Puzzles, the human race has been fascinated with them since the dawn of time. You only have to look at how many fads and crazes that have been puzzle based over the years, the Rubix Cube, Sudoku, Crosswords and many many others. Word, shapes, maths, perspective, puzzles come in all shapes and sizes and ever since the launch of Myst back in the days before I became a grumpy old man puzzles have become very popular on PC and consoles. I have never been a big puzzle fan due to having the patience of The Incredible Hulk on a bad day, controllers and my surroundings tend to get “damaged” when I get frustrated with video games. Luckily my insurance is up to date because thanks to Pillow Castle and their latest puzzler Superliminal it looks like my patience is about to get tested.
Score – 9/10
+ Clever puzzles
+ Varied level design
+ Compelling narrative
– Fairly short
– No replayability
Superliminal sees you playing as a patient of Dr Glenn PIerce who is the head honcho of the Somnasculpta sleep therapy program. You spend the game within an artificially induced dream like state, all of this is briefly explained to you in a brief but excellently executed narration as you awake in the first room of the Somnasculpta facility. The whole game takes place from a first person perspective and as soon as I booted into the game I was struck by how closely the aesthetics resembled Portal and Half Life 2, the graphics are slick and very well presented.
As you are in a dream state getting through the game requires you to view things from a different perspective in order to successfully solve the various and vastly different puzzles you will encounter along your journey through the facility. A large part of the game is based on perspective and the manipulation of it through some very cool graphical effects. If you pick up objects close to you they will appear small however if you drop the object off into the distance or throw it up into the air and then catch it, it will suddenly appear much much larger. I spent ten minutes in one of the first rooms just playing around with objects manipulating perspective and making them smaller and larger, it is an idea I have never seen implemented in a video game before and is frankly pretty damn cool.
I, of course, got stuck on the very first puzzle when I did decide to move on from my newfound love of manipulating perspective and through the desire to preserve my controller instead of smashing it into smithereens had to look up a walkthrough to progress, as soon as I saw the solution to the puzzle I felt humiliated, the solution was so easy..yes I am stupid. But this is the thing with puzzles, they are always easy once you know the solution, there will be several places in the game where you give yourself an almighty facepalm after spending half an hour on a puzzle only then to have it all click and realise the solution is much easier than you originally thought it was.
As you travel through the facility in the game you sink further and further into a dreamlike state you begin to feel a bit uneasy about your surroundings and find yourself questioning exactly what is happening, the snippets of narration do an excellent job of pushing you along and keeping you interested in the story and what feels like an ever spiralling descent into madness thanks to some of the rooms you encounter later in the game. Puzzles are mostly based on perspective and your manipulation of it but remain varied enough that they never become tiring, there are honestly some real brain breakers near the end, but I felt interested enough in the story to keep pushing on to find out exactly what was happening.
It took me around 4 hours to finish Superliminal but as stated in the intro I am no puzzle game veteran so your experience may vary. Superliminal is a very slick package both aurally and graphically, and did a good job keeping me interested though the story thanks to the narration and highly varied rooms and puzzles. I don’t know if it has made me a puzzle game fan but it has certainly opened my eyes to just how much fun these type of games can be if they are presented right. I can highly recommend this to fans of puzzlers and those wanting to dip their toes into the genre.