Listen up… Limbo is the shit. You need to understand that. It’s an atmospheric puzzle platformer that consists of the color black and the color white and everything in between and that’s your whole color palette. It’s generally slow-paced and there aren’t any types of attacks or dodges. Most sections require you to solve a puzzle which can involve switches, timing your moves to get around environmental obstacles, and interacting with items in a specific order. The puzzles get really creative and unique and also make sense within the environment. There is basically zero plot; it’s not that kind of game, baby. Your character doesn’t speak which is good because I think the phrase “I need therapy” would be repeated constantly.
I said it’s a puzzle platformer that’s slower paced but please know that it has a million gruesome ways to kill you if you mess up. Thankfully, the game is very quick at getting you back to where you left off without having to replay the whole level again. Which is great because death is violent and common in this bad boy. And you will die. A lot. Or maybe you’re really great at games. But I still think you’ll die. A lot.
According to howlongtobeat.com, it takes 3.5 hours to beat and that’s roughly how long it took for me to beat it on my Switch. Lots of my friends are looking for shorter games these days. When I say that I mean roughly 10 hours though. This is shorter than I would normally like but in this case I didn’t mind. At just 3.5 hours, you could get through the whole thing in a single session if your bladder has the capacity. And just like in Portal, those 3+ hours of gameplay are more meaningful than all of those games with padded out campaigns of silly fetch quests that take you to all of the corners of the map.
The controls are simple and straightforward. You control a little dude that’s basically a silhouette with white eyes and you can move around and you can grab/move objects. That’s it. The game is broken up into lots of really small segments and your progress is recorded as you clear an area. You can go back and re-play areas if you feel the need. The game is really light on secrets and exploring. Certain versions of the game (I believe the Xbox 360 doesn’t have this) allow you to collect a few glowing eggs which will unlock a secret level. I personally didn’t do that but I believe in you. You can find all the eggs and be the Egg God of Limbo Island. Then I’ll join your cult.
Another part of the games charm is the art style it uses. The is available on PC, Xbox (360 and newer), PS3/4/Vita, mobile, and even Linux. I went with the Switch for this game because of the black and white art style and the fact that I have an OLED Switch (and an OLED TV) which really sells the black and white setting of the game. The Vantablack darks along with the white highlights really pop.
It’s a fairly minimal aesthetic and the sound design has a similar ethos to it. There are a few “ominous tones” here and there but mostly you just hear the sounds of whatever is around the environment instead of having music playing. There are lots of good creepy echoes, the sound of dripping water, saw blades whirring, machinery clanking, and electricity zapping. All sounds of things ready to mess up your day if you mistime a jump, stand in the wrong spot, or decide to play with exposed wiring.
Something I need to mention is that if you’re afraid of being attacked by giant spiders then you better avoid this game. There are only a few parts with spiders but they’re done quite well. Although you do get to hurt them for certain puzzles. Actually, I need to tell you about this one part closer to the beginning where a one legged spider is trying to impale you when you get too close to it. You fake it out and then grab its leg when it goes for the attack. Then you pull the leg off of the body and now you’re able to roll the defenseless body over a set of spikes that was blocking your advance. That’s the kind of interesting and odd puzzle solving that this game has plenty of.
There is almost no text to read. There are no items to keep track of in your inventory. There is no character progression or leveling. No hints. Survival is progress. Your deeds are the story. Courage, observation, and a drive for survival are all that you brought with you. The ability to retry a section as many times as it takes is your one super power. So, yeah… if you like platformers, solving puzzles, short and unique experiences, or murdering silhouettes, then I suggest you give Limbo a try. It’s fairly cheap too.