PS3 Reviews: Limbo Review

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Limbo Review

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Graphics:

 

8.9

Gameplay:

 

9.3

Sound:

 

8.7

Control:

 

9.1

Replay Value:

 

9.0

Overall Rating:       9.0

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

PlayDead

Developer:

PlayDead

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Puzzle/Action

Webster’s non-religious definition of limbo reads: “A place or state of oblivion to which persons or things are regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past, or out of date.” Well, that fits. In PlayDead’s creative and surprisingly addicting title, we find ourselves in a very dark world, where even our main character is merely a shadow with eyes. Everything seems neither here nor there; even when you’re progressing, you still feel mired in an unforgiving dream world. As time goes on, however, you realize other shadowy beings are invading your personal “limbo,” and hazards lurk over every ridge. It’s subdued yet captivating.

As you might’ve surmised from the available screenshots or videos, there’s a whole lot of shadow in this game. Just about everything is either flat-out black or a shade of gray. Occasionally, you’ll come across a few white design pieces, such as the cocoon in which you find yourself imprisoned at one point. Clearly, the intent is to generate a unique, engaging environment and the developers succeed beautifully. My only complaint is that it’s so devoid of color and evident life, one begins to feel somewhat detached. However, that’s a minor complaint as the gameplay blends nicely with the presentation. And suddenly, you can’t look away.

Like everything else about this production, the sound exists on the verge of…well, existence. It’s sort of there. There’s almost no soundtrack to speak of and the majority of your experience will be spent in creepy silence. But the sound effects are appropriately on-point and when the audio does swell – typically before you face a significant challenge – it hits you right between the eyes. These days, I don’t normally get chills anymore, but there were times when I literally shivered. And that was owing mostly to the quick albeit temporary influx of sound. A part of me wanted a low-pitched, persistent orchestral track, but that’s a subjective design opinion.

And speaking of design, few downloadable titles (indeed, few full-budget games) boast this impressive level of imagination and creativity. Limbo is about drawing you into a mysterious world and at first, it doesn’t seem like much. In many ways, it reminded me of Thatgamecompany’s Flower. While the two games in question are polar opposites in a dozen different ways, both begin with a whisper. It’s just a whisper; it tantalizes and teases, and while the overtly conscious part of yourself is going, “…okay, not sure where this is headed,” another deeper, less explored part is anxious and anticipatory. Remember when your lonely little petal touched that first flower? Well, it’s similar – in sensation only – to when you conquer your first puzzle in this unique quest.

Indeed, this game is a puzzler and platformer wrapped into one. All you can do is jump and grab certain objects for pushing or pulling. And considering the environment isn’t exactly overloaded with detail and complexity, you initially have to wonder how far the designers can take the concept. But you will discover the answer with an excited little grin. Every time they throw something new at you, the effect is immediate. You never saw it coming and it’s always an intriguing twist on the current formula, which continues to flex and bend. You’ll never do more than jump and grab and yet, they do so much with that seemingly simple mechanic.

The control is just about right; it’s responsive and only a tad floaty when jumping. It’s never erratic or unreliable, though, and you’ll have the controls mastered in a matter of minutes. The pacing is excellent. The adventure continues along without stopping; you can see that there are separate levels when you go to the menu screen, but there’s no additional loading once you start. You just go. And they know when and how to build up to big challenges, and when to give you a breather. I would’ve liked a bit of exploring; just some small paths that lead to goodies, or something. But I don’t mind the linearity and in fact, it keeps the player pinned in the moment. You always want to push forward.

I did find some of the puzzles to be a little obscure, especially later in the game. And there were a few very unforgiving parts that made me curse the platforming (not the quality of the platforming, but my performance). But other than that, it’s the overall design that makes the game an instant classic in the digital realm. So much thought is put into the scenarios that you’re forced to appreciate the work; in fact, you’re consistently praising the developers as you run along. There are a ton of amazing ideas here; some are better than others, but they all come together to create one of the most inspired, inventive interactive adventures of the generation.

Limbo is one of those games that just begs to be played. Even if it doesn’t seem like your cup of tea; if the style puts you off, if the puzzle-based aspect seems intimidating, it still demands your attention. It isn’t perfect, as one could pick out a few tiny flaws and questionable design and puzzle choices, but it’s guaranteed to be fulfilling. It’s the atmosphere that initially grabs us, and the gameplay that solidifies our long-term involvement. Just make sure you make it past the first “boss” (a spider) before you decide whether or not to finish it. Like I said, it starts with a whisper but really gets rolling, and you don’t have to wait long.

If you didn’t play it last year on Xbox Live, it’s time to download. Limbo is easily one of the best digital offerings available.

P.S. I should mention that despite the artistic, reserved presentation, your character goes through some hideous deaths. But they’re so funny you almost want to seem them more than once.

The Good: Singular, immersive atmosphere. Superb design. Imagination and creativity are off the charts. Solid control. Fantastic pacing, decent length. An appreciated challenge.

The Bad: Maybe too dark and silent. Jumping can feel a touch floaty. Tougher puzzles can feel obscure.

The Ugly: “Oh damn…I died hardcore.”

7/19/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (30 posts)

Deleted User []
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 9:33:49 PM
Reply

I'm a third of the way through and I find Limbo so far much more to my liking than Trine, Braid or Outland.

I was able to get the game for $11.99 since I still have free PSN+ service.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Qubex
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 9:39:39 PM

You scored well :) Enjoy the experience and remember, don't remain in Limbo for too long...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Claire C
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 9:46:40 PM
Reply

I think will get this after all. I love the look of it. Reminds me of a silent, black and white horror movie. creeeeppyyyyy.... :/

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Geobaldi
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 9:50:12 PM
Reply

Played a bit of it back when it first launched at a friends house and really enjoyed it. I'll pick it up next month when the Steam version comes out.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 9:50:38 PM
Reply

I'll be playing and reviewing this tonight, I can't wait :)

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Nas Is Like
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:09:07 PM
Reply

What do you mean by "tougher puzzles can feel obscure", out of curiosity?

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Claire C
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 10:11:37 PM

Hard to figure out makes them feel less intuitive?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:10:28 PM

Sort of what Claire said.

I say that not because I'm stumped or because I feel over-matched, but because I feel the design of that particular puzzle wasn't quite so intuitive.

It doesn't happen often in Limbo, though. Most all of it is fantastic.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 7/19/2011 11:10:42 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:31:56 PM
Reply

Okay I've been playing for a bit now and while I "get it" I don't really like it. Glad I didn't pay anything for it.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 6 down Disagree with this comment

Claire C
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:40:39 PM

Try turning the lights off and broadening your mind. =D

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godsdream
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:56:21 PM

Did you like Flow, Flower, Echochrome? Do you think you'r going to like journey? Maybe it's not your type of games, I mean, like weird and rare in a good way to describe them.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 12:07:59 AM

I like weird and rare games, definitely liked Flower. Don't worry about my mind it's already too broad, the game just isn't my kind of game, there's nothing really wrong with it.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 7 down Disagree with this comment

Ignitus
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 1:07:04 AM

I played it when it launched on Xbox and I didnĀ“t like it either. I think it's over hyped. Let's see how many like it after they play it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 1:51:19 AM

Definitely overhyped, but also not particularly flawed. I just happen to think without its black and white it likely would have been passed over by most.

My review: http://www.velocitygamer.com/pt/Review-Limbo/blog.htm

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 7/20/2011 1:52:00 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 10:27:10 AM

World: No offense, but of course it wouldn't be as good or as popular without the black and white. It's part of the atmosphere; part of the reason we play the game.

That's like saying Killer7 wouldn't have been as good without that unique cel shaded look. Sometimes, the specific environment of a title is placed at the forefront, even ahead of the gameplay, and that's the reason it excels.

The black and white isn't glossing over flaws or diverting our attention from something overly simple. It's part of the experience.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 7/20/2011 10:28:05 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 12:25:27 PM

None taken, it just seems like that environmental choice has over-wowed people. Like when they made a huge deal out of Shindler's List being black and white, it's kinda like yeah it fits really well but let's focus on the content.

I don't disagree with this review at all, just some of the heart attacks people are having over the game.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 7/20/2011 12:27:04 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 12:42:52 PM

Well, I'm not about to have a heart attack over it. The only "heart attacks" I get result in mid-to-high 9s. ;)

IMO, Joe Danger is the best downloadable game of the generation.

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godsdream
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:42:42 PM
Reply

I've waited for this review some time until now. Now I really want it more. Can't wait to buy this.

Last edited by godsdream on 7/19/2011 11:44:30 PM

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BeezleDrop
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 1:32:15 AM
Reply

It really isn't a indie title to miss, as I am immensely enjoying Outland as well I highly recommend this one. I just cannot get enough of the indie titles.

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Quincho
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 1:55:11 AM

thumbs up for outland!!!

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Quincho
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 1:56:23 AM
Reply

I think im going to buy this one in the mourning... nice reviews!!

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Ludicrous_Liam
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 3:33:37 AM
Reply

Sounds just like LBP...I'll save my money and type it into LBP2's search engine instead. xD
(I'm a LBP addict now by the way)

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___________
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 3:52:25 AM
Reply

i was really enjoying this till i got a few missions in and found it sufferers from what almost every game this generation suffers from.
i like to call it cut and paste syndrome.
create one level cut and paste it a few times, then create a new one cut and paste it a few times, then create a new level cut and paste it a few times, wallah a new game you have!
shadows of the damned is a better example of this, i was having so much fun with that till every freaking boss battle was wait till they spark the darkness, shoot a light shot to open up there weakness, then fill them with lead.
rinse and repeat.
was allot of fun the first time, but after that, well.
lets put it this way, everyone loves ice cream right?
well you would not love it so much if you had nothing but that to eat for say 2 years.
now would you?

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Beamboom
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 @ 6:10:16 AM
Reply

I'll wait for the Vita version (it has to happen, right?).
It's not that I have anything against these nuggets, I don't, but I think they belong to handheld gaming.

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Fane1024
Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 5:55:08 AM
Reply

The demo was good, I would have been tempted to get it day 1 if it hadn't released at $15 ($12 for PS+). A year-old port which was criticised for being short...I'll wait until it's $8 or less.

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TheCanadianGuy
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 @ 2:23:16 PM

hope you get alot of use out of that 7$ you save like a year from now.
we'll all be over here playing Linbo in the meantime.

Last edited by TheCanadianGuy on 8/3/2011 2:24:56 PM

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Fane1024
Saturday, November 26, 2011 @ 6:13:02 PM

Well, here we are four months later (not a year) and I will be buying Limbo for under $8.

And the $7 I will have saved by waiting is going to buy Might & Magic Clash Of Heroes, so I guess I get the last laugh.

;P

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TheCanadianGuy
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 3:48:50 PM

hahaha yup looks like! :) sorry if i came across as a a** there i really meant in a humorous way not mean xD

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556pineapple
Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 11:09:13 AM
Reply

Just beat this game last night. Great fun, if a bit short, but the plus member discount basically eliminates the problem of over-paying. And yes, very addicting. A friend of mine played the demo on Xbox last year, and I believe he dismissed it too quickly, or maybe he doesn't like puzzles. Either way, this is the type of game that should have exclusivity on the PS3 FIRST, then go to the other platforms.

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Ninja_WafflesXD
Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 6:37:05 PM
Reply

Yay! I was rooting for this to get good reviews and wasn't disappointed. I absolutely loved the demo!

P.S. I know this is kinda off-topic, but after playing the Catherine demo also, I think that I'm starting to really get into the puzzle genre of video games....found both of them especially creepy, in their own ways :)

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