Soft Meat Reviews:
LIMBO is a 2D physics platformer and the first game in Microsoft's "Summer of Arcade" promotion. The games main selling point is its dark atmosphere. This dark atmosphere succeeds in making it stand out against other platformers, but that doesn't necessarily make it better.
The premise of the game is that you are trying to find out what happened to your sister. The funny thing is that you won't know that unless you read the description of the game when you purchase it, because the game itself doesn't tell you. As a matter of fact, it has virtually no story at all outside of the description and a short scene at the end so, if you were expecting an interesting story to go along with the art style, you may be disappointed. I don't think this is that big of a problem though, the game seems to work just fine on it's own.
As I said before, the main draw of this game is it's atmosphere and it's art style. The entire game is in black and white with the majority of the objects being simple black silhouettes. This gives the game a very dark feel. A blur effect given to the foreground, background, and outer edges of the screen (along with a light film grain) ramp up the creepiness even more. The brutal death animations, corpses lying on the ground throughout the game (sometimes even factoring into the puzzles), and dark figures hindering and, sometimes attacking you further hammer the dark tone of the game home.
As well executed as the atmosphere is though, it didn't really hold my interest. Nothing is really done to keep the atmosphere engaging. Arguably one of the scariest things in the game, a giant spider that stalks you through a forest, gets killed off in the first third of the game and isn't replaced by anything, thus removing the sense of urgency those first portions had.
The actual gameplay elements aren't really all that special, pretty much what you would expect from this kind of game; swinging on vines and ropes, using seesaws, and manipulating gravity. To the games credit, it does a good job of pacing the puzzle elements. You are constantly introduced to new mechanics all the way until the end of the game which helps keep the game feeling fresh, just don't expect to see anything that hasn't been done before. There are a few interesting puzzle elements, such as a parasite that attaches itself to your head and forces you to constantly move in one direction until you can find a way to counter it but, ultimately, I was disappointed by the puzzles in this game.
Another problem with the puzzle elements is that they rely too much on trial and error gameplay. Too often you are killed by a trap you didn't notice or a surface that you didn't know would kill you.
At one point, the game teaches you how to get past an obstacle, only to completely change the rules two seconds later. To be fair, the game is generous with its checkpoints so you don't lose much progress when you die, but it can still be very frustrating. I understand that the purpose of this unforgiving gameplay is you make you feel like the entire world is out to get you, but I just don't find that kind of gameplay fun.
Anyway, that's about it. There really isn't much more I can say about this game. It's only a few hours long and it doesn't have much replay value except Achievements that have you hunt down some hidden eggs and beat the game quickly with a minimum amount of deaths.
Overall, if this game where on sale for five or ten bucks, I might say it's worth it, but I think the current price tag of $15 is a bit much. A demo is available so you can try and see for yourself but, if I were you, I wouldn't waste my money.
Check out my previous reviews:
Batman Arkham Asylum (video)