Review

Limbo Review

  • First Released Jul 21, 2010
    released
  • XONE

Limbus infantium.

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"Nana, do little boys and girls go to heaven when they die?"

"No, honey. They go to limbo."

This conversation with my grandmother introduced me to the idea of an otherworldly realm in which I pictured children wandering aimlessly through darkness and mist, denied the pleasure of communing with God. I imagined that to be in Limbo was to feel perpetually lost and unable to find the way, or to even know what your destination might be.

Limbo, the game, is special in that while it does not wholly depict that mysterious dimension as my mind did, it captures its essence. You are a boy who wakes up in a lonely world made up only of black, white, and shades of gray. Video game logic demands you walk from left to right, jumping over obstacles as they appear, a simple task that needs little attention in the initial moments. This is your chance to absorb your surroundings. The background provides an illusion of depth, but its branches and bridges are out of focus, as if you are dreaming them into existence. The pint-sized hero, his bright blinking eyes shining from his blackened silhouette, trots ahead with the charming gangliness of a six-year-old.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Then comes death. Limbo is a hostile place, home to giant spiders that would feast upon you, and traps apparently scattered by the world's other denizens. You step onto a claw trap, and it closes on your neck. Your head falls to the ground and wobbles just for a moment before lying still. No tears are shed, no music plays--the game provides no grand gesture to honor your demise. It simply happens, and you revive at the most recent checkpoint to try the puzzle again. Some of these deaths aren't outright fair; stepping on a pressure plate could mean certain death, but so could jumping over it. Such inconsistencies aren't common, but your first time in Limbo requires some trial-and-error experimentation. Loading times are short, and checkpoints are frequent, however, so death is rarely a frustration, though often a horror.

What does it all mean? People pondered that question when Limbo was first released on the Xbox 360 in 2010, and the Xbox One version adds nothing new that would illuminate the mystery of this world, so there's little reason to splurge on another version if you've already played. Nevertheless, the ending offers important clues to the greater plot, if not to the details of the game's events and objects--the imposing neon hotel sign that you must cross, for instance, or the murderous children, seemingly escaped from Lord of the Flies, that aim their blowguns at you. Limbo means for its atmosphere to consume you in the moment, and in that sense, it succeeds. You drag a dead child's corpse to solve a puzzle, and perhaps wonder if anyone grieves this lost soul given the apathy of the realm. You glimpse a figure and regard her with tenderness, but the brief glimmer of hope is snuffed out in an instant.

No Caption Provided
After life, before death.
After life, before death.

It isn't until the final third of its two- to three-hour runtime that Limbo's puzzles become challenging. The first half of the game is more concerned with building dread and ambiguity. Even after being vanquished, a colossal spider's remaining leg thrusts at you from its thorax, one final act of defiance that could leave two corpses for the crows to pick. When you pull the leg from the spider, the audible cracks and visible white splatters emphasize just how recently its life force was crushed. Elsewhere, you push boxes and pull levers, rushing to finish the puzzle before the rising water fills the room. Failure means watching the dear boy go as limp as a ragdoll as liquid fills his lungs.

The second half leaves behind the horrors in favor of puzzles involving gravity and complex machinery. As memorable as it is to navigate tilting rooms with only a few hanging lamps to light the way, it is that spider that most embodies Limbo's somber spirit. The later puzzles are complex and clever, but they don't haunt the heart. The finale feels abrupt because it returns to the first hour's imagery, having abandoned it for long enough to have altered your personal connection with the game from an emotional one to an intellectual one. And yet the end offers insight into a backstory left otherwise untouched--enough of it to inspire another playthrough, this time ever so much wiser than you were before.

Back To Top
The Good
Striking atmosphere that chills the heart
Excellent, poignant moments that stay with you
Cold, gruesome deaths are presented with memorable and horrific apathy
Introduces more involved puzzles at a satisfying pace
The Bad
The most haunting imagery is limited to the first half
Ending doesn't emerge organically from the hour leading to it
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for LIMBO

About the Author

Kevin played Limbo twice upon its initial release on the Xbox 360, and once more on the Xbox One for the purposes of this review. It took him about two hours this time around, in part because he got stuck on one of the late puzzles.
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smiracle73

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Truly great game, I just played it on the PS4, and couldn't have been more moved by it. It's one of those games that sticks with you for more than just the game play. The only game that has ever had a real lasting impresssion with me like this was Bioshock: Infinite, and I don't think that game can come close to what Limbo is to me. I can't believe it took me six years to experience this, but so glad I did.

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Ezioprez9709

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Game is terrible.

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smiracle73

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Edited By smiracle73

@Ezioprez9709: You are definitely the exception.

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Ezioprez9709

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@smiracle73: I'm happy with that. If you like it, that makes me happier.

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andfx8

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@Ezioprez9709: LOL why?

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Ezioprez9709

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@andfx8: The game is littered with trial and error. For example, you can walk a few feet to the right and all of a sudden you'll die in one hit without warning. I don't mind traps in games, but the traps in Limbo feel so obstructive. They get in the way without providing any challenge. They're only there just so the game can taunt you some more.

Graphics look awfully dated. It's another generic 'atmospheric' game that tries but fails to set the mood properly. There is no content other than a criminally short 'campaign' that will take you about two hours to finish. I never bothered to torture myself for that long though.

I can understand why people like certain games. Opinions are powerful things. Games such as Ocarina of Time, Uncharted and Halo are understandable for me. Limbo, however, is a mess of a game that I can't wrap my head around. After twenty minutes of playing, I wondered if I even had the right game. Lots of people hold it in high regard, but unfortunately it didn't go down well with me. I even wrote a review of it on my profile. Spoiler alert: it got a score below nine.

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andfx8

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Edited By andfx8

@Ezioprez9709: This game to me is a puzzle/platformer, and I wouldn't compare it the likes of a AAA action game like those you mention above. Obviously, an "arcade" title shouldn't be compared to Zelda, Halo, etc., especially when they come at a fraction of the price. I downloaded the game for free and have gotten through about 75% of it; it's a welcome break from shooters.

It seems you are referencing the traps in the earlier stages of the games, which I quickly learned to avoid. The traps are later placed in levels as a means to dispatch enemies, which plays to the puzzle nature of the game IMO. Later on in the game the areas/puzzles get more detailed and don't rely on simple "don't step here" gimmicks. While some might see games like this as "torture", some (like me) can find satisfaction in overcoming each new obstacle. This game reminds me of Braid, just with less story.

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Ezioprez9709

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@andfx8: When I mentioned the AAA titles, I wasn't really comparing the actual games with Limbo, just the fact that they have large fanbases. I'm aware that Limbo doesn't exactly have as much fandom as those games but it received high scores just like the aforementioned AAA releases. The sad thing is, I got it for free too when I was a PS Plus subscriber, and I deleted it the day I downloaded it. While it's sort of a break from the usual action games, it's still not a fun game to play in my opinion. Fantastic ideas are only fantastic when they work.

The traps started to become annoying early on for me. Not because they were hard, but because they came in abundance. There was no variety when it came to obstacles. Why couldn't other things be monuments or landmarks of the world that we're in instead of the same damn trap every time? Because of this, there was nothing to look at in the twenty to thirty minute session. It was like I saw the whole game just ten minutes in.

Thing is, I like these kind of games. I've been looking to get ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and other examples for awhile now. Those games interest me. Unfortunately, Limbo was a resounding disappointment for me. As soon as I booted it up, I had a feeling that I was going to be amazed by what the game had to offer. Then, I got to play the game. Maybe Braid will be a better option for me, who knows...

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TheBigWorm220

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Does this version of limbo have the secret room you could get to by collecting all of the hidden objects. Or is that still a Playstation exclusive area?

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zaxevil

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it's been a long time since i've played this game. in this genre, this is the best one after child of light.

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jenovaschilld

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Kevin, while your review of this game ported to xb1 may or may not be needed the only important question was not asked, "what is-- : what is new, what is different, what is better or worse"

You could have easily just said - here is the link to Limbo when it was first reviewed. If there is or is not changes - they should have been pointed out, that is the deal you have with us gamers. You review the games- we come to your sight, see ads, you make money.

Have always loved your reviews but this is .. nothing.

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turok0

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this game is extremely overrated

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RustedTruck650

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This game is extremely boring. How in the world did it score an 8?

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andfx8

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Edited By andfx8

@RustedTruck650: It's a welcome break from my faced-paced shooters, something I can relax to and play

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Gelugon_baat

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@RustedTruck650

Name one game which you like, and someone else will call it boring.

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skiggy34

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Another Home run for the xbox one console... Damn what was the last game to score below an 8 on xbox one???

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TigusVidiks

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@skiggy34 another re-release from an old game, already present in many other platforms.

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labub_007

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@skiggy34 ryse maybe!!

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NinthFall

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@skiggy34 so?

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Naquada

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@nl_skipper @Geogyf I don't think they were pointing out that it's the *only* source of value, and it is a very valid metric.


I beat Ryse: Son of Rome in about 4 hours. I can tell you for absolute certain that it wasn't worth $15/hr.

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calvinsora

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I absolutely love Limbo - no game on the PS3 (which I played it on) came close to the feeling of sadness and dread Limbo possessed IMO. The soundtrack is also ace, surprisingly good (albeit slightly depressing) study music.

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Geogyf

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For anyone who wants this game:


Please know that this game is very short in duration, and you will finish it very quickly.

For my part, I finished it in 3 hours only.


So consider its very short duration in corellation to its price.


PS: I bought it on steam for 2 euros, so for me the price was adequate.

But for everyone else, heed my words. The game is very short.

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Zombie8814

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Edited By Zombie8814

@Geogyf Yeah it was short, but it was great while it lasted. I'd rather play a short game that's good, than a long mediocre game.


I don't even play games like Dark Souls because they are way too long. 100+ hours single player playthrough. I just don't have time for that. And even if I did have the time, I wouldn't want to invest 100+ hours in any game. I get board of the same game at around the 12 hour mark.

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NL_Skipper

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@Geogyf Ugh I hate that kind of "game length is the only source of value" kind of mindset... there is so much more to a game than simply how long it takes to complete. Around $4 is a ridiculously low price even for a 3 hour game.

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Banyek

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what year is this???

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001011000101101

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Best soundtrack in the history of gaming. It's so pure.

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smiracle73

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Edited By smiracle73

@001011000101101: I bought it the week I played the game. It's minimalist, but so haunting and perfect.

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Geogyf

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Edited By Geogyf

@001011000101101 lol?

its almost non-existent.

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001011000101101

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@Geogyf @001011000101101 Uh, no? There's plenty of droning ambient music in that game. Look up the soundtrack, it's gorgeous.

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@001011000101101 @Geogyf it's super understated, but it's there in the background adding to the ambiance

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@Kevin-V @xantufrog ah, you're right I missed that. Anyway, thanks as always - hope folks find the review useful

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ahpuck

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I still have no idea how I solved a couple of the puzzles in this game. All I remember is pulling stuff, pushing stuff and all of a sudden I was on the other side. Kinda like Guacamelee, you try and fail so many time, when you manage to make it to the other side you don't ever want to do it again. I played Limbo once, I'll never do it again.

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NTM23

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Edited By NTM23

@ahpuck Limbo isn't very tricky, and Guacamelee certainly wasn't. Try Braid, or even The Swapper, which is much more difficult...

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NP3trOp

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Pretty good for an indie game. Just wish there was a little more to the gameplay.

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Unreal849

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Even better when it's free, lol

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Glen_Runciter

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@xantufrog @Glen_Runciter oh no, I'm totally not hating indie games, it's just there might be a bit of an overload of them right now, with some people playing them on the back of their pretttty high horses...

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horizonwriter

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@Glen_Runciter @xantufrog I think indies are getting much more press theses days more so than there being an actual overload of them. It's really an odd complaint since they're not taking anything away from AAA titles or the devs that make them. They just exist as much cheaper options to spend your free time with.

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@Glen_Runciter @xantufrog I gotcha

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

I agree absolutely with the pros and cons. The game is quite good, but falls off towards the end. I would add, though, that some (many?) of the puzzles rely more on trial and error than "puzzling". But it's a good game to be sure - so atmospheric

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Kevin-V

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Edited By Kevin-V

@xantufrog I did mention that in the text, actually.

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Glen_Runciter

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Edited By Glen_Runciter

don't you think we've had quite enough of indie games that look just like this?

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@Glen_Runciter this is an old game being re-released, so if it looks familiar... it's probably because you saw pictures of this same game in 2010. Still, it's a good game - I don't understand the indie hate. "Don't we have enough AAA games that look like ___?", after all

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Alucard_Prime

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Very atmospheric and unique game....already played it on 360 but got it as a gift from MS on the XOne and it's still great fun the 2nd time around....hope to see some kind of sequel....we do get Ori Blind Forst soon which looks similar so at least there is that

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PowerDingALing

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It's better than Far Cry 4!!! I must get it!!!

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Gelugon_baat

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@PowerDingALing

I don't see what you can get out of this sarcastic remark other than a kick for yourself. :\

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PowerDingALing

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@Gelugon_baat @PowerDingALing Always there to replay to my comments... I'm not being sarcastic, can't I like this game better than Far Cry 4? It's fenomeal, a masterpiece, it sends Far Cry 4 home crying.

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Geogyf

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Edited By Geogyf

@PowerDingALing @Gelugon_baat Bobble Bubble was more phenomenal. Ofcourse Bobble Bubble was released 20+ years ago.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

@PowerDingALing

I don't think so. I think that you get a kick out of taking any - any - opportunity to bad-mouth Far Cry 4, no matter how appropriate it is in terms of humour.

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NTM23

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This game was okay to me. I played it a few months ago for the first time on PC.

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LIMBO More Info

Follow
  • First Released Jul 21, 2010
    released
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 9 more
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    LIMBO is a black-and-white puzzle platforming adventure.
    8.5
    Average Rating4166 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate LIMBO
    Developed by:
    PLAYDEAD
    Published by:
    PLAYDEAD, Merge Games, Microsoft Game Studios
    Genre(s):
    Platformer, 2D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Animated Blood, Mild Violence