With the relentless influx of unmissable games over the past few years, Limbo – originally released on the Xbox Live Arcade way back in 2010 – was left languishing on my ever-increasing Must Play list. Thankfully, its recent release on the App Store gave me good cause to catch up.
I only wish I’d gotten to Limbo sooner, as it’s one of the best things I’ve ever played – on tablet, smartphone or otherwise.
Interestingly, having now played Limbo to near completion (I’m well and truly stuck just minutes from the end), I can see how it’s influenced numerous other releases, including BADLAND, Year Walk and Fetch (all great games, incidentally).
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Limbo is a relatively straight-forward platform puzzler – at least as far as the mechanics go. See, despite the simple nature of the game, it’s incredible how it can threaten to break your brain.
On the iPad, you move Limbo’s protagonist left and right with an invisible virtual thingy in the bottom left, while swiping jumps. Tapping the bottom right acts as an action button for hitting switches and pushing/pulling, and that’s pretty much it.
How then, with that simple premise, does Limbo succeed in establishing itself as one of the greatest games of all time?
The answer is threefold. Firstly: style. There’s no clutter, no on-screen buttons or clocks or power-ups, no collectables, no map, just you and the simple control system. Brilliant.
Also on the style note, you’ll notice that Limbo is entirely black and white. It looks fantastic, and the animations (including that of a giant bastard of a spider – pardon my French) are top notch.
Looking good is one thing; great graphics do not a great game make, but thankfully Limbo isn’t a case of style over substance; the design (that’s your second element) is first class. The Limbo action is split into 40 separate puzzles, each more fiendish than the last.
I’ve spent maybe… seven hours with the game, but I reckon you could blast through it in half that if you knew what you were doing. Realistically though, expect to spend a lot of time staring at the screen and scratching your head. I lost count of the number times I sat thinking: ‘It must be doable. It must.’
Finally, in addition to the near-perfect style/presentation and design, is the creepy-as-hell atmosphere. There’s no explanation as to what’s going on, but the action takes place in a world full of hazards including electricity and razors, not to mention the mysterious inhabitants who regularly attempt to murder you.
You can also regularly expect to see people hanging in the background, and be prepared for beheading action too. It’s pretty out there.
Complaints? No, none that I can think of. Some of the puzzles do occasionally feel a tad obtuse, but the solutions are always surprisingly simple.
And that’s Limbo, well worth your £2.99. Go play it. Now.
Oh, before I leave you, I should also mention that Limbo’s requirements have been amended in the App Store description but not the actual requirements section. I’ve made the necessary adjustments below.
- First-class style and presentation
- Brain-melting puzzles
- The creepy atmosphere
- It might break your brain
Summary: Limbo is almost unanimously hailed as one of the best platform puzzle games of all time, and descriptions such as “genius” and “masterpiece” are entirely justified.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad 2 or later. Requires iOS 6.0 or above. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Price: £2.99 @ App Store