Left in the shade
A diminutive shadow boy walking through a monochrome world
Stylistically, Limbo is hauntingly beautiful Art House, favouring interpretation over lucidity. No story or explanation guides your journey. You're just a diminutive shadow boy walking through a foreboding, gloomy, monochrome world - silent but for occasional discordant orchestral notes and the ominous hum of far-off industrial machinery. It's a dangerous place where those age-old gaming conventions help navigate its pitfalls and puzzles. And where only curiosity and a vague hope of salvation compel your continued progress.
Banks can be helpful after all
Everything prevents your safe passage. Water is an ever-present danger for a shadow boy who can't swim, precipices for one who can't fly. Spiked pits and bear traps await mistimed jumps in the early forest level. And later, in the game's industrial setting, electrified floors, circular saws, machine presses and rapid-firing nails guns all kill in an instant.
But inanimate objects are Limbo's least unsettling hazards. Among the mist and pines of its forest lurk giant spiders, mind-controlling glowworms and - creepiest of all - a malevolent clan of eyeless shadow children, reminiscent of Lord of the Flies' biguns, who lure you on towards their mortal traps.
Its ability to disturb is not limited to hazards alone. The squelching and oozing as you pull the last leg from a dying spider might churn a stomach or two, but it's nowhere near as harrowing as the sight of another shadow boy wading calmly into a pool of water, bowing down his head and drowning himself.
Hanging out with the shadows
Each of your own shadow boy's deaths is, like the suicidal boy's, exquisitely animated and disturbingly silent. All too resigned to his fate, he doesn't so much as whimper as inky blood spurts from his dismembered remains, or as the light of his eyes flickers and fades from his pulverised body.
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