Logical puzzles are one of those genres that continues to develop somewhere on the sidelines of the industry, breaking out from time to time to the general public. The Superliminal project from game designer Elbert Shea and Pillow Castle Games Studios offers a new take on the established genre, making a significant step forward since the release of Portal and The Stanley Parable.
According to the concept of the project, you find yourself in a special clinic that treats nervous diseases by immersing patients in lucid dreams. Once in the world of dreams, you feel a new reality, where other laws of physics apply and almost everything becomes possible.
When traveling through a wonderful world, in addition to spatial tasks, you meet tape recorders through which artificial intelligence tries to correct the dream and make it as useful as possible. But at some point, something goes wrong when your hero gets into a cycle of many dreams inside other dreams, which Christopher Nolan has long been talking about in his classic movie “ The Beginning ”.
True, here everything was done without an insanely spinning top. The basic mechanics of Superliminal involves using perspectives and manipulating objects. So, at one point, at one angle you see uneven stripes drawn on the ceiling, but it is worth changing the position, as you reveal a three-dimensional figure that you can pick up and turn into a step for the desired exit from the level. Or a chess piece after clever manipulation can be turned into a door.
By moving and rotating objects, you can increase their size. For example, a small house can be taken from the table and visually moved to the background, turning it into a full-fledged building. Naturally, puzzles actively insist on using the aforementioned mechanics, so in the course of an hour’s history you will throw blocks through the wall, transfer portals to highly located arches and collect three-dimensional objects from disparate drawings.
In the second part of the game, objects will begin to flow like a clock in Dali’s paintings, solid figures break up into empty cardboard boxes inside and the world will turn into an element of modern walking simulators, where the environment changes by itself regardless of your actions. Naturally, all the freshness of the experience of turning a cheese head into a ladder to a door hovering in space will be lost.
The story itself is also significantly inferior to the already mentioned Portal, offering a completely banal denouement, a minimum of explanations as the sleep cycles change and the complete absence of the humor aspect might be a downer for some, but it’s for the artistic experience that you should play this game.
You get some fragments of the narrative through tape recordings and announcements during transitions between cycles, but this is clearly not enough. At the same time, after halfway the came can feel like it’s lost it’s touch. Which sadly isn’t that great for a short game as Superliminal is.
Superliminal is 20 minutes of revolutionary gameplay, the sensations of which gradually fade away as the game turns into a walking simulator. The project could be pulled out by an interesting story, but beyond the concept of “it’s all a dream”, the authors could not go any further, not to mention the insignificant duration. The muscial component is very well done though, and the developer promised to ad a few new levels in the future, which would be a nice surprise (atleast if it is free).
Superliminal is a short but sweet artistic puzzle game. But can feel like a walking simulator halfway through the game.