I recently finished Limbo, one of the outstanding games from my backlog. The journey throughout the entire game was fascinating. The way the game refuses to hold your hand, and let you feel the game out for itself. Meanwhile, at times throwing hidden traps that can serve as a cheap scare, and lead to all sorts of trial an error, without becoming repetitive and frustrating speaks wonders. Throughout the game, I constantly drove forward wanting to pass each obstacle and puzzle thrown my way.
Although Limbo featured great puzzles throughout that teach you through experimentation is great, but the area that really stands out are the last set of puzzles before the end of the game. Here, a new element is introduced, and that is gravity. There are switches you hit that activate magnetic fields that can either cause objects around you to levitate to the ceiling, or also cause your character to walk on ceilings.
I love puzzles that shift the way the environment works, and work to really bend your mind and have you come up with creative ways to get passed them. You think that maybe if you try this one thing, it may work, even though there’s quite a bit of doubt in your mind. But once you literally make those leaps of faith and finally succeed, man it’s so rewarding. In comparison, dungeons from Zelda typically feature these elements, especially the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild. What I was not expecting thought was Limbo to implement these forms of puzzles and take them to the next level.
SPOILER ALERT: For those wishing to experience the puzzles for themselves, turn back now, as I’ll go into detail of the fascinating solutions for each.
I really wanted to run through these through screenshots, but there’s so much in movement here, I’m going to use videos to showcase what I loved, starting with…
Chapter 32 – 1:46 – As you exit the cart, you hit a switch, which again turns out the light, leaving you with just a single light up top swinging back and forth. It briefly illuminates the path ahead as it periodically swings back and forth. The literal twist here is that the stage is rotating. So every time the light sways back and forth, the new placement of the platforms ahead becomes apparent. It’s quite fascinating, because the light shows you a boulder that is not yet a threat. But as the stage rotates, it quickly becomes obvious that the boulder will eventually follow behind you, and you need to quickly get across the darkness to avoid being crushed.
Chapter 33 – 3:35 – Here, there is an out of reach ladder you need to get to. The key is to get one of the blocks on the lower platform near the ladder, so you can use it as a boost to reach it. On the lower platform is a button that activates a magnetic field that brings the blocks to the ceiling. The neat solution that wasn’t so apparent to me at first was to use the second block, push it up the slope to the right, and let it slowly slide down. While it’s sliding down, you get the first block into a position where you can climb back up to the first platform. By the time you have climbed up, the sliding block from before presses the button activating the magnetic field, bringing the first block to the ceiling above you. As the magnetic field turns off, the block drops near you and you are able to move it near the ladder the climb up instead of having the block fall back down to the lower platform.
Chapter 34 – 6:16 -This is a pretty involved puzzle that covers a huge area. I want to focus on one small part of this puzzle. Here you encounter a wall near a switch. By pressing the switch, this turns off a magnetic field, and a block drops from the ceiling and slides down. You need to get this box on your side of the wall to complete the other part of the puzzle. The neat trick here is when the box falls from the ceiling, it starts sliding down the lower slope. While that’s happening, you activate the switch again, levitating the block. Because the block starts levitating as it was sliding, it has some momentum to keep it moving your direction. The solution here is to press the switch continuously at the right pace, not letting the box make contact with either the floor or the ceiling, it peacefully floats over the wall near you. I loved finding this out. Such a practical and elegant solution to the problem.
For the next puzzles, we will continue with the following video.
Chapter 37 – 0:25 – This puzzle is quite incredible. It takes the switch controlling gravity element, and places switches in mid air. The idea is the switches are placed over gaps you need to cross. As you jump, you are meant to hit the switch, changing the direction of gravity, pulling you to another platform that you can safely cross. By watching the video above, you’ll see the player jump and hit the first switch, lands on the sign. However a saw blade appears forcing you to make a second jump and requiring you to hit another switch that will make you land on the top of the same sign. Yet that platform is electrified in brief stints, so this all needs to be timed ever so perfectly. Take a look at the video, explanations don’t do it justice.
Chapter 38 – 1:10 – Here, you are once again required to use switches suspended over gaps and require you to jump to activate them. This time, blocks are now involved. This one keeps ramping up the complexity of these puzzles. As the switch is activated, a block appears. You need to slowly move the block to the right to climb over the wall. Because the switch only stays activated for so long, you need to continually move back and keep pressing the switch so you can get back on the ceiling and keep moving the block until you are able to climb the wall.
Chapter 39 – 2:35 – The grand finale. This puzzle took my quite some time to nail. The solution was quite easy to figure out, the timing is another story. The twist here is there is gravity continually switching between pulling you to the floor and the ceiling. This switches after a set time. The idea is, you wait for the gravity to pull you to the ceiling. Then jump and activate the switch. Upon activating that switch, you then move towards the right side of the screen. If timed right, the gravity switch will occur, pulling you towards the floor. As this happens, you use the combined downward and rightward gravity pulls to move around the gigantic saw blade and proceed through the opening below it, leading you to the ending of the game. This was an amazing puzzle as it required amazing timing. It was tough to nail the right time to jump. Often times, the timed gravity switch did not occur when I wanted it to, so I ended up being dragged into the saw blade over and over.
I simply loved the end sequence of this game. These puzzles were incredible and really forced me to think my way through them. Although I died many times, the game never was frustrating. Once I figured out each and everything solution, I was impressed by the mix of complex and simply elegant solutions that were present. This ultimately lead to such a satisfying conclusion by being able to overcome the wit of the game and feel like I had outsmarted the world of Limbo.
What are you thoughts on Limbo’s puzzles? Did you enjoy them? How did you fair on the gravity world bending puzzles? Let’s discuss in the comments!