Reviewed on Xbox One X
Superliminal is a game that I’ve been waiting long time for. I saw the original tech demo for the concept of the perspective based puzzle way back in 2014, and I thought it was incredible. It was so unique and something I never saw before. When the game was fully revealed, I was extremely excited and the game made it onto our Most Anticpated Games of 2020 list. Now, it is here and it doesn’t disappoint.
(2014 tech demo)
The game takes place entirely in a dream, located mostly in a dreamlike and eerie hotel, and I think it does the “dream world” better than any other game. It is weird, unsettling, and just when you think you understand it, it messes with your head. There was a moment that blew my mind when a hallway turned out to be an inverted image pointing towards me not away. Just when you think you understand the physics, it will change on you. So many puzzle games have you go into a room, solve a puzzle and then head to the next room. This game will have you go into a room, solve a puzzle, and then have you go around the wall, through a shadow, portal through a keyhole, go behind through a maintenance hallway, to get to the next area. Rarely is the path forward what you think it is.
The game features a common mechanic, where the player grabs an item, and the item actually changes size and location based on how you hold it. So a soda can if held out in front of you, looks to be at the distant end of a hallway, when you let go it will be, and if you approach it you will notice it grew to the apparent size it was when you held it. It’s kind of hard to explain, but perception dictates reality in this game in cool and surprising ways.
The developers didn’t just recycle the same mechanic over and over they kept introducing new ones. It got really interesting when doorways which were essentially “portals” were introduced because sometimes could manipulate the doorways size making you a giant or a miniature when you passed through. It was really weird to enter one door, and pop out on a miniature town set in the same room you were just in.
The absolutely most mind blowing weird moment in the game is when you commit a paradox and the game just freaks out. I wont spoil it because it’s the best moment in the game, but the paradox was really cool. This kept giving me Inception vibes, the layers and weirdness a dream setting can be. It felt like were descending into the depths of reality.
While I think this game is a 10/10 amazing must play experience, I can see the criticism that it’s a little short, coming in at only 60-90 minutes. I considered taking away from the score, but really I just wanted more of a great thing. Sure, I want more but that doesn’t really take away from the experience I got.
There was an interesting story, a timely relevant message, and a phenomenal gameplay mechanic that made this game epitomize "Quality over Quantity".
This game makes me wonder what a AAA studio could do with this concept in a sequel. If some big game company could please go buy Pillow Castle and throw lots of money at them that’d be great. I want a 20 hour big budget sequel to this game. This game begs for a scope increase. I want to use the perspective manipulation to make a soda can the size of a skyscraper instead of a house. I want more.
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