Sometimes, games are at their best when they keep things simple. And that’s just what developer Playdead has done with LIMBO, a side-scrolling, puzzle-platformer that on the surface looks pretty simple. However, LIMBO quickly becomes so much more. Though the game doesn’t have a big plot, narration or otherwise, you just get the sense that there’s a lot going on, both in the background and right in front of you.
Originally released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, LIMBO finally makes its way to iOS and retains its gorgeous black and white, hand-drawn art style. The game uses soft tones with impressive lighting, and just enough detail to give players an idea of what is on the screen.
What perhaps stands out most in the game is the way the things unfold. Players take control of a boy who wakes up in a forest. Unsure of where he is or what’s going on, you set him out on the apparent search for his sister. There are no cues, no cutscenes, and nothing that describes how to actually play the game. A brief look at the controls in the menu reveal that there are only two actions besides walking; jumping and the action button, which can be used to grab things (and ultimately, pull, activate switches etc.).
Players will be jumping over pits, swinging on ropes, avoiding obstacles and even engaging in mini-battles (well, sort of). There are no “levels” per se, and although the game does autosave “chapters”, you’ll never know it. The game simply keeps on going without a pause, loading screen or anything of the like.
Having already played the game for the PS3, I feel like LIMBO translated pretty well to iOS. The game’s controls on the touchscreen work for the most part, but there are a few times when using the digital directional pad is either too sensitive or acts like you stopped moving the game’s character, which leads to a lot of untimely deaths. It’s not all bad, and a lot of the time it does work, but it’s not as easy to control as it is on consoles.
Speaking of which, some of the game’s puzzles are pretty straight forward, while others really force you to think about how you can interact with the environment. Fortunately LIMBO never really punishes you for dying, and dying you will. The game was clearly designed with a trial-and-error mentality and luckily after dying, the game spawns you back not too far away from where you met your untimely death. What was kind of cool was how brutal some of the deaths can be. While the game’s design doesn’t allow gamers to see how gruesome the game can be, it’s obvious enough – things like getting cut in half, being decapitated etc., with blood or intestines spewing everywhere.
My only other complaint, and it’s a minor one, is the way the game ends. I won’t spoil it, but needless to say, things end pretty abruptly, just as it appears that something really meaningful is going to happen. Though the game isn’t heavy on plot, you just feel like something of major interest is about to happen, especially the way it gets set up. But then nothing. It’s not a deal breaker by any means since the game is really all about the design and gameplay, but I would’ve liked to see a bigger payoff.
At the end of the day, LIMBO is a fascinating and engaging title that any true gamer must experience.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5