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"Here I go on my mysterious, horrifying journey..."

File:Limbo 350 2162.jpg


Limbo is a 2-D puzzle platforming horror game by Playdead, an independent game studio based in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is their first game. It was originally released on Xbox Live Arcade, and was later ported with additional content to the Playstation Network and Steam.

The game's story is simple. You control a nameless young boy in Limbo, searching for his sister. There is no dialog or text of any kind. Just the boy and an incredibly oppressive environment. There are many deadly puzzles, challenges and traps that can get you killed. In many shockingly violent ways. A Gore Filter can make the deaths less grisly, but no less terrifying. When combined with the protagonist's limited moveset -- he's entirely unarmed and can only jump, push/pull objects (like boxes and levers), climb ledges, and swing on ropes -- Limbo's sense of helplessness and trepidation is intense.

Players draw many comparisons to Braid, another Xbox Live puzzle platformer that cost 1200 points at release, lasts about four to five hours on a first playthrough, has a unique art style, and says some interesting things about videogame storytelling.

Do not confuse with Limbo of the Lost, although that's pretty terrifying in its own special way. For the opposite of Limbo, there is Lucidity.

Tropes used in Limbo include:


  • Hundred-Percent Completion: If you finish the main game path without exploring too much you'll only receive a 75% or so complete rating. Finding the bonuses fills in the rest of the percentage.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Sawblades appear in this capacity later in the game.
  • All Just a Dream: During the final puzzle, the boy crashes into a magical wall and lies down unconscious in a forest. When you get up and can move again, you can move left, only to find more forest where the hazardous industrial world once was. To your right, his sister awaits, playing in the grass, as if your whole adventure was just a dream... Or Was It a Dream?
  • All Webbed Up: Happens to the protagonist in the early parts of the game. However, he can struggle free and move around with enough effort.
  • Badass Adorable: You, being a young child that can climb ladders, jump from rope to rope, and deal with gigantic insects even when you can't fight them directly.
  • Bear Trap: Guaranteed to be your first death. It won't be your last.
  • Blackout Basement: Some areas indeed have inconsistent lighting. In fact, some of the secrets are in complete darkness.
  • Book Ends: The scene you see in the main menu is in the same location as the last scene in the ending.
  • Body Horror: There's a glowing worm that burrows itself into your head and forces you to walk in one direction. Before that happens to you, you encounter other kids who are in the same situation; some are dead.
  • Bonus Stage: The PSN and pc versions have one if you collect all the insect eggs. Its entrance is past where the "Alone in the Dark" egg is found, and when you beat it you come out at the elevator underneath which you find the "Under Ground" egg. It's extremely long, dark, and difficult, and there are several places where you'll have to navigate by sound alone.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: The protagonist's eyes are like this.
  • Crate Expectations: Puzzle elements, to the point where you'll know a puzzle is coming up whenever you see a crate or box.
  • Creepy Child: The other kids you meet early on, some of whom try to kill you.
  • Dark World: Dark, dank, colorless, and very very scary.
  • Dead All Along: Never outright said, but very heavily implied.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The only time you see some color is when X is online or when you unlock an achievement, and that is only on the console versions. On Steam, even the Achievement pop-up is black and white.
  • Downer Ending: The boy finds his sister. Roll credits. The title screen fades in to the same area, but the player might just see resemblances between the final image and the title screen. See Fridge Horror.
  • Down the Drain: At least one of the sections of the game where you have to outrun water.
  • Eldritch Location: The entirety of Limbo with all its darkness, peril, cruelty of the residents, and the strange gravity levels near the end. You end up inside of it by mysteriously waking up in its forest. You leave it by somehow passing through a magical wall at the last gravity level.
  • Eternal Engine: A large portion of the game is spent amidst electrified rails, buzzsaws gear spokes.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The local ecology is doing its hardest to murder you, and boy will it succeed. There are parasitic brain slugs that will more than often cause a player to panic and then subsequently perish. There's a giant spider out to turn you into a shish kebab, spikes growing out of the ground. The only time the local plant-life isn't out to get you is when the other humans are. Particularly notable in that instead of having sentient inanimate objects in the usual style of the trope, you quite often end up killed by reactions to the way you change the environment. Break a load-bearing branch? The tree's coming down on you. Don't move out of the way of a platform when gravity is shifting it in your direction? Squish. Press a switch to release a box while you're standing under it? Hope you like that broken neck. Nearly all of the deaths in the last third of the game are impersonal in this sense, projecting a unique aura of helplessness to the proceedings.
  • Follow the Leader: The game is very similar in many ways to Lucidity, except the latter is Lighter and Fluffier, and colorful.
  • Giant Spider: The boss in the forest level.
  • Gorn: Touch a bear trap? You get snapped in half. Get hit with a buzzsaw? You get chopped to pieces. Get hit lightly? You get sawed in half with visible entrails. Get squashed? Sticky chunks stretch apart afterward.
    • You can turn on a gore filter in the options that makes the screen cut to black the moment you die, but it doesn't remove the sounds.
  • Gravity Screw: Final section of the game. First only items, then you too. A few sections earlier there is a rotational variation of it though.
  • Hailfire Peaks: The very last part of the game is a mash-up of many previous areas; forest, industrial, part of the hotel sign, and so on.
  • Hell Hotel: More accurately, limbo hotel. A section of the game takes place there.
  • Hope Spot: A few. Most notably the fake ending and the one in the secret level, where after a long and difficult trek dodging sawblades and other industrial dangers in complete darkness you come into a serene, quiet, and well-lit area. Then you're plunged back into the darkness and the machine guns open fire.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted constantly and brutally.
  • Interface Screw: When a brain slug drops on you, you are forced to run in one direction and you can't stop. If you run into a patch of sunlight, you switch direction.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The first third or so of the game is populated by what appears to be a Lord of the Flies-style tribe of evil children, who've set up traps (among other things) for the boy.
  • Kill the Cutie: You will die. A lot.
  • Leap of Faith: A couple of pits are designed to trick you.
  • Light'Em Up: Parasitic leeches hate direct light. They can be heard screaming as they force their victim to move away.
  • Lost Woods: The first area in the game is a dark, misty forest. Complete with a giant monster spider wanting to kill you.
  • The Many Deaths of You: So many.
  • Meaningful Name: The game was developed by Playdead.
  • Minecart Madness: A short section of the game.
  • Minimalism: Less is definitely more in this case. No dialogue, no exposition, no fancy controls, no color... and yet, this game wouldn't have nearly the atmospheric impact if it did have any of these.
  • No Name Given: The child protagonist.
  • Noodle Incident: The kid and his sister are dead. We find that out in the ending and title screen. But how did they both die and why is the rope ladder broken? maybe it's best we don't know.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Justified. This is limbo after all.
  • No Sidepaths No Exploration No Freedom: The game and puzzles are much more rigid than Braid. But secrets are still out there.
  • Off with His Head: Many things can cause this. Simple ordinary Bear Traps for example.
  • Le Parkour: While the boy doesn't do any of the fancy wall-runs or fence-hops, he does a fair amount of leaping over pits and ledge-climbing.
  • Personal Space Invader: Light parasites.
  • Post Processing Video Effects: Film grain.
  • Pressure Plate: Some of the buttons. A rather nasty trap early on has one apparent pressure plate actually being the safe zone for a huge smasher; hopping onto the depressions to its sides is what kills you. This would be less annoying if it wasn't right next to another identical trap where the thing sticking up is the kill-button.
    • Which of course leads someone who is Genre Savvy to realise that the second trap is likely the opposite.. making the Genre Savvy user consider that they probably know I know, so I should not step on the opposite, which then leads to I Know You Know I Know at which point most people just pick one and hope for the best. And die.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Glowing slugs may plop onto your head. They force you to walk or run forward--you can only control your speed, and whether or not you jump. They are sensitive to bright lights, however, and if you run into one, it will sizzle and force you to run in the opposite direction. There are some ceiling-dwelling critters that can reach out and pluck the brain slug from your head, but getting to them is the real challenge. When we first see the slugs in action, it's on another human who's being forced into a pool of water, to drown....
  • Puzzle Boss: A big spider.
  • Ravens and Crows: At one point you find a lone crow cawing while perched on top of a hanging cage. The hanging cage next to the one with the crow has a human corpse inside of it.
  • Recurring Boss: The first third or so of the game features repeat appearances by a Giant Spider. The first time you see him he's a Puzzle Boss, the next two times he's an Advancing Wall of Doom, and you finally defeat him in a Curb Stomp Battle.
  • Rise to the Challenge: One part of the game focuses the player to navigate through sections with rising water.
  • Scarecrow Solution: Not long into the forest level, you see some more of those dreaded spider legs poking out from a nearby tree--but they're a fake. The hostile humans in the area set them up to scare you away.
  • Scenery Porn: Breathtaking black and white worlds, combine with effective use of grainy filters, make for a beautiful experience.
    • Scenery Gorn: However, the scenario paints a very grim, hostile world, where no inhabitant is truly safe. Even your enemies.
  • Schmuck Bait: Everywhere, but in particular, the first third of the game.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: You are always shown as a silhouette with eyes . However, this does nothing to ease away the squickiness and horror of your many, many deaths.
  • Spikes of Doom: In some sections. And you're not the only one vulnerable to them.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In a large body of water, you drown almost immediately and sink like a stone.
  • Super-Persistent Predator/Determinator: The spider. It never gives up hunting the kid for as long as it lives, despite having only one leg in its final appearance.
  • Treehouse of Fun: Many of them can be seen. Though "fun" takes a whole different meaning.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay: In fact, the developer described it as "trial-and-death" gameplay. Chances are, on your first playthrough, that you'll die quite often while trying to figure out a couple puzzles. The best example of this is the pair of mechanical crushers early on. To avoid causing the first one to fall on you, you must step on the elevated square underneath it. For the second one, you have to avoid an identical square. There's no indication of the solution, other than dying and trying again. It is so easy to die in this game that one of the Xbox achievements for the game is a "no-death run" in which you're allowed to die up to five times and still get the achievement.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The kid is a child. A cute kid who is getting slaughtered by everything. Give it a few deaths and you'll be dodging the puzzles for his sake, not your own.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: After beating the game the player has the option of replaying any of the chapters. Kind gamers can enjoy their favorite puzzles over and over while helping the boy reach his goal. Sadistic players can see just how many different ways its possible to kill the poor kid...
  • Weather Control Machine: A somewhat nondescript machine early on makes it rain when activated.
  • Who Forgot the Lights?: Some parts of the game are not recommended to be played during daytime. It's that dark.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: When you turn on a weather machine, it starts raining so hard that the next portion of gameplay is devoted to avoiding drowning in the ever-rising water.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: A fair bit of the way into the industrial portion of the game, you will emerge in a small forested area, with the treehouse and the girl you were looking for--then a Brain Slug plops onto your head and forces you to run the other way. When you get back, there is no forest or treehouse...
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