How far would you go to save someone you love?

The side scrolling monochromatic game Limbo, by game developer Playdead, begins as a young nameless boy searches for his lost sister – awakening to a darkened, decaying forest strewn with horrific deaths, traps and puzzles which never appear to be quite as they seem.

As the boy travels deeper into Limbo, the scenery shifts elegantly from secluded forest to a passing tribal village to an underground city of rampant mechanisms. The traps and puzzles divert as well to match their surroundings – trees, water, bear traps and arachnids give way to electromagnetic switches and gravity defying feats. Every puzzle within this journey comes with a painstakingly acute lesson…and a heavy price.

Unlike most games in the puzzle and problem solving genre, this one stands out from the rest. Eerily beautiful and horrifying both in visuals and sound, Limbo keep players on edge as they ever so warily (…or not so much, if you’re the more brazen, ‘I’m ready to die!’ type) make their way through the haunting atmosphere; eying each new challenge with enthusiasm and disdain. Additionally, players are not met with a secluded “get out of this room” kind of puzzle, but rather, each challenge fits into the journey’s succession – never once breaking the overall atmosphere.

Towards the beginning, the puzzles themselves range from simple timing exercises (jumping, dodging, activating sensors and switches) to basic box maneuvers; all of which represent fundamental concepts that will not only allow passage through the conflicts themselves but will also be instrumental in surpassing the challenges ahead if applied correctly.

If there is one thing to prepare yourself for on the first play through it is that death is inevitable; and you will be reminded of this lesson repeatedly. In fact, the developers actually classify this style of game play as “trial and death” as most traps are not entirely apparent until it is far too late. Luckily, you can die an indefinite amount of times to overcome the obstacle as there are no game overs and you simply reset to your most recent checkpoint.

From start to finish, the game can be played through in about 3 hours; however, just because a game is shorter in length does not mean it has less to offer. Aside from simply beating the game, if you are up for an additional challenge, try getting all trophies/achievements. One trophy in particular, called “No Point in Dying”, stands as a worthy challenge in itself as it involves completing the game in one sitting with five or less deaths. Let’s just say that I wish I had kept track of how many times I died my first play through; Unfortunately, all I can attest to is that it was more than five….way more.

With plenty of ways to play this title (PC/Xbox/PSN), there is hardly a reason not to give this one a try. It may not be your generic puzzle, horror or adventure title, but it is an intriguing experience that stands out none the less.

So leave reality behind, and take the first step into Limbo…

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