I’m a huge fan of first-person puzzlers, with Portal being one of my all-time favourite games.
So within minutes of booting up Superliminal, I’m right in my element, opening doors, moving blocks, and trying to find a way forward. But this game also takes a very different and interesting approach which makes it wholly unique.
See, Superliminal is all about depth perception, seeing the environment layout in a whole different way than you’re used to, but it’s also a game that requires you to move around the room just so you can align it all up perfectly and interact with a previously unobtainable object or entrance.
Doing so might let you pick something up or open a door, maybe nudge something just slightly to open up a gap.
The room itself is the puzzle and it’s all about you to find the appropriate clues, the relevant object, and find the right combination to uncover a way forward.
Understanding the mechanics is a challenge at first, and admittedly, all part of the experience. That initial hurdle of working out how to retrieve a block when you can’t bring any over from the previous room left me scratching my head and wondering if the game was somehow glitched.
But making do with what resources you have available and thinking a little outside the box will stand you in good stead. This is a smart, innovative little game that really tests what you’re capable of.
You can jump, pick things up and even twist them around in your hands, but there’s more to Superliminal than that. To go deeper is probably a bit of a spoiler as this is absolutely a game about discovery.
Once I did understand how to traverse through the world and get new objects into my playspace, though, I was practically cruising through the rest of the game. And it is relatively short.
Short enough not to wear out its welcome, but also leaving you wanting just a little bit more. Perhaps the perfect balance?
Another interesting point to note, I don’t normally feel dizzy or disorientated outside of VR, but this game really messed with me. The way Superliminal plays with imagery and challenges convention is incredible but seriously mind-bending, even on the small Switch screen.
This is how the game differentiates itself from other puzzle games out there because they establish their mechanics early. In Portal, for instance, you shoot out two orange portals – entrance and exit – and you know where that leads because the player determines that path.
Superliminal is a lot less clear because your abilities don’t change as such, nor do you gain upgrades. It’s about finding the appropriate visual and environmental clue in order to progress and working within the confines of the universe you’re set in.
That serves to both the game’s benefit but also to its detriment as it can come across as slightly limited at times.
That doesn’t make the experience any less enjoyable, though. Discovery is quite satisfying in Superliminal, and from a narrative point of view this is probably closer to a Stanley Parable with its narration that often breaks the fourth wall. There’s a decent biting wit to the dialogue and sufficient enough suspense that you’ll want to find out what happens next.
Superliminal can be a decent challenge, but once it’s over, it doesn’t feel like a game you’d revisit in a hurry. Once the game has tricked you once, it struggles to recapture that sense of wonder and magic.
Still, for a short blast puzzler, this really does offer something different, and on the strength of that alone, stays memorable and lasting
Superliminal is out now on all formats.
Tested on Switch
Code provided by the publisher