Superliminal Review – Mind-Beandingly Great
Platform: PC, PS4 (2020)
Developer/Publisher: Pillow Castle
Release: 12th November 2019
I love good puzzle games, simply because truly interesting ones are quite rare, let alone the ones that are actually good. Superliminal caught my eye because it simply sold me on its array of perspective puzzles, smart ideas and the fascinating technical aspect of the whole endeavor, simply through the gifs and pictures I saw on Twitter. And luckily, it holds up.
Superliminals core are of course the puzzles and they’re also the best thing about it. Superliminal is centered completely around perspective puzzles and other concepts all about placing objects in the right way and think around corners. I think there’s not a single actually generic puzzle in the game now that I think about it. Instead, the 3-4 hours long adventure (1 hour or so if you already now all solutions) is a journey through an avalanche of unique ideas you don’t normally see in puzzle games, probably because I can’t imagine how difficult it has to be to actually implement some of those systems.
Speaking of systems, let’s just appreciate the concept of Superliminal in its fullest if you actually never seen a trailer for it: As perspective puzzles suggest, the base concept of pretty much the whole game is how objects change sizes depending on how you’re holding them and now it actually becomes reality. Holding a coffee cup in front of a whole from a distance suddenly makes it seem like its as big and tall as said wall, if you let go of the cup now, the cup actually remains this big in reality so you can use it to climb up walls and alike. It’s a wholly unique and fascinating concept I haven’t seen that polished and centered in any game so far.
Unfortunately, sometimes this quite new idea can also lead to problems, mainly in the puzzle design itself as it’s not always obvious what to do. If players didn’t come into touch with a mechanic, teaching them said mechanic can be quite problematic. Especially in the middle I felt some puzzles were a bit too bizarre for me to fully grasp right out of the box so I struggled quite a bit simply because I had no idea how to approach it or what this puzzle wants from me, even after solving it, everything felt kinda… weird?
On the other hand, the story itself, or well, narration of some sorts never really clicked for me too much, it just felt like a weird mix between the more fun Portal writing mixed with the writer’s own touch. While I love Portal and sarcastic narration in theory, Superliminal’s aim to still tell a satisfying plot through it all felt kinda… uncompetent? Most of the actual plot is shrouded in weird dialogues, hints and many other subtle things to a degree that makes it almost impossible to understand it. It’s a confusingly weird narrative with some nice moments of brilliance but not a whole lot else.
Superliminal is an amazing game, at least for the puzzle lover. While it may struggle at times with its ambition to tell a story in all its weird environments and ideas, the actual gameplay and mind-bending adventures are still worth every penny if you’re in the mood for a few hours of well-thought-out entertainment.
[A review code was provided by Evolve PR]