Limbo is a puzzle-platform game developed by independent studio Playdead. The game was released on July 28, 2018 for the Nintendo Switch. Limbo is a 2D side-scroller, incorporating a physics system that governs environmental objects and the player character. The player guides an unnamed boy through dangerous environments and traps as he searches for his sister. The developer built the game's puzzles expecting the player to fail before finding the correct solution. Playdead called the style of play "trial and death", and used gruesome imagery for the boy's deaths to steer the player from unworkable solutions.
The player controls the boy throughout the game. As is typical of most two-dimensional platform games, the boy can run left or right, jump, climb onto short ledges or up and down ladders and ropes, and push or pull objects. Limbo is presented through dark, greyscale graphics and with minimalist ambient sounds, creating an eerie, haunting environment. The dark visuals also serve to conceal numerous lethal surprises, including such environmental and physical hazards as deadly bear traps on the forest floor, or lethal monsters hiding in the shadows. Among the hazards are glowing worms, which attach themselves to the boy's head and force him to travel in only one direction until they are killed.
The game's second half features mechanical puzzles and traps using machinery, electromagnets, and gravity. Many of these traps are not apparent until triggered, often killing the boy. The player is able to restart at the last encountered checkpoint, with no limits placed on how many times this can occur. Some traps can be avoided and used later in the game; one bear trap is used to clamp onto an animal's carcass, hung from the end of a rope, tearing the carcass off the rope and allowing the branch and rope to retract upwards and allow the boy to climb onto a ledge otherwise out of reach. As the player will likely encounter numerous deaths before they solve each puzzle and complete the game, the developers call Limbo a "trial and death" game. Some deaths are animated with images of the boy's dismemberment or beheading, although an optional gore filter blacks out the screen instead of showing these deaths.
The primary character in Limbo is a nameless boy, who awakens in the middle of a forest on the "edge of hell", where he encounters a giant spider who tries to kill him. After using a trap to cut off the sharp points on half of the spider's legs, it retreats further into the forest, and the boy is allowed to pass. However, he is later caught in webs and spun into a cocoon. After breaking free from the threads that attached him to the roof, he is forced to hop, and eventually gets them off. After a while seeking his missing sister, he encounters only a few human characters who either attack him, run away, or are dead/dying. At one point during his journey, he encounters a female character, who he thinks might be his sister, but is prevented from reaching her. The forest eventually gives way to a crumbling city environment. On completion of the final puzzle, the boy is thrown through a pane of glass and back into the forest. After he wakes up and recovers from the pain and shock, he walks a short distance until he again encounters a girl, who, upon his approach, stands up, startled. At this point, the game abruptly ends.