Limbo

Common Sense Media says

Arresting imagery of an afterworld creates interactive art.

Age(i)

2
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8
9
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11
12
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

With no speech or text of any kind, this game is wide open to interpretation. One interpretation is that the protagonist is dead and forced to explore purgatory; a sad, decrepit, and desolate world filled with menace. Its themes, which include death, loneliness, and terror, are unquestionably mature. Players commit no acts of violence, but the violence that often occurs to our hero is not suitable for younger eyes.

Positive role models

The nameless -- and likely deceased -- boy who is the game’s protagonist is presumably good, though even that is left up to speculation since he never speaks or interacts with anyone. At the very least he must be remarkably clever to solve the game’s dozens of puzzles.

Ease of play

Players use only the thumbstick and two buttons, but achieving proper timing for jumps can be challenging and the puzzles are often devilishly difficult. Many players will likely need to look for help from friends, family, or a game guide.

Violence

There is no combat in this game, but the protagonist, a boy, encounters traps set by mysterious strangers as well as huge deadly spiders he must avoid. Death scenes are surprisingly gruesome, considering the entire game is rendered in grainy black-and-white silhouettes. Expect to see our young hero decapitated by bear traps and impaled on long spikes, as well as the bodies of other boys locked in cages and hanging from ropes. There are no screams, but black fluid can be seen pumping from our protagonist’s small corpse. The gore can be switched off in the settings menu so that the screen turns black whenever the boy is about to die.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Limbo is a very difficult puzzle platformer with mature themes and a surprising amount of gore, considering it’s rendered completely in greyscale. Though open to interpretation, the general consensus is that the story explores the notion of purgatory. Players don’t engage in combat, but rather try to keep their hero safe from myriad dangers, including huge arachnids and spiky traps. It’s clearly a game designed for older players, though mature teens may be able to extract meaning from the intense imagery.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

A side-scrolling platformer filled with mind-bending physics puzzles, LIMBO is the story of a boy who wakes up alone in a strange and menacing forest filled with perils including giant spiders, claw traps, and rickety structures. Everything is presented in grayscale silhouettes and has a graininess that recalls old films. The only sounds heard throughout most of the game are the boy’s footsteps, quiet ambient noises, and the occasional startlingly loud drone. It is in turn lonely, scary, beautiful, and arresting. The title suggests the setting is purgatory, though the world’s intense isolation and manifold dangers makes it at times frightening enough to be confused with Hell.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

On the one hand, Limbo is a brilliant puzzler. Players need to use objects governed by realistic physics to create avenues of progress. You’ll push logs, cause platforms to swing by running from one end to another, and even alter gravity. The conundrums are often bedeviling, but they always make sense.

Even more interesting than the brilliant puzzles, though, is the game’s wordless narrative. Setting, journey, objectives; everything about Limbo is open to interpretation. To discuss its vagaries here would taint the impressions of those who have yet to play, which would be a shame. However, you may want to keep these questions in mind as you head in: How did the boy arrive here? What is his purpose? What do his enemies represent? The game’s makers seem to have spent as much time contemplating the meaning of the experience as they have programming it. The result is a game that is thought-provoking, timeless, and evidence that interactive entertainment can be used as a means of smart artistic expression.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about artistic expression in games. Are games a suitable medium for communicating ideas? Does their reliance on rules restrict creative thinking?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Price:$15
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:July 21, 2010
Genre:Adventure
ESRB rating:T for Animated Blood, Mild Violence (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

This review of Limbo was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 16 year old Written byMyth1322 August 24, 2010
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Perfect for older kids, but not for tweens

This is an amazing visual game great for people who love plat-formers, but i do not recommend it to anyone 14 and under due to the graphic deaths scene that the player must go through. It is a game meant for adults and older teens 15 and up not for you 10 year old looking for a fun game to run around in
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 9 years old December 19, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

fun

blood shows deathtraps or monsters
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byTom_Gamer_Tom September 21, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Its funny how people don't complain about MW2 yet they complain about this.

This game is clearly violent yes, But its just a black figure getting decapitated in no detail at all. I see worse violence in Littlebigplanet for god's sake. Its not really bad at all even though the decapitation etc makes it violent. As i've said in past reviews. Its like a kids game compared to some PS3 games I've played.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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