As a platformer Limbo doesn’t do anything to break the mold but it has one thing going for it that sets it apart from other titles in its genre: atmosphere. Taking queues from predecessors like Ico and Lost in Shadow, the player navigates a nameless boy through the monochromatic landscapes of purgatory in search of his little sister. On the surface it sounds like a meager plot–in fact, some critics have criticized Limbo for its anemic storyline and abrupt ending–but its the emotional connection the player has to this character that’s the ultimate driving force of this title.
At a time when most independent titles released on the Playstation Network or the Xbox Live Arcade were vying to be the loudest, fastest, most destructive games available, Limbo made a name for itself with its minimalistic visuals, ambient soundtrack, and simplistic gameplay. Not to say this game is easy. It is near impossible to predict traps before they happen due to its aesthetic, but I think that’s intentional, and watching its protagonist die in the most brutal fashion over and over again takes a gut-wrenching toll on the player. The mechanics of the game are simple: run, jump, reach, climb, and push, but it’s how the player interacts with the environment that makes all the difference. It is also noteworthy that the game gives no tutorial prior to playing. This only heightens the experience as players are left to fend for themselves in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
It’s amazing the notoriety this game has achieved in such a short amount of time. Despite being an independent game this gem managed to crack the top ten lists of 2010 for such publications as Time, Wired, and IGN. And as of 2011, Limbo is PSN’s best-selling independent game developed by a third party, has received critical acclaim from players and critics, and has sold more than a million copies across all platforms.