Review by ayame95

"A Charming Platformer"

t can be argued that one of the most exciting developments in the gaming industry over the last decade has been the emergence of the “Indie” development scene, in which smaller teams of developers focus on games that are smaller in scope (and budget) to be distributed at a low price. These parameters have allowed for some of the most creative ideas in recent gaming to emerge. As “AAA” class titles continue to incorporate larger budgets and use larger teams, much of the creativity and uniqueness that comes from a group of small individuals is lost.

The growing presence of online services has even allowed this scene to flourish on the consoles. LIMBO, available on both XBLA and PSN, is just such a game. A simple 2D platformer with little-to-no story (what is there is told mostly through imagery and implication, leaving much to the player's imagination), Limbo provides a more artistic approach to the gaming experience.

LIMBO excels in one thing above all others: art design. LIMBO's black-and-white art style effectively uses simple imagery and lighting to convey a dark, desperate atmosphere. Puzzles, enemies and backgrounds, while not overly complicated, contain a variety of small details that the careful player will notice, and which contribute to the atmosphere greatly. Even more notable are the sound effects. It has been said that LIMBO has “no music,” but in fact the game is rife with ambient sound effects, low and ominous tones, and small bits of subtle music that help create the dark atmosphere that defines LIMBO.

From a perspective of gameplay, LIMBO does not do anything revolutionary. The game is played with the analog stick and only two buttons. However, intelligent puzzle design and subtle visual cues throughout the game make LIMBO a pleasure to play. LIMBO also provides a number of small conveniences such as the ability nearly instantly reload after you die and frequent check pointing that avoids “down time” and further eases playability.

LIMBO highlights the debate over quality versus quantity when it comes to value. The game itself will run anywhere from 2-5 hours for your first playthrough. However, the time spent in LIMBO's world is unique enough and a valuable enough experience to warrant revisiting. Many gamers will also find LIMBO's haunting imagery sticking in their mind long after bigger, more expensive titles have come and gone. Thus LIMBO justifies itself as a purchase, regardless of length.

LIMBO may not be a big budget title with ultra-realistic explosions, expensive voice actors or other bells and whistles, but it uses what simple resources it has to effectively convey an atmosphere of oppressive loneliness and despair. Throw in precise platforming and “learn through death” puzzling, and you've got a creative, fun game worth owning.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/03/11

Game Release: LIMBO (US, 07/19/11)

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