Since it’s release on PC back in 2011, this is a game I have been looking forward to playing. As you can imagine, I was very excited when developer Playdead announced they would be releasing the game multi-platform. Once I started playing I couldn’t stop. I was completely hooked with its unique-style graphics and simple but engrossing gameplay.
The game’s description on Steam doesn’t give you much of a clue to what Limbo is about – ‘Uncertain of his Sister’s fate, a Boy enters LIMBO’ – and while playing Limbo, I realized that ultimately the plot remains unexplained. Despite the loose ends, you will enjoy this game a lot. There’s a reason why Limbo is one of the most popular indie games out there and this stays true on the Mac.
You begin the game by taking control of a nameless boy who wakes up in the middle of a forest. From then on you must progress through Limbo’s Mac version completing a number of puzzles, which, although sometimes frustrating, once completed give you a sense of achievement; believing that you are one step closer to finding a clue to the storyline.
Limbo is a 2D platform puzzle game which brings many new elements to the genre. With no opening story, cutscenes or even voice narration, Limbo gives the player bare minimal information as to what the game is about, or what is to come. Throughout the game, I had no idea what was going on, or why I was doing anything. All I knew was that I had to find the boy’s sister. To top it off, the end of the game provides a scenario which, although adheres to the game’s title, only adds to the confusion.
You control the boy with the arrow keys to move and jump, and you can move objects using the ALT key.The game doesn’t let you change the controls, but you can still use an external controller if the keyboard is not for you. For me, however, the keyboards controls worked well, especially with this style of game.
There is a huge variety of puzzles in Limbo, making it feel less repetitive. Although most of the puzzles at the beginning are mainly just single step affairs, some can be quite rewarding. As you progress, the puzzles do become more challenging. Death springs from many unexpected places throughout the game, but this is not much of a problem as there are plenty of checkpoints along the way. These allow you to instantly respawn not too far from where you died so you can quickly pick-up where you left off. It also means that dying in Limbo isn’t as frustrating as it can be in other games but rather encourages a trial and error style of play.
What I did find to be pretty creepy are the many ways your character can die. These include being eaten by a giant spider, getting crushed by a huge boulder or even having your head decapitated by a bear trap! While Limbo steers clear of blood and gore, these death scenarios are inventive enough to enhance the unsettling atmosphere.
The gameplay is simple, but not to its detriment and the absence of a storyline or narrative, and the eerie atmospheric tone ensures the game remains engaging throughout. While a bigger budget would have enabled developers to enhance certain areas, it wouldn’t necessarily have improved the overall game, as the indie “feeling” is an essential ingredient here.
It’s clear that Playdead is heavily influenced by Film Noir: the entire game is in Black and white. The graphics are by no means next-gen, but this was not the developer’s intention. Instead, they have taken a different approach and produced a dark and gloomy aesthetic that enhances the overall experience.
Visually, Limbo taps into numerous childhood fears. The boy encounters giant spiders and other large insects, which adds to the overall illusion of being in a nightmare. Although the music in Limbo is minimal, Playdead uses overly dramatic sounds to build on the unwelcoming feel of the game.
It has been noted in Steam that Limbo will not play on any Macs released before 2009. That being said, Limbo isn’t a very demanding game.
- OS: 10.6.3
- Processor: Intel Mac
- Memory: 1GB
- Hard Disk Space: 150MB
- Video Card: 256MB shared or dedicated RAM (ATI or NVidia)
- OS: 10.8.3
- Processor: 2.9GHz Intel Core i5
- Memory: 8GB
- Video Card: GeForce GT640M 512MB
- Unique visuals and atmosphere
- Easy controls
- Huge variety of puzzles
- Not much replay value
- No leaderboards to compare scores between friends
Without giving you a great story, the developers did a great job of making this game feel interesting and especially different. There’s a variety of elements that will prevent you from getting bored, but it is its specific art style and atmosphere that really draws you in. It’s also this art-style that will ensure Limbo will age very well. Overall, Playdead has done a fantastic job with Limbo and I can’t wait to see what new games they will have in store for us in the future!