Screenshot of Limbo Spider

Limbo is an original game developed by Playdead and available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows and Xbox One. The puzzle platform videogame was released in 2010, with the OS X version following the next year. Linux users had to wait until 2014 and the PlayStation 4 version came even later, on 24 February 2015. At the time of its release, it was widely regarded as one of the most original games.

Key facts about Limbo

  • Limbo has an amazing presentation, with players establishing a strong connection with the protagonist, without a story or dialogs.
  • The indie game uses black-and-white visuals and the simple graphics brilliantly succeed at conveying a powerful message.
  • Limbo is as much about the sound effects as it is about visuals, with an eerie soundtrack and sound effects that help with puzzle solving.
  • The game has very few explanations and players need to employ a trial and error system to complete the story.
  • Limbo has tremendous lasting appeal, despite the short single player and the absence of a multiplayer or cooperative mode.

The Limbo games

Limbo games are not played at a fast pace, but rather unfold one step at a time. Puzzles are at the cornerstone of the gameplay and they tend to get more complicated as you progress with the missions. Each discovery makes it easy for players to tackle the next challenge, but failure is a part of the game. Those who persevere, will get to love these challenges, as even when you fail, you don’t get frustrated.

There’s a lot of dying in Limbo games and producers didn’t hold back on gory graphics. Some moments are charged with emotion, while others get you the chills down the spine. The final chapters also happen to be the most difficult, so the game advances to a natural conclusion. Despite all the obstacles that players need to overcome, the game is made in such a way as to stay entertainment. When players fail, the game resumes right before the setback so they can get another chance to get things right.

The absence of a multiplayer mode has a deterring effect on those who purchased the game hoping to spend a lot of time playing. On the bright side, you can start the campaign from scratch and try to solve puzzles in a different way. This also has the advantage of allowing players to get a better idea of what the story is all about. The game has a leaderboard that makes it easy for players to monitor their progress, yet there are no stats to compare with your peers.

What is Limbo

Limbo is simply the best 2D sidescroller a video game of its generation and it was developed by Playdead. It uses the physics system Box2D and can be played on a broad spectrum of consoles and computers. The protagonist is a small boy who tries to complete countless puzzles to move forward with the single player. A truly original game, it has a relatively short narrative but immense replayability.

Screenshot of Limbo Forrest
Screenshot of Limbo Forrest

Gameplay of Limbo

The gameplay of Limbo is original yet it bears many similarities to classic two-dimensional platform games. The video game is all about atmosphere and developers have extracted an astonishing amount from grayscale graphics. When navigating the eerie environment players need to pay attention to the dangers lurking at every corner. A single mistake is enough to trigger the untimely demise of the leading character and most puzzles are unforgiving.

Players are supposed to discover the core game mechanics by themselves, as Limbo doesn’t have a tutorial. The initial puzzles are easier for this reason, but as players learn the ropes, the quests get more complicated. Interaction with NPCs is essential in some missions and tangential in others, so players are always surprised. In the second half of the game, mechanical puzzles are more numerous and players need to use various machines.

The developers have gone to great lengths to make sure that most puzzles are original and can be completed in a single way. It’s important to pay attention not only to the visuals but also to sounds, to get your cues and find solutions. Limbo is essentially a trial and repeat video game, whose gameplay is further enhanced by the game achievements. These can be unlocked throughout the campaign and the leaderboard helps players keep track of their progress.

Plot of Limbo

Limbo doesn’t follow the narrative line of standard video games and instead encourages players to daydream. The protagonist is a nameless boy who wakes up in a dark forest and start searching for his younger sister. In his quest, he encounters various creatures of the forest, a couple of humans and various contraptions that help or hurt him.

Screenshot of Limbo Ladder
Screenshot of Limbo Ladder

The interactions with human characters are the most intense ones and game developers purposely failed to explain them in any way. Completing puzzles doesn’t get repetitive, but the obstacles are the cornerstone of the game and the driving force behind the single player. The final one is the most difficult and the story comes to a screeching halt when he encounters a girl. It would be a sin to tell you what happens next before the credits roll, so instead will let you discover by yourself.

Development of Limbo

Playdead had a small budget to create Limbo and game director Arnt Jensen had to work with limited resources. He had previously worked for IO Interactive and chose to start his own company as he was unhappy with corporations. He shook hands with Dino Patti and lead designer Jeppe Carlsen and started working on Limbo, the first important project. The release of the teaser video worked wonders and sent shockwaves across the Internet, raising interest for the game.

Playdead had to fund much of the project out-of-pocket, but also benefited from support from the Danish government. The game was supposed to be available for free on Microsoft Windows, but later on they changed their mind. They stayed true to their core idea and declined the invitation of adding multiplayer and adjustable difficulty levels. With a tiny team of as little as 8 developers and freelancers that later tagged along, they were able to release the game on time.

Where can I download Limbo?

Limbo can be downloaded from the Playdead official website or bought at local video game retail shops. Since this is the company that has recently produced Inside, players would be wise to check it out as well. The two games bear many similarities and it is certain that fans of the original will love the new game.

Screenshot of Limbo In the Dark
Screenshot of Limbo In the Dark

What are others saying about Limbo?

Players fell in love with Limbo well before the official release date and they were equally impressed later on. Everyone was talking about the accomplishments of a tiny team of developers driven by a common dream. The game was frequently compared to other previous minimalist platform games and ranked higher by most reviewers. There were no complaints regarding the lack of multiplayer as this 2D sidescroller is driven by its story.

There were a couple of professional reviewers and players who complained about the length-to-price ratio. They felt that playing $15 to play a game whose single player campaign doesn’t spend beyond five hours is a bit steep. However, the vast majority of reviewers and prospective customers consider the prize to be fair for such a gem. The design, sound effects and the presentation of Limbo exceeded expectations and this reflected in the reviews scores.

Limbo tournaments

Limbo doesn’t have a multiplayer so nobody expects players to be able to compete in tournaments of any source. This is the kind of game to enjoy when you have a couple of free hours, but you feel like having all the time in the world. It’s a cinematic experience as much as a video game, so if you’re in the market for eSports you should look elsewhere. League of Legends, Dota 2, SMITE, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 or Counter Strike Global Offensive are a few examples.

My rating of Limbo

I don’t mind paying the right price for a quality product and I don’t think that a length-to-price ratio type of evaluation applies to Limbo. This is precisely the kind of personal initiative that we should encourage if we care about the future. The developers extracted an astonishing amount from the limited resources and came up with an amazing video game.

This juicy little nugget only kept me playing for five hours, but I thought about it for weeks. Its plot, grayscale graphics, chilling soundtrack and challenging puzzles make it worth every single dollar. Limbo is an emotional adventure and it stirs the kind of feelings that few video games can even scratch. I love it as much as I love Playdead’s latest creation Inside so I give it the same score of 9.5 out of 10.

Overall Score