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Immerse Yourself In A New World

It’s challenging to speak about Limbo without ruining what makes it so amazing. As you enter its world, it has that unusual quality of a dream that is slowly transforming into a nightmare. Stark black and white visuals make you question where you are. There is no music, and the audio is oddly amplified, inexorably pulling you into the dark forest where this little boy awakens. You begin walking, and the horrible danger and beauty of your surroundings begin to take shape. Through a brief but brilliant adventure, you feel yourself completely absorbed in the game’s shadowy netherworld.

On the surface, this downloadable XBLA title is a side-scrolling platformer of jumping, climbing, and puzzle solving. Pull switches, push boxes, activate contraptions – many of the standard genre mechanics are in place, but channeled through a filter of evocative visuals and original design concepts. It has almost no story to speak of beyond a vague description of a boy’s search for his sister. I found myself applying my own interpretations to the unfolding quest and its startlingly abrupt conclusion, but those ideas are best left for players to sort through on their own.

Along the way, gamers encounter one puzzling situation after another, each challenging them to think in a new way. In every case, the physics of the world are at play – first in normal ways, like how a ball moves on a sloped surface, and later in increasingly abnormal ways, like how gravity functions in a world without traditional rules. The game triumphs because every one of these encounters stands alone. Each time you think you have a grip on where you are, who is chasing you, or even the nature of the world, everything changes. That’s all the more impressive because each event flows seamlessly into the next, blurring the passing between environments and puzzles. The only constant is the extreme peril. The presence of the little boy should by no means communicate this as a game for children. The hero regularly dies in gruesome, painful ways as you make inevitable mistakes, and his age makes those scenes all the more startling.

Limbo has some challenging hidden achievements that will reward subsequent playthroughs, but the initial run is only five or six hours long. I beg you not to let that dissuade you from trying it out. As I played, fellow editors would occasionally tap my shoulder and draw my attention away, and I would catch myself jumping – not because I was scared, but because I was so engrossed in the experience that it felt jarring to be pulled out so suddenly. Play it. Turn up the sound. I challenge you not to feel the same.

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User Reviews:

  • 8.50
    I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous writings how big a deal I believe atmosphere is in video games. As of late, developers seem to be thinking the same thing; indie developers in particular. What with the huge competition between the upcoming next-gen consoles, one of the big arguments between...
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  • 9.50
    oh, where to begin with this game... Limbo can be bought in the Playstation store, as well as the x-box live arcade respectively, for a believe a meager $15 [possibly $10][either way its worth it!]. whats best about this game is you wont find another game like it. its hard to explain what it is that...
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  • 9.25
    I just finished LIMBO and I was just blown away from start to finish. I went in expecting a solid puzzle/platformer and was rewarded with so much more, time after time. I will start off with what I did not like about the game. The only thing I can come up with is the length of it. I'm not one that...
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  • 8.00
    Take gore scare and horror put it in a never ending chain(literally) and you get limbo!
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  • 9.50
    Its not like me to give a XLBA game a very high score, but once I purchased Limbo and booted the game up, I knew my perception of these types of games was about to change. Limbo, like my title states, is a beautiful nightmare. Your character, a mysterious young boy who is nothing more than a black figure...
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  • 9.75
    Never before has a XBOX Live Arcade title impressed me as much as Limbo. This game offers a unique experience that can only be realized through playing the game for yourself. Because of the absence of dialog and story, players are unknowingly put into the shoes of this little boy. After taking his first...
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