Does our perception of the world we find ourselves in affect the reality? Perception is how a person understands something and different people may have different perceptions for the same thing. Reality, however, is the truth and the actual existence of something. Perception may be controlled by external factors, but reality cannot be controlled by anyone or anything. Pillow Castle Games, Superliminal puts this theory to the test, how subliminal is Superliminal? It is a puzzle game in which perception IS reality! I was intrigued by this, and coincidentally we received a review copy to see for myself.
How it all begins.
The game starts with you falling asleep with the TV on at 3AM, you remember catching a glimpse of the commercial from Dr.Pierce’s Somnasculpt dream therapy program. By the time you open your eyes, you’re already dreaming . However, the therapy suffers a bit of a blip, which forces you into a looping dream cycle. With the aid of Dr. Pierce, you must navigate your way out of this dream. So begins the first stages of this experimental program.
This game is a first person puzzle-based, single-player game that features perception as its primary mechanic. Waking up in a dream, you have to solve riddles to unlock new areas, with patterns and truths slowly becoming apparent. You will need to change your perspective and think outside the proverbial box to wake up from the dream.
The world of lucid dreams seems like an ideal setting for a puzzle game, as the unconscious mind summons a variety of weird dreamscapes and objects for you to interact with.
To escape you have to solve puzzles but instead of using portals, ( I cannot deny there are areas that remind me of Portal) perception is what you must use. You can interact with various items in your environment, but once you have picked them up your perception then becomes the new reality. Allow me to explain, should you pick up a cube from close range, and then you move backwards, the cube will grow in size to match your perspective, and vice versa. The movement and controls are relatively straight forward. There’s really not much to it other than walking, jumping, and clicking. Which I liked as I could spend my time focussing on how to resolve the puzzles without being tested on how nimble my fingers were.
The game is not just about changing the size of objects, there are other mechanics and challenges that appear, you have the ability to clone objects, and there are memory puzzles too. Superliminal is BIG on illusions, I often found myself reconsidering my relationship with the first-person camera (of which I am not a fan of in games) from how objects appear within the screen space, and questioning whether I was relying too much on real-world logic to solve puzzles. This game experiments with optical illusions and on more than one occasion I found myself feeling nauseous. I had to stop playing and revisit it at a later date. To be honest, if I was not reviewing this game, purely because of this queasy feeling, I probably would have stopped playing it.
The one thing I disliked the most about the game was trying to work out what was expected from me. On one occasion I found myself in a hallway becoming increasingly frustrated at how to escape from it. I was in my own virtual nightmare of exiting and returning to the same place. No help and no clues were forthcoming from the game, just an endless cycle of leave and return! I must confess I did rage quit the game at this point only to find myself back in there a few days later determined to move on.
There are trophies for completing it at speed (clearly not a trophy that I obtained) and a few collectables in the form of chess pieces and hidden blueprints to go back and hunt for should you wish to.
Graphics and Sound
The game looks good and I did not experience any lag or glitches as I played. I did wonder whether there would be a problem or two as I enlarged objects as much as I could, but no such issues were experienced.
The in game music I think is meant to be melodic, as you hear someone tinkling on the ivories, which of cause is I presume is in keeping with the dream that we find ourselves in. However, for me it just does not fit in with the game and what is being asked of you (if you actually know what that is!) Instead I found myself being transported to the 1930’s and I imagine myself having afternoon tea at the Dorchester with Great Aunt Mabel rather than sitting in front of my PS4 playing a puzzle game.
I like the idea of the game and the dream world is the perfect environment for messing with people’s perception.
Visually – the game looks good with lots of optical illusions that mess with your perception, which is what it sets out to achieve and achieve this it does. It is a shame that the environments are not more varied.
Sound – I can surmise in one word: yawn!
Entertainment value – It is fun for a short while but it is not something that I think I would find myself playing over and over again.
How long to complete the game, I have read that it is do-able in about 3 hours. Me, well, I am still in that hallway trying to escape! (I jest) All in all it has taken me about 4.5 hours to complete it.
Superliminal is now available for PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, having previously been released on PC. Pillow Castle Games has confirmed that new content has been added following the game’s launch on consoles, including achievements, hidden rooms and ‘other secrets.’
Have you played Superliminal? Let us know your thoughts of the game in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.
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How sublime is Superliminal?
- Overall - 6/106/10
Graphics – looks good, it is a shame that the environments are not more varied.
Sound – Easily forgettable
Game length – Short – approximately 3 hours.