First launching on The Epic Games Retailer back in November 2019 earlier than hitting consoles earlier this year, surreal indie puzzler Superliminal has lastly made its approach to Steam. A brand new platform at all times brings with it new faces, and with Superliminal usually being considered as one thing of an underrated gem by its followers, it appears the port to Valve’s seminal PC storefront shall be one more alternative for a contemporary batch of players to expertise Pillow Citadel’s work.
So, for these lastly getting the possibility to dive into the perspective-shifting puzzle recreation now its graced the pages of Steam, is it price it? Performing virtually like a mix of the construction of Valve’s wonderful Portal Games and the mind-bending world of Galactic Cafe’s The Stanley Parable, Superliminal is with out query a really competent puzzle recreation. Very like the aforementioned Portal, it’d solely have one mechanic behind it, But the sheer uniqueness of that gimmick is so nicely utilized and explored all through its temporary marketing campaign that it by no means wears out its welcome.
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To these unfamiliar with the title, Superliminal has a easy premise. Waking up in a surreal world performing below the mind-boggling legal guidelines of dream logic, the participant should discover a approach to return to the true world by way of an assortment of puzzle-focused chambers. Their one instrument on this unusual realm of looping corridors and oddly proportioned rooms is their perspective, with players in a position to decide up objects and alter their size by altering the place and the way they take a look at them. This implies small chess items scattered round rooms can remodel into large battering rams and the moon itself can turn into the sizes of a pea.
Even with out Pillow Citadel’s eventual additions to the mechanic, it is utter genius. Little or no compares to the primary fifteen minutes players will inevitably spend getting their head round simply how revolutionary this idea is, as they resize each merchandise within the recreation’s sequence of opening chambers with gleeful abandonment. All the pieces about it flows so seamlessly, and with no decelerate or body drops between resizes, it is exhausting to fault virtually something about how the studio integrates such a sensible mechanic.
But it winds up coming into its personal much more because the participant progresses, whether or not that is by way of studying easy methods to body objects so they seem inside exhausting to succeed in locations or – in a single particularly psychedelic degree – multiplying a set of fireplace escapes to create a ramp. In among the later sections of the game, there’s even the chance to resize doorways and drastically scale back the sizes of the participant character in segments paying homage to Honey I Shrunk the Youngsters. It retains issues contemporary from starting to finish, with no part ever overstaying its welcome or using the attitude mechanic in the identical approach.
Talking of the degrees, for essentially the most half, they’re positive to appease players in search of a nice handful of issues to resolve, though they hardly place many hurdles of their path. Positive, there are two or three particularly brutal headscratchers included, But the overwhelming majority of the game’s chambers are easy affairs that prioritize an brisk tempo over participating puzzles. Whereas that is partially the rationale that Superliminal manages to weave such a good expertise, it does imply that what’s here can really feel a bit simplistic at times.
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For each difficult puzzle that makes the participant cease and suppose, there are round six to seven chambers that may be solved in a matter of seconds. It will’ve been nice for the problem to ramp up as Superliminal proceeded by way of its runtime, But because it stands, there is a distinct lack of problem in the direction of the late-game sections.
That being stated, these ranges are a pleasure to discover from a visible standpoint. Centering round an summary, minimalist world, Superliminal is a surprisingly fairly recreation at factors, partnering its quirky puzzles with equally bigger than life areas. Most areas shift the general fashion between ranges (though, admittedly, some extra numerous locals would possibly’ve spiced issues up a bit), with the stand out being the darkish, dingy corridors of a horror-inspired degree that players traverse in the direction of the midpoint of the game.
For essentially the most half, areas shift design based mostly on the fashion of gameplay that takes precedent within the degree, with the aforementioned horror phase seeing players navigate darkish areas with a makeshift lamp. Alternatively, one of many recreation’s last sequences makes use of stark white environments to power players to query what’s and is not out of the extent’s bounds. It is nice to see the visible design tie-into Superliminal’s meta, perspective-shifting gameplay so continuously.
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It is a disgrace that the identical focus wasn’t poured into the game’s overarching narrative or tone, as a result of Superliminal can are usually considerably forgettable for a recreation with such a singular core premise. Though the gameplay positively resembles components of the likes of Portal, The Stanley Parable, and The Talos Precept, the distinction is that every of those Games had one thing defining. Valve interlaced Portal’s ranges with the dry wit of GLaDOS, Stanley Parable’s unusual dream logic was laced with self-referential meta-humor, and The Talos Precept included a contact of philosophy into its proceedings.
Whereas Superliminal usually considers the concept of weaving moment-to-moment gameplay with a further, narrative-based aspect, it by no means actually totally pulls the set off. Via the narration of the ever-present Dr. Glenn Pierce, it turns into clear early on that the game desires to narrate its perspective based mostly gameplay to the difficulty of psychological well being. It is positively one that would’ve labored below the suitable circumstances, particularly contemplating the game’s summary focus, But sadly it by no means seems like Superliminal earns its poorly interwoven message by the point the credit roll.
It is also price mentioning that it is a very brief recreation, clocking in at round 2 and a half hours on the primary run. Until players are keen to return for the newly added developer’s commentary or extra speedruns – which doubtless will enchantment to some contemplating it has built-in settings to facilitate them – the game is not going to outlast greater than two or three sittings on the most.
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That being stated, Superliminal continues to be a very strong puzzle recreation. Its revolutionary principal mechanic is well worth the worth of admission alone, with Pillow Citadel taking the time to evolve and experiment with the function so no two ranges are ever precisely the identical. What it lacks in problem, story, and size it makes up for with its dedication to its perspective-based premise, carving a genuinely enjoyable puzzler that is positive to go away aficionados of the style happy.
Superliminal is out now on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Game Rant was provided with a Steam code for this review.