Superliminal is a mind blowing puzzle game developed and published by Pillow Castle Games. Do you think you know what is real? If you think you know what is real, are you sure that it is. Challenge your own mind and question everything when you step into the world of Superliminal.
As an unnamed person, you wake up from a dream and are immediately subjected to tests by unknown people. Are they here to help you? are you a prisoner? who are you? what is your purpose of completing their experiments and what will become of you after its over? Well, only YOU can decide that by opening your own mind.
Superliminal is a game that takes a popular puzzle solving genre, that was really popularized and brought mainstream by games such as Portal, and completely flips it on its head. On the surface it might seem like its your typical puzzle game where you go to one room, solve this puzzle,go to the next room,solve this puzzle and then boom it just ends and that will be that. This couldn't be further from that truth because Superliminal has so much more to offer the player than just simple puzzle solving mechanics.
Immediately upon starting, the game already has you hooked with both your character and us as the player, trying to figure out just what is going on and why are we in this facility. We were captured to be used in some sort of weird experiment or is something mentally wrong with us that they're trying to help us cure. Whatever it may be, it begins with a mystery and its a mystery that you definitely want to get to the bottom of. You play as a character that has woken up from a lucid dream and you are constantly guided by an automated system,which will remind you of portal, and radios scattered around each area that play audio of your doctor giving you orders on how and where to proceed next.
Everything starts off simple, pick up this block here and place it on this pressure point to unlock the door,then take two objects and arrange them in the room so that you open two doors, pretty simple,right?. Well at first,yes,but then from what started out as simple little tests,quickly start making you scratch your head and you begin to realize this isn't just normal testing that is taking place in this facility, something else is going on around here. You begin to notice that reality is somewhat bending between what you feel is real and what you once perceived as fake. A simple object like a toy block that once fit in the palm of your hand, can now fill an entire a room just based off your own sheer will alone. How can this be? this is not possible right? this is physically impossible you tell yourself and of course you're right.
You see the genius of this game isn't in its puzzle solving, its the challenging of your mind to rethink everything you perceived before hand as normal or real. What if you took a look at a certain action you made, a certain opinion you have on something you considered the true ''truth''. If you challenged your perception of this reality and looked at it from another perspective, would you arrive to the same conclusion before hand or would you come out of it with a better sense of understanding and shatter your pre-existing notion of what is and what is not real. This game challenges you to do this time and time again.
Through the games narrative that is given to you through two sources, the AI female that constantly talks to you and by listening to the doctor via radios you find laying around, you're slowly brought into the true goal the game is trying to set you up for the entire time, but you will not realize this until the final act of the game. In the mean time while you build up to what is really going on, the world around you changes in ways you didn't think would be possible and in ways that are extremely creative. By grabbing an item from a distance,for instance if you're across the room, they will be the same size you grabbed them at, very small. But grab an item and lift it in the air and drop it and it will grow to gigantic size. All of these work for a singular purpose, challenge your mind on what it would normally think to solve a puzzle and think outside the box with it to achieve your success.
The game does a masterful job at forcing depth perception and perspective on you,which in turn will mess with your mind quite a bit. You'll see a distorted painting on the wall that looks like a block, but if you move around the room and look from a different point of view, it not only makes a shape look more clear, but you are also able to reach out and grab that same block from out of thin air,as if it really existed this entire time in its own little realm. While this may be the highlight for most people, I mostly took joy in the little touches Pillow Castle Games put into this title, the feeling of going nuts.
I will explain why this is my favorite part of the game before wrapping this up, you see this game has little touches that makes you as the player feel like you're in the shoes of the character we play as. Throughout the game our character goes in and out of dreams and intermixes his dreams into another to the point where it nearly becomes one big messed up nightmare and he just cant wake up. Like he is forever stuck in his dream, you suddenly also start to feel for this person because any of us would be going nuts by now, but this is what brings us to what the developers do to us,as the player. This is the set up to immerse us more into the experience.
Every time the character 'wakes up' from a dream or to end their daily sequence, you have to press the alarm clock off or it will keep beeping. However, the further the main character gets stuck into their dreams and the more messed up their mind is getting, the alarm starts feeling like its getting a little louder, its starting to get more annoying, you legit start saying ''shut it off!'' and you yourself start getting mad at it, but you do not know why. You are also treated to loading screens that will go black for around 30 seconds,making you question if your own console has crashed or if the game has locked up, but as soon as you start getting ready to close the game or get frustrated, the game continues. The developers completely mind screw you, just like whats happening to the character in the game and it's just brilliant.
When I went into the game I was under the perception that this was going to be a crazy and trippy puzzle game that I would play, most likely enjoy and that would be that,but while that may be true overall, I did not expect to be taken down the rabbit hole that I was taken down. While this is indeed a puzzle game,one that is in the same vein of titles like Portal, I personally feel this goes above and beyond of what is expected of a puzzle game and dips its toes into the more philosophical side of things. It's a game that asks you to challenge yourself,better yourself, know that the world around is not always what it is made out to be. It's so well wrapped up and intertwined beautifully via its narrative and game play mechanics, that at the end of the day,it makes me come to the conclusion that this is one of the best puzzle games I have ever experienced.
If you are open to having your mind challenged in more ways than one, then I definitely don't think you should pass up on this. While its not the longest game in the world,sitting at 2-3 hours, its one worth your time.
Superliminal is out now on Playstation 4,Nintendo Switch,Xbox One,PC
*Review code provided by Pillow Castle Games