Oddly, the game manages to be sinister while still remaining twee. Your character is just a little bobble-headed kid whose only abilities are to push, pull, and jump. You slouch when you stand and your hair flops over your forehead like a wet glove. Your expression is constantly wide-eyed and earnest, with your only visible features being big light-up eyes.
But Limbo really is more than a pretty face. The game is a series of immensely clever and tricky puzzles designed around the most minimal game controls. You get nothing beyond the basics. No hints or inventory. You get a couple of buttons and your wits, and then you're sent on your way.
Generally speaking you'll be dead within a minute of your next puzzle. The game expects you to fail often, and you will, but dying in Limbo is never a punishment. It's a necessary part of learning the rules of each puzzle, and each death scene is animated in such hilarious detail that it's really its own victory to watch.
Bear traps will litter the first few puzzles while you're still working out the basic controls of the game. They'll break the poor kid's limbs but you haven't lost out on points, you've just learned traps will move if you push them. Later on you'll be hunted by locals with blow darts and work your way through spider dens. You'll realise you can't control the direction of your character when a worm burrows into your brain. You'll learn that the kid can't swim when you hit the water puzzles.
Death never means restarting a level; it means you get a decent clean slate as the game reloads the puzzle for you and gives you go after go, and animation after animation of watching your character impaled in various ways. Limbo does what few games of any genre can do, which is trial and error without any of the actual tedium. It's a puzzle game that is littered with ideas and an artistic eye, but more importantly it understands the frustrations of repetition and makes failure enjoyable.
VideoGamer.com Score9 Score out of 10
- Beautiful design
- Hilarious deaths
- Brilliant puzzles
- Baffling plot line