LIMBO first released way back in 2010 on the Xbox 360. I remember playing that game and being instantly raptured by…well…everything. I loved the incredibly minimalist art style, the foreboding music, the clever puzzles, and the relentless deaths. Today, LIMBO is out on 18 million platforms (this is a fact). And so, I jumped on the opportunity to review this game for my favorite console. This is our LIMBO review for Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: Code provided by the publisher for purposes of review.
Developed by Playdead, creators of the 2016’s INSIDE, LIMBO released on June 28, 2018, for the Nintendo Switch, priced at $10. LIMBO is a puzzler-platformer first released on Xbox 360 in 2010 sporting an insanely minimalist yet instantly recognizable art style. You play as a young boy waking up in a forest. There is a plot involving you searching for your sister, but honestly, it’s entirely secondary to the gameplay in my opinion.
Having played this on Xbox 360 and the PC, I was interested to see how this game translated to Nintendo Switch. To be completely transparent up front, I love my Nintendo Switch. The overall design, portability, and user experience are just so conducive to a pure childlike joy I’ve only ever experienced once before in consoles with Nintendo’s GameCube. In fact, after playing through LIMBO in its entirety, games like this are absolutely perfect for Nintendo’s latest console.
Playing in docked mode while lounging on my couch, only to then pick it up and play it in handheld mode is a novelty that will never get old. It’s a testament to both Nintendo and Playdead that LIMBO translates so seamlessly between both docked and handheld modes, and that it feels so organic while doing so.
Visually, LIMBO remains an incredible treat. While I’ve played other games that sport a minimalist art style, I’ve never played one that so absolutely nails it like LIMBO. The black and white style paired with a beautiful vignette and splash of film grain really come together to create a hauntingly beautiful visual package. Typically, I absolutely loathe film grain, but for some reason, it just works in LIMBO.
From the performance side, LIMBO plays at a buttery smooth 60fps. It just feels so sublime, and perfectly in line with other releases on Switch. Almost every single game I own for Nintendo Switch operates at this framerate, and Nintendo has a clear history of silky smooth 60fps first party games. LIMBO complements this perfectly. Not once did I experience a dip in framerate or dropped frames.
The sound design in LIMBO only adds to the isolation you feel while playing. In fact, I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this, and it’s incredible. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. The soundtrack and audio design in LIMBO is just truly awesome. The haunting tones contrast wonderfully with the distorted machines that menacingly approach you.
Every footstep, every chirp, every rockfall, every drip of water create a symbiosis with the score, both amplifying and simultaneously juxtaposing each other to create an atmospheric, isolating, and foreboding experience. At times, it is truly terrifying but serenely beautiful.
The gameplay itself is sublime. Honestly, that’s the best word I can use to describe it. From the moment you wake up in a forest and travel through it, eventually leaving it for an industrial park, the gameplay remains solid, challenging, and satisfying throughout.
The puzzles are presented to the player in a logical manner, trusting the player’s ability to reason them out. If you’re a newcomer, some of the latter puzzles may frustrate you, but honestly, just keep at it. Be patient. Think carefully, observe your environment, and you can reason them out.
Rather symbolically, death isn’t a punishment in LIMBO. It’s just another opportunity to learn from your mistakes so you can try again, progress further, and then die once more. As a gameplay mechanic, it’s used cleverly, harnessing death as a tool rather than a punishment. In other words, death isn’t a finality. It’s a repeatable inevitability.
All this — the visuals, the audio, the gameplay — combine together to create a truly atmospheric experience. You’re in a certain headspace when you play LIMBO. You’re not transported to other worlds like you are when you play Witcher 3, you’re not terrified out of your mind like you are in Resident Evil 7, nor are you along for the ride like you are when you play various Telltale games.
When I play LIMBO, I’m a slave to its atmosphere. I’m totally and completely immersed in the experience. It’s not about solving the next puzzle. It’s not about finding your lost sister. For me, LIMBO is 100% about the atmosphere.
You know my thoughts on review scores already, so here goes.
- Any other highly atmospheric minimalist puzzle-platformer