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Limbo, as stated in the dictionary, is the term for a piece of Roman Catholic Theology. The border of hell or heaven, serving as the after death of unbaptised infants and of the righteous who died before coming of Christ.

Well now many will know it as a wonderful but darkly game on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade service. It is worth saying right now, that Limbo is wonderful and should be must buy, because if you have yet to play it, then do not yet read this review. You are best going into the game knowing as little as possible. It is 1200 Points, it looks stunning and will give you a balanced and testing time solving the puzzles that await.

If you have decided to read on, then you have either played the game, or you really need convincing. Limbo is a physics based, platform puzzle game, that if it has to be likened to any game, it would be most like Braid purely because of the platforming and puzzle mechanic. The games protagonist is a young silhouetted boy, who awakes to find himself alone in what appears to be deep in the woods. That is it, the is no obvious clue as to why you are there, or what you have to do. Instinct tells you that when you can start moving, you move from left to right until you come to an obstacle.

That right there is the basic premise of the game, you move almost constantly left to right solving various physics based puzzles as you go. None of the puzzles seem overly taxing, yet each one feels like it has been created to just about test the grey matter just enough that you will need to survey what is ahead, but know that the solution is also, almost always fairly obvious. The few times you will get stuck, something will click sooner rather than later, you’ll solve it and move on.

So then, the game isn’t the most difficult in the world and it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a story line. So what does it have? Atmosphere, bags and bags or atmosphere. Limbo, is absolutely dripping in the stuff, the visuals, the sound, the puzzles themselves and the times you do share the screen with other characters, every part of this game has been made with the goal of surrounding you in an atmospheric world.

The colour scheme is black, white and shades of grey, with no flashes of any other colour at all. It is this design decision that gives the game a very unique look and feel, it helps keep the atmosphere eerie and involving. Everything you with the character is on a single 2D plane, but with various different depths for the backgrounds and foregrounds, the game looks like a fully interactive diorama. Of course visuals are nothing with competent audio and what you hear is every bit as atmospheric as what you see. There is a low sounding score that accompanies the game throughout, one that keeps you immersed in the game. It is when something dramatic happens that the audio comes to life, usually accompanying an untimely death. The sound of things falling, crashing, breaking, snapping, crawling, all add to the atmosphere perfectly.

Death is something you will get used to, especially on your first run. As said earlier the puzzles aren’t overly taxing, but you will find yourself on the end of some rather disturbing and dark ways of seeing your life end. Luckily the checkpoint system is fairly forgiving, more often than not, finding your last checkpoint set just a few steps before you died. The checkpoints had to be spot on really, as the game is literally one long constant level. There are no easy, medium and hard levels to choose from. There are no loading screens, no cut scenes, nothing but you and the world you are in. You move from one end of the world to the other in about 4-5 hours and to be perfectly honest, if it wasn’t set up like this, then the atmosphere wouldn’t have half the same effect as it does.

The game may well seem fairly short, but there is replay value to it. Look at your completion score when you reach the end and it will likely be between 75-90% complete. That is because there are a number of hidden objects scattered throughout the game that you will need to find to increase that completion level and when you know how to solve the puzzles, further play-throughs will not take half as long, which is just as well, when you are chasing the ‘complete the game in one sitting with five of less deaths’ achievement.

Dark and disturbing is something that is a running theme throughout Limbo, it isn’t a nice game, it isn’t one that will leave a smile on your face but it is engrossing and it will have you suckered in from start to finish. Then from start to finish again and then again. The start of the Xbox Live’s Summer Of Arcade couldn’t be any darker.