A child wanders through a dark, silhouetted world, solving deadly puzzles along the way. One wrong move and he's butchered by a bear trap or impaled by spikes, or even becomes the latest meal for a family of gigantic spiders. I don't care what anyone says, Limbo is as much an indie horror as it is an indie puzzle platformer.
I've been wanting to play Limbo for absolutely ages. I always thought it looked unique and mysterious, but never seemed to find it when I was ready to part with some cash. Then, in August, PS Plus saved the day. It was FREE. Sometimes good things come to those who wait (and are tight with their money).
Before I knew it, I was carefully making my way through the shadowy world of Limbo. The protagonist may be a child, but don't let that fool you, the game is pretty brutal. Alongside bear traps, spikes and child-eating and stabbing spiders there are also hostile tribes, booby traps, and a whole lot of drowning. Don’t forget the brain-eating larvae either.
If you walk under one of their nests, which you frequently have to in order to progress, they latch onto the top of your head. Understandably, this affects the boy's control over his own movements, and adds a whole new level to puzzle-solving. For example, once a larvae is attached the player is only able to control the speed at which the boy moves, not the direction that he chooses to go. This means carefully planning the environment around these areas if possible so that the poor child won't suffer any further harm under the control of the larvae. The aim is to stay alive long enough to reach another creature that eats the maggot, and frees the boy's movement once more.
There's no hand-holding in Limbo whatsoever, so some of the puzzles can be quite difficult. Using a bloody form of trial-and-error is often the best way to figure out the solutions, so expect to die a lot. I like to think the macabre world where these deaths occur make up for it somewhat, so it’s never too frustrating to replay an area in order to do things right.
If you haven't played Limbo before, I'd say to give it a go (even if you have to pay for it!) It's not always easy, but the frequent deaths quickly become part of its gory, off-beat charm. Less charming are the humongous spiders, so keep an eye out. There's more than a few shadows for these eight-legged monstrosities to be hiding in.