Limbo for iOS is a spooky, and award-winning, indie puzzle-platformer, which first made its name on Xbox 360 and now is out for iOS. The touch-screen controls are spot on, making it a great purchase for any iOS device, but you might be left wanting more.
The storyline is both straightforward and mysterious, with only this line as an introduction from developer Playdead: "Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters Limbo." That's all you have to go on at the beginning of the game, but through trial and error, you'll quickly learn the swipe controls that make you run, jump, and climb over obstacles. Much of the game follows this trial-by-fire theme, so expect to fail many times before you solve one of the game's many puzzles.
The world of Limbo
What's immediately striking about Limbo, as you explore a dark, black-and-white, 2D world, is the art style of using only silhouettes for your characters and the monsters you'll come across. The world is backlit with a foggy, blurry backdrop, but you're still able to make out the various traps and objects that block your path forward. Limbo, while a platformer, is a puzzle game that requires you to figure out the best way to continue on, so there are plenty of objects you'll need to move into place (such as a platform for example), then use to get further along in your journey. But it will often take several tries to get past a puzzle.
Limbo starts off in a forest with obstacles like bear traps, giant rolling stones, and an early enemy that is a gigantic spider. But later you'll enter a crumbling city where the puzzles involve mechanical moving parts, switches, and gravity puzzles. Throughout the game, you'll often encounter a trap or be killed by a spider before you have any idea how to pass it. Don't be discouraged by all the dying, though; this game was made to be a trial-and-error type of experience, and frankly, seeing the grisly deaths is part of what keeps you on edge as you play.
Not just the art style
The graphics are the first thing you notice, but the sound is what pulls the game together. Even from the opening scene, you can hear the wind howling through the forest, and every step your character takes on the forest floor sounds incredibly realistic. Running through water produces realistic splashing sounds, breaking branches sound just as you would imagine, and the game's monsters send chills down your spine as they do anything to stop your progress.
For all that is great about Limbo, it has one flaw: it's too short. When it came out on the Xbox 360 in 2010, it received rave reviews for all that I mentioned here, but there was somewhat of a controversy about the ending. Without giving too much away, some critics said the game ended too abruptly, while others said it was the perfect length to fit with the overall mysterious ambiance of Limbo. For me, even with its short length, I think it's worth the money for its unique art and audio style for as long as the fun lasts.
In the end, Limbo is a perfect example of "gaming as art," and it's worth buying just to experience the dark and scary world Playdead has created. But if you get to the end too quickly and wish there were more levels to explore, don't say you weren't warned.