Limbo is a perfect example of a great concept that isn’t executed well. The game starts fine; you’re dropped in the middle of the forest with no idea of who you are, or where you are. The art direction alone is enough to continue on in this mysterious world, and soon puzzle elements appear along with monstrous creatures. This is a world I can get into. Unfortunately, the game turns on itself about halfway through, and everything I enjoyed about the first half of Limbo transformed into something that I dreaded.

Limbo plays a lot like any other platforming-puzzle game. You move through the ambiguous world, solve puzzles and continue your journey. The forest setting is filled with danger at every turn, whether it be spiders the size of cars, slugs that control your mind, or even other humans who inexplicably have it out for you.

[quote_right]”Oddly enough, dying is the best way to solve the puzzles in Limbo“[/quote_right]The puzzles start simple enough, move this box here to jump to the ledge stuff, but it gets more complex as you go. Backtracking through the world or setting traps for creatures becomes an integral part of the game. Oddly enough, dying is the best way to solve the puzzles in Limbo. The game expects failure – and often – but learning from these failures is how it teaches you the ins and outs of the game. The game boasts very reasonable checkpoints allowing theories to be tested in excess to solve puzzles.

But tackling these puzzles becomes very tedious halfway through the game. The change from intuitive puzzles to what feels more like tricks in the second half is abrupt and disappointing. Additionally, the puzzles become less of figuring out a complex situation, and more about timing mechanics or twitch gameplay, which aren’t suitable with the slow moving platforming mechanics.

Limbo 2

The change in gameplay unfortunately accompanies a similar change in setting. A modern wasteland devoid of creatures and people replaces the looming threat and fear of the forest with emptiness and boredom. What intrigued me so much in the first half is absent in the second. The game’s only saving grace is the art direction. The very minimal aesthetic design presents the unnamed main character completely in silhouette except for his eyes, and everything in the back and foreground is presented in black, white or shades in between.

This might come off as drab if not for the way light is manipulated in Limbo. The sun in Limbo is a good example of how light can be used to spice up the design of a game. When uncovered by the forest, its glare is almost blinding and consumes much of the screen. In contrast, there are times when the sun is blocked, rendering the screen in utter darkness sans the boy’s eyes.

Wrap Up

Limbo’s pleasing artistic design and sense of despair help present the game as an adventure, and for a while it feels like it. Unfortunately, the difference between the first half and second is night and day. The fun had from the start of Limbo is replaced by frustration in the latter portion of the game. The puzzles feel more like tricks in the end and the game becomes a grind.

4
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About The Author

Senior Editor

I love burritos and hot wings. Reading is cool. TV is better than movies. Pibb Xtra is a really good soda. I write about games, and you can follow me on twitter @IsaacFed

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