Superliminal (PC) Review

By Nikola Suprak 16.12.2019

Review for Superliminal on PC

It is amazing how far a new idea can get a game. In this day and age, it is typical to see recycles and retreads and re-releases and all kinds of... re's you can think of. New ideas are hard, so when something genuinely new comes out, it is hard not to be excited. Superliminal has been hyped for some time, precisely of just how new and unique it looked in trailers. It is a puzzle game, but that feels a bit reductive because there are a lot of other puzzle games out there. It is probably better to say that Superliminal is an entirely new puzzle genre: the perception puzzler. Take some time to look at things from a new perspective, and it is amazing the kind of experience this title has to offer.

Superliminal is a game about dreams. The nameless, faceless protagonist seems to be having some issues with something, and is undergoing some pretty intense dream therapy. This sounds like the set up to three or four different horror games in recent memory, but there isn't anything too spooky lurking behind the curtains here. Instead, there are friendly, melodious voices of the therapists in charge here. Things start out nice enough, but after a couple wrong turns in dreamland the helpful therapists become less helpful and more panicky when they aren't entirely sure how to get you out anymore. The dialogue is that nice mix of creepy and funny that is reminiscent of Portal, and while the story is definitely minimal, what is here is enjoyable enough. It sort of feels like they were deliberately going for that Portal sort of vibe, but it doesn't quite capture that same charm that made the latter so iconic. It is perfectly fine though and serves as a nice enough way to connect all the various puzzles.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

The story is secondary here though, and while it is a nice touch, the big draw here is the gameplay. Superliminal is unlike any other game out there at the moment. It is a puzzler, but it presents some really new and interesting mechanics that really don't even have a close comparison to draw from. This is a puzzle that wants to play with perception, and here perception really is reality. Pick up a small block from a table and hold it in such a way to make it look huge on the screen. Now, let go of it and it will take up half a room. A huge chess piece might be blocking the doorway, but pick it up and turn around and suddenly it is the size of a normal chess piece and it isn't much of an obstacle any more. The whole thing is built around mechanics like this, and this is the kind of game that is almost impossible to put down just because it's exciting to see what new surprise is waiting around the corner.

While it is interesting in concept, interesting isn't enough in a title like this. It would just be a novelty without some puzzles built around the core concept and fortunately there are some absolutely fantastic ones waiting to be solved here. A good chunk of these are admittedly fairly obvious, and it is fairly easy to breeze through most of the levels fairly quickly. The game will introduce a concept, then show a couple of different ways it can be used. When the game really shines though, is when it gets around to really playing around with the mechanics, and it does a great job not holding the player's hand. It just sort of dumps you in a room and then walks away without so much as a little hint.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

There are multiple puzzles in here that forced yours truly to really think, and it isn't uncommon to try to try and power through a level using well established concepts only to be met with utter failure. This makes the eventual reward of figuring things out all the better, though, and there are going to be some puzzles that present a genuine struggle followed by a legitimate "Aha!" when the answer is finally figured out. You'll try the same thing over and over, until something finally clicks and the sense of accomplishment that follows is just fantastic. There are some great puzzles here, and since they are so unique it is impossible to draw back on previous experiences to help solve them.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

Equally impressive is the variety. There are nine levels in total, although one is just a standard sort of a conclusion. Each one will introduce a new concept to play around with. One will be about making objects larger or smaller through perception, while another will have objects appear by orienting drawing on the wall a certain way, while another will make duplicates of an object appear by clicking on it. Each level starts out simple, eventually ramping up to the point that will force the player to stop and think about everything they think they know about the puzzle mechanics. This is something that makes the experience truly great, and there's a good variety of concepts here, but then an even better variety of how to properly use them. Levels are short, but tight, and each and every new idea here feels well executed. This is one of the better puzzle titles in recent memory simply because of how new the ideas are, and then how well the game uses each of these new ideas to really test your puzzle solving skills.

This doesn't mean this is perfect though. The game's biggest issue is repetition and even though a lot of the puzzles here are great, there are others that seem to get reused because they couldn't think of anything better to put in instead. The "resize the blocks to make a makeshift staircase" pops up all the time, and the novelty sort of wears off after the first time you do it. Each chapter presents unique puzzles, but sometimes the general concept gets reused a bit much even though the levels themselves aren't that long. This also feels a bit on the short side, and when the credits start rolling one can be left wanting a bit more. This is a good complaint to have, where the problem isn't so much "fix this" but "more please," but this journey can be finished in a single night, and it might leave some people feeling unfulfilled.

Screenshot for Superliminal on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It is usually easy to make comparisons with other games. Something along the lines of "if you liked this or this, then you'll like this as well." That isn't so easy for Superliminal, because there are simply no others like this. That's what makes this such an easy recommendation. It might not be the toughest puzzler out there or the most highly polished, and it is true that some puzzles do tend to repeat themselves. None of that matters, however, because this is such a thoroughly unique experience that everyone should taste. The first day this came out, a clip of it went viral and reached the front page of Reddit. It wasn't a speedrun or glitch or anything like that. It was just someone playing the game. That's the kind of novelty this title has, and it is absolutely worth your time to go out and experience it for yourself.

Developer

Pillow Castle

Publisher

Pillow Castle

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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