LIMBO is a monochromatic, 2D side-scrolling puzzle/platformer/horror game exclusive to the Xbox Live Arcade. It is also one of the best games you'll play all year. It is a perfect blend of an amazing art style, great sound design, and terrifically smart and clever gameplay that will hook you from the moment you pick up the controller. For just 1200 MSP ($15), it is a steal.
LIMBO is a simple game. There is no real story. You're just a kid, stuck in a crazy, dangerous land, and it is in your best interest to get out of there as quickly as possible. The gameplay is similarly simple. Aside from movement with the analog stick, there are only two controls - jump and use. This is a 2D platformer, so you run and jump to climb over objects, climb ropes, and jump across platforms. There is a puzzle element, though, that requires you to push and pull objects to make your own bridges or to deal with environmental dangers. And there are a lot of dangers in this world. You will die a lot between the giant spiders stalking you through a forest, a village of kids trying to kill you, and an industrial area full of sharp tools and weapons.
You never get frustrated with it, though. You restart a few seconds away from where you died and can continue on your merry way. That threat of having the next puzzle likely kill you, and never knowing what is going to happen next, gives the game a great sense of foreboding and fear. On top of that are some straight up horror elements like traps everywhere, giant spiders, and dead bodies. This game is scary.
What makes LIMBO great is that everything is so subtle. This isn't "jump out and say boo" horror. This isn't gross you out with violence and gore horror. This is incredibly smart and subtle psychological horror. Since the graphics are all in black and white and shades of gray, all you ever see are silhouettes and shadows, but it is incredibly effective. Likewise, the sound is limited mostly to your own footfalls and occasional environmental sounds, but when the music kicks in it is very significant and, again, effective. The presentation is absolutely stunning here. This is a showpiece game even if it isn't flashy like other Xbox 360 standouts.
LIMBO is a game that wasn't on my radar at all, but from the moment I started it I knew I loved it. It just looks and sounds so fantastic and the gameplay and puzzles are so simple and subtle yet incredibly satisfying. It isn't terribly long and can be beaten in anywhere from 3-6 hours, but it is a satisfying 3-6 hours and replay value is decent as there are hidden secrets to find. Plus, speed runs are pretty much what 2D platformers were made for. LIMBO is definitely worth the 1200MSP ($15). It isn't just a good XBLA game, it is one of the best games I've played all year. Period.
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