What life awaits after death? Most forms of expression, from books and films to poetry and philosophy, have taken turns pondering on it, and the maturing world of video games is no exception.
LIMBO, in spite of all appearances, isn't one of those games. The brief, downloadable video game for Xbox 360 appears to dwell in the afterlife—and beautifully so—with creepy inhabitants, a black-and-white aesthetic, absence of conversation, and balance of darkness and light. Yet the Danish title is most compelling because it speaks to the struggles of living with loss, not fading away into death; and it does so not with text, nor with musical cues, nor any concrete storytelling. You simply drop into LIMBO, and it forces you to find your own meaning through exploration, puzzle solving, and inhaling its lonely world along the way.
The game opens with a child's silhouette waking in a shades-of-gray world, himself all black save his tiny, white eyes. With no story as impetus, players immediately encounter forests, ponds, and caves (and strange foes within each), all rendered in 2-D with shimmering particle effects, as if LIMBO's entirety had been drowned in fresh, falling ash. Other than occasional tones and background effects, the sounds are as simple as the boy's feet plodding along grass, dirt, and hard metal, and the sound direction turns out far more colorful and organic than the fuzzed-out looks would lead you to believe.