoyable while it lasts.
    - Really creepy and spine-tingling, leaves you unsettled.

    - Puzzles favour a "trial and error" based approach which should not be in a platformer.
    - Jumping is sluggish and slow.
    - Simplistic controls and movement.
    - Game is too short and there is very little replay value.
    - Price is quite high for what you get.
    - It’s not actually scary, it’s just creepy and unsettling.

    Verdict: I would urge you to be very cautious when buying this, and if it came down to a yes/no recommendation, I’d vote no.

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