Limbo


This is a videogame almost entirely without words. The few letters that appear are so huge you can climb on them. They light up in intervals and electrocute you. Why am I saying you, when I mean him? Because it is he, not you, who dies over and over again; his tiny head flies off, his tiny guts fling out, his little body clumps broken on the floor. If he was you then you wouldn’t find it so amusing to watch his body break. He comes back and you do it to him again and again until you can proceed without killing him. His deaths are meaningless because they are, of course, not real. But more importantly so because they are not death (singular, final).
You see this world in silhouette and through various shades of misty grey. He sees the world through tiny, shining white dots. Is he a child? Is he human? The questions that occupy your mind come from a curiosity towards this strange place, but also from the precise movements and problem-solving required to explore it.
The mood is calm, but everything is hostile. Even water is hostile, as the Boy can’t swim. Other children set traps or shoot arrows into his skull. A giant spider pierces the Boy’s entire body with it’s long leg. Later, the same spider mummifies him in silk in order to eat him once his flesh has congealed. He hops away. A series of switches appear on the landscape that turn the ceiling into a floor. Gravity becomes like a knife: a useful tool that can potentially destroy you. The world literally turns upside-down, left, right.
The air in this place seems hazy, as if filled with gas. Surfaces are black like coal. The forest from which you watched the Boy wake up in seemed like it could be a real place, but the deeper you take him into the pit the more the world becomes its own environment, autonomous from representative reality and with its own rules and inhabitants. A glowing tube jumps from a pulsating plant into the Boy’s brain, taking control of the direction he walks in. It is terrified of sunlight, or what one might call sunlight in this colourless place. The tube seems to use the Boy for transport, like pollen uses a bee, and once the boy reaches another pulsating plant it releases him to join it.
The videogame world is not split into levels or compartmentalised. After the Boy dies (as he will often) the screen fades to black then fades up with the Boy standing before the obstacle that killed him. As the obstacles become more difficult to pass your mind becomes more occupied with problem solving. You sometimes repeat the same section over and over in order to execute the exact sequence of movements with precise timing. Then suddenly the Boy is thrown out of the world and time slows down as reality shatters. He is tossed onto a familiar patch of grass in a familiar forest. He looks dead. Then, in a manner similar to the start of the videogame, he gets up. You walk him to the right and the videogame takes over his movement. He finds… what? And there it ends.

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