Written by  :  Pagen HD (135)
Written on  :  Jan 02, 2014
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars3.4 Stars

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A great film. A bad game.

The Good

- Excellent visuals and sounds.

- Gruesome, violent death scenes.

- The Boy is a lot like me. Wears glasses (or not; can't really tell). Not the athletic type but he is a survivor (he respawns right after each death).

- Some of the deepest exploration of interpersonal relationships in video gaming. You feel these characters. The vicious guys (bullies) who try to kill the Boy. It's a cold world, not because of the natural hazards, but because of people. Bad, evil, people. The human race is constantly turning against each other and fighting each other. We will be our own demise.

- The Boy is an unnamed protagonist.

- Well, I'll keep talking about the Boy. He is the main reason why Limbo is great. He is a black figure with white eyes. Great symbolism throughout. His choice of colors suggests that he lives in a black, evil world, and he is just as black as the world around him, but he believes that good and beauty exist in this world and he wants to see them.

Have you heard the Blind Guardian song "Bright Eyes"? Yeah, this Boy has Bright Eyes.

- Unlike in Braid, the Boy cannot jump on enemies. The Boy cannot equip weapons or attack in any way. He has to use the environment to defeat enemies. Mostly he has to use the weaponry and hazards that were meant to kill him to kill the enemies.

- So basically the Boy is one of the (physically) weakest protagonists in gaming history. He is human. (However the Boy does have some unusual strength when he is climbing a rope or grabbing a platform.)

- Sparse ambient soundtrack. The audio in Limbo is mostly industrial noise. Occasionally there's music playing similar to Stars of the Lid's The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid. Every musical piece serves a function.

The Bad

The gameplay. Despite all the good things I have talked about, I didn't like the gameplay.

Since I'm reviewing the Windows version, I'll point out that there's no Gamepad support. There's no option to change the button layout. There is, however, a "Settings.txt" file in the game folder that allows you to use WSAD controls. But in any case the controls are awkward. The Boy doesn't move the way you would expect him to. It's quite obvious that this is intentional on the designer's part, but it's still bad.

The puzzles. Precise timing is often required, so even if you figured out the solution, you could still die easily. After you die you're back to the beginning of the puzzle. Very annoying. The way that the levels are designed, Limbo has become an action game more than anything else, because reflex and dexterity are more important than observing and thinking. It's a puzzle game that tries to emphasize on action or an action game that pretends to be a puzzle game. The result is a frustrating experience that isn't much fun.

The levels are unnamed and unlabeled. This means that when you're stuck in a chapter and need to use a walkthrough, you have no freaking idea which chapter you're currently in. You have to open a walkthrough in your web browser, and search for vague terms like "gravity switch", "pond" and "spider". This is stupid, and quite laughable as well. How hard is it to display a number of the current level?

The Bottom Line

If Limbo were a film, it would have been a four-star film, with rich symbolism and a deep exploration of themes. Limbo isn't a film. Limbo is a game that doesn't provide what games are supposed to provide.