Limbo is really reminiscent of a bad dream

Limbo Box Art [Source: wikipedia.org]Limbo will likely forever haunt some part of my being.  It may not come to the forefront and manifest in me wetting my bed, experiencing night terrors, or jumping off of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but somewhere in a dark, dank crevice of my mind Limbo is making me very, very uncomfortable.

And that’s because there is something incredibly uncomfortable about not really knowing what is going on.  Is your character dead?  Is he alive?  Is his sister dead?  Are those kids trying to kill you your siblings?  Is that spider based on anything that actually exists?  These are all questions that are never answered throughout the course of the game.  All you know is that you are thrust into a world that is terrifyingly vivid and that everything is trying to kill you.  That is exactly why it strikes at the core of human fear of the unknown.

But revelations or narrative are not what you will take from this game.  It is (as cliche as it sounds) the experience of overcoming the challenges the game presents and traversing a nightmarish land that is absolutely beautiful in its portrayal of a nightmare.  From the claustrophobic feel of the forest, to the surreal feel of the game’s ‘city’, they all are instantly recognisable as places we are familiar with, which makes you feel all the more uneasy to see them as deadly and foreboding places.

The brilliance of the game is that the game evokes the feeling that you are the character on screen.  Like you are that little boy lost in a terrifying world where everything is the monster under the bed.  Like a child, you never really understand why you fear these things – the children trying to kill you, the maggots that take control of your body, or the spinning blades waiting to dismember you – but you wish you could just close your eyes and they’d disappear.  And for a grown man, experiencing that irrational, youthful and primal fear at something on a television screen is priceless.

Lying somewhere beneath Limbo’s simplicity is a depth that most people will never discover.   Not a word is spoken through the course of the game, but the game likely says more about life and death than a game full of thousands of words of dialogue ever could.  Simply put – Limbo is a masterpiece – albeit one that I may never fully understand the full meaning of.

LimboSC

7 Comments

  1. The atmosphere is a masterpiece. Eerie is the word.

    But some of the puzzles are just frustrating, which forced me to give up some way through it. There’s one with pulleys and a cart which drove me nuts and I uninstalled it. Shame.

    1. Real shame, the game really begs to be finished if not for the brilliant final few gravity-defying minutes. Interesting that you had issues with some of the puzzles, where I did I found that the very few mechanics the game throws at you made it simply a matter of deduction to find the solution.

  2. The thing from Limbo that I will remember forever is The Spider – I loved all the encounters with him, the long fight and the satisfying conclusion.
    A fantastic boss in an incredibly atmospheric game.

    The city wasn’t as exciting for me, but there were some really cool set pieces there too.

    1. The spider was memorable (as with the entirety of the game, really), but the anonymous Lord of the Flies-esque kids for me were far more memorable if only for how distressing that concept is.

  3. I really enjoyed playing Limbo. Really clever puzzles, fantastic level design and the aesthetic quality of it is just…..*sigh*…..so perfect. This just shows, less is more sometimes 🙂 A minimalistic masterpiece. Great review! I blog about Video Games too, would love to hear your opinions!

  4. The atmosphere is amazing. I think it’s partly the quietness, somehow I found that more unsettling than loads of scary music. You’re right, it is a beautiful nightmare. Shame I didn’t get a chance to finish it. Also: the spider! Arghh!

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