Superliminal is a first person puzzle game developed by Pillow Castle and released on Nov 12, 2019 for the PC for a MSRP of $19.99.
Superliminal is a game that took me by surprise. It’s a fantastic puzzle game with an ingenious and clever mechanic combined smart level design. It’s on par with Portal 1 for me, which is one of my favorite puzzle games of all time. The clever game play is backed by a calming and magical piano sound track and soothing narration full of dry humor and wit. The greatest aspect of the game however, is how the game play, level design, and narration all mix together to reflect one common theme, that changing your perspective can lead to new solutions. This hit me pretty hard once the end level was revealed and I had to sit there and think about life for a while after the game ended. Games rarely have this impact on me and Superliminal is one of the few games that did.
The narrative is light but well done. It’s accomplished mainly by narration from two sources, an AI protocol much like Glados, and the other from a Doctor with a velvety voice overlooking your treatment. The narration is full of dry humor and wit and is frequent enough to provide breaks in the game play and act as transitions while not overwhelming you with dialogue. The game play and level design also tie into the narrative as everything reinforces the main theme of changing your perspective on things to find solutions as well as perception being reality. It’s not telling a story so much as trying to tell you a message. It may not be relatable to everyone but for me personally, going through some rough times, it hit a little too close home for me.
Game play is absolutely fantastic. This is a new mechanic that I have not seen before and it works fairly well and is intuitive and quick to pick up once you start playing the game. The core mechanic is based on interacting with and changing items by changing your perspective via the camera angle. The first mechanic you are introduced to is changing the size of items. You can make items massive by picking up an object close to you and moving far away from a wall as possible and dropping it. From the cameras perspective, it looks massive so it becomes massive. By doing the opposite, picking up an item as far away as possible and dropping it close to a wall or floor, it becomes rather minute. The game controls well and everything works smoothly.
The game is also designed well. It does a great job of foreshadowing future game mechanics by showing you examples in the level and how the levels are structured themselves. One such example is a corridor where you encounter what appears to be a chess piece at first glance. When you run up to it however, you find that it is a very long painting on the floor. You use this in later levels when you look at what appears to be random paintings from the right place and turns them into physical objects you can interact with. It’s almost as if you could grab the moon if you looked at it from the right angle…
The mechanics also evolve in creative ways as the game progresses, such as using shadows to create platforms, open up passageways, shrink your own size relative to the map, and so on.
The game never lingers on a mechanic or level, giving you enough so that it leaves you wanting more, but never overstaying its welcome.
The art is fantastic, and simplistic combination of pastel palettes that give you a feeling of comfort, security, and warmth, to dark and gloomy levels that give off a feeling of fear and anxiety. Each dreamscape has it’s own theme graphically as well as a game play mechanic it focuses on.
The music is a very calming, soothing, and magical piano sound track that ties in well with the game.
Overall, I not only enjoyed the game from just a mechanical perspective, playing around with the clever game play, it also had a profound and deep impact on me emotionally. I can’t really think of many games that accomplished this for me. Not only that, every element of the game ties together thematically, reinforcing the core game play mechanic, that changing your perspective often leads to new solutions. I’m not saying this game is perfect, nothing ever is, but it is one of the few games that managed to have such a deep impact on me. I finished the game in 3 hours and I recommend playing it through in one sitting. For me personally, I have no choice but to give it a
I highly recommend it. Ducky Obrien signing out.