Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade Review: Limbo


Though it might seem a bit ballsy to lead off this year’s Summer of Arcade event with a game of such humble origins, “Limbo” is sure to become an instant favorite thanks to its resemblance to past XBLA titles like “Braid” and “Portal.” The 2D puzzle platformer doesn’t have much of a story, however, other than that you play a young boy who is searching for his sister in Limbo. At least, that’s what appears to be going on based on the title and the creepy surroundings that the bright-eyed boy awakes to, but even that’s a guess at best. All you need to know is that “Limbo” features striking visuals and an array of addictive puzzles wrapped in a minimalistic package of black-and-white silhouettes, an effectively non-existent soundtrack, and a two-button control scheme.

The gameplay may be simplistic (A jumps and B performs actions like pushing, pulling and activating switches), but it doesn’t make the actual puzzles any less difficult. In fact, they only get harder as you progress, and while many are challenging, some are downright impossible unless you’re willing to think outside the box. It can certainly be frustrating at times, but it’s only that much more rewarding when you do finally complete them. Playdead Studios has also done an incredible job of keeping the level design fresh and innovative, and although I missed the more immediate danger that came with the giant spiders and “Lord of the Flies”-like tribe of children from the earlier stages, the introduction of gravity in later puzzles really takes things to the next level. It’s just a shame there’s such little payoff in the end, because while the ambiguity of the story adds to the game’s eerie atmosphere, “Limbo” had the potential to be so much more.

Want more Summer of Arcade? Be sure to come back every Wednesday through August 18th for a first-hand look at Microsoft’s newest XBLA exclusive. Next week: hop into your powerboat time machines with the long-awaited sequel to Midway Games’ arcade racer, “Hydro Thunder.”


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