The imagination can exaggerate the simplest of things.
My imagination twisted Limbo into one of the most gruesome and gory games I’ve ever played. Nearly every action on screen elicited a reaction. Some of it was shock and horror. Some of it was hilarious. But all of it was spawned by the actions of silhouettes.
Limbo was a very simple game. Everything was in black and white. The controls were limited to moving, jumping and grabbing onto objects. And there was a distinct absence of ambient noise; only the most crucial sounds could be heard which was key to avoiding traps and ambushes.
I controlled the boy with no name or face — all I could see were his little white eyes shining in the darkness. There was no exposition or introduction to Limbo, it was as cold and open as it was dark. There were very few options to consider as well. It was either go left towards a dead end or go right to progress. However, unlike other games, death was an integral part of progress in Limbo. I had to die in order to learn from my mistakes.
No matter how careful I was, I was — more often than not — watching the poor kid get impaled on spikes, decapitated or dismembered horribly. There were tells and hints of incoming death, but I wasn’t able to pick up on all of them until it was too late. Normally, that would be a point of frustration, but not in Limbo with its generous checkpoints and speedy load times.
As morbid as it sounds, the boy’s deaths were not only sources of enlightment, but also entertainment. I chuckled when I accidentally bopped him on the head with a giant box. I gasped when he was crushed by a giant boulder and I cringed whenever a death involved an explosion of body parts. A range of reactions and none of it was for the “story”.
It was obvious that the boy was on a journey of some sort. There was even an ending which didn’t resonate with me in the slightest. There was some semblance of reasoning behind the madness, but I was not motivated enough to decipher the meaning of the transition from the eerie forest into a deadly factory or why children were trying to kill me. The only reason I pressed on was to see what wondrous and deadly environment puzzle the game had in store.
All good things must come to an end and at approximately four hours, so did Limbo. Some have said that end came too soon. I disagree. The ending was sudden, but it felt appropriate. I left Limbo the way I entered; suddenly and without explanation. It may have seemed like they didn’t know how to end it, but that was fine by me. I enjoyed every moment of what I played and that total time of enjoyment is a lot more than most 10 hour games out there.
For more information on Limbo, visit the official site.