I know you probably already know about it is slow news day. The game Limbo came out recently.

I was able to play the game at this year’s IGF already. I haven’t bought it yet due to my backlog. But it is certainly an intriguing title. There are two things I like about it and one thing I’m not so sure about.

First, the I think visuals are really amazing. The black and white silhouettes are a bold stylistic move. But the game goes so much further. There are some very elaborate depth of field / vignette effects in play to create a breathtaking look. Additionally, the game features some of the most impressive dynamic animations I’ve seen for quite some time.

The second thing I really enjoy the gameplay. Games like Another World and Flashback belong to my favorites. It’s obvious that Limbo was inspired by them. The game is more about solving environmental puzzles than anything else. The puzzles often look very simple but turn out to be pleasantly challenging. And yes, you will die a lot.

Which brings me to my gripe. The game is excessively brutal. Your character is a little boy and the game puts him through a series of the most violent deaths. He is constantly being decapitated, impaled, crushed and eaten. The game seem to indulge in those moments by showing the death animations in excruciating detail. It feels very immature to me. Sure, I’ve seen a lot of violent deaths in games. But judging from the subdued look and feel I was expecting Limbo to be different. I was expecting it to focus on narrative value rather than such visceral effects. On the other hand, the brutality may have been an intentional tool to emphasize the vulnerability of the protagonist and the inhospitality of the environment the game takes place in. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that the game’s content doesn’t quite live up to it’s visual style.

In spite of this, I can totally see why the game was received so well at this year’s IGF. Especially the technical execution really is outstanding. If you haven’t played it yet, I recommend you try the demo on XBLA. Let me know what you think about the game’s brutality.

P.S.: Oh yeah and I find the Typography really horrible.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Limbo”

  1. Jorge Albor

    I hadn’t given it too much thought, but now that you mention, I think the violence is excessive. Since the game doesn’t aim to tell an explicit story, I’m not entirely sure the violence serves a purpose other than adding to the atmosphere – which is enough I suppose. Events I found distracting in particular were the length of watching the boy die (especially when being crushed) and the saws.

  2. Denis

    It may be me reading too much into it, but I definitely saw a reason behind the deaths and the slow animations and focusing on them. Of course, value of meanings and symbols in this game feels like they can go in every which direction depending on what inspirations you are seeing, and what you yourself are bringing to the game, so take that with a grain of salt.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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