Originally released three years ago in July 2010 for Xbox Live Arcade, Limbo has gone on to amass universal acclaim from gamers and critics alike. It was only a matter of time before Playdead brought their hit over to the shores of Apple. But as with any game that gets ported over to iOS, there’s always the potential for something to go awry. Maybe a different developer messes things up or perhaps the core gameplay just isn’t meant for a touchscreen device. Any number of things could get in the way. So how did this well-established indie fare in its port over to iOS?
For anyone who keeps up with video game news even casually, it should come as no surprise that one of the best indie titles you can play has managed to retain its pedigree while making the jump over to the App Store. In short, Limbo was not something to be messed around with. The port over was carefully done and it’s definitely something you want on your iOS device. That is, of course, if the game is up your alley.
If you’re not familiar with Limbo at all, you can probably tell from the screenshots what kind of experience you’re signing up for if you decide to download. Limbo is a dark, gloomy and atmospheric game that is not afraid to sit down on its punches. By that I mean — there are tons of ways the little boy protagonist can die. And die he will, because much of the way you advance through Limbo is through trial and error. So just be prepared.
Limbo is packed with tension-filled moments that can go from unsettling to downright shocking. The bleakness mixed with innocence reminds me a bit of an Aesop Fable or Grimms’ Fairy Tales, where you never knew what was going to happen next and often ended up surprised at how brutal things could turn out.
Case in point: the giant spider that’s following you around in the mist, ready to strike when you least expect. When you’re not busy avoiding that baddie, you will have to content with a veritable cobweb of pits, traps, spikes, saws and swings spread out over the game’s three distinct stages.
In terms of the gameplay, Limbo is not just a bunch of pretty and creepy set pieces tied around repetitive action. Instead, the gameplay is full of inventive platform elements and puzzles. There’s lots of new ideas and strategies that are consistently introduced as you make your way through, with each element feeling well-integrated with the surroundings.
The controls, while originally designed for a console, had the potential to be the biggest sticking point for the game. If they were off the mark, the resultant frustration could have easily ruined the immersion factor. But that was not the case at all. Limbo’s port over to iOS works smooth.
To make the boy run, all you have to do is swipe right or left. A swipe up will make him jump and holding the screen will let him grab onto different objects. The iOS version’s touchscreen controls more than get the job done.
Limbo’s visuals are unparalleled. The gameplay, while not overly complex and slightly less fine-tuned as its console cousin, is more than adequate. And the overall package is really quite solid. Playdead knows this and the price tag reflects that polish. But is Limbo worth it? Well, there certainly are no shortage of beautiful physics puzzle/platformers already in the App Store, but there’s not many that can match Limbo’s overall quality.