Superliminal (PC) Preview

By Nikola Suprak 18.11.2019

Review for Superliminal on PC

It is hard to develop a new puzzle game. Looking at some recent releases in the genre, it almost feels like all the good ideas have been used. A lot of new titles will just put their spin on the same sort of puzzles everyone has seen before, so when something truly unique comes along, it is worth standing up and taking notice. Superliminal is one of those example. Its fundamental gameplay mechanic is something that hasn't been seen before, and that plays with perception in such a simple, yet clever way that it is almost surprising there haven't been more like this. Cubed3 recently got its hands on the demo build of this very promising title… so, here's what might be the next big thing in puzzle gaming.

Superliminal is a game about dreams. Possibly nightmares. In this early build, there seems to be something unsettling just beneath the surface. Everything looks clean and medicinal, and a nice voice tells the player about dream therapy. Everything seems like sunshine and puppies and like this is just going to be a nice friendly puzzler - but things quickly start to get a little weird. Between the puzzle rooms are these bizarre hallways of darkness. Something doesn't seem quite right, and this is a feeling echoed by the launch trailer and preview videos published by the developer. There are only fragments of a possible story in the demo here, but things could get interesting depending on how things proceed.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

What's really interesting, though, is the gameplay. Have you ever brought a small object close to your eyes to make it look huge? Now imaging dropping that object and having it become exactly as big as it appeared when you were holding it. That is the central conceit of Superliminal, where playing with perception can affect reality. Large objects can be made small, and small, common household objects can become enormous platforms that can be used to get up to levels and areas that were unreachable before. Playing around with objects, moving them back and forth, and altering their size, can be used to change the layout of the room, and will be utilized to move on to the next area. This is essentially made up of a series of small puzzle rooms, and in order to get from one to the next it is imperative to alter your perceptions in order to change the reality of the room.

There really is only one element to the gameplay here, which is picking things up and having them change size. At the same time though, it is a great mechanic to build a game around and the things this has the player doing in the demo is really creative. In one room there is a Rubik's Cube, and picking it up will cause all the individual pieces to fall apart. Now, individual blocks can be picked up, moved around in order to make them look different sizes, and then dropped on the floor to becomes a variety of sized blocks. These can be used as platforms to reach a ledge above that was inaccessible before, and it is this really fun, organic sort of puzzle that just makes sense without the game going into any sort of long arduous explanation of what needs to be done.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

What is great about this, other than the originality, is that it is such a fun concept, and is the sort of puzzler that is almost unforgettable. This is the kind of game that comes back to you while you're on a train, to the point where you're going to be envisioning things becoming different sizes and visualizing these as platforms just like in here. The demo is short, but the puzzles here are a lot of fun and this demonstrates how it is going to use this core gameplay mechanic almost perfectly.
What remains to be seen is how far this can take Superliminal.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

The demo is short and it uses the central concept here really well, but at the same time what remains to be seen is how far this can get the game. Here, large barriers can be made small to reveal a doorway and small objects can be made large to press a switch or make a platform, but then the ideas this has seem to just about run out. There are still plenty of clever ways to use this gameplay idea, but it isn't entirely clear how creative the end product will be with them just yet.

There is a ton of potential here, but there is also the probability to fizzle out and become a sort of one note puzzler that never learns how to use its brilliant core gameplay elements in the right way. Whether this title revolutionizes the genre, or becomes just a flash in the pan will rely entirely on how clever the puzzle design is. The ideas here are good, so hopefully they can build on them to make a fully-fledged puzzle adventure.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

Final Thoughts

Superliminal has a supremely unique gameplay mechanic, and there is tremendous potential for this to be the next big thing in the genre. If it nails the puzzles, this is the kind of game that can be the next Portal. It seems almost deceptively simple, but it's the kind of puzzler that's going to wiggle its way in your skull and stay there until you're "seeing" the puzzles everywhere. Superliminal just recently received a full release on Steam, so it will be soon shown whether this is something that managed to live up to its massive potential.

Developer

Pillow Castle

Publisher

Pillow Castle

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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