What’s better than a standard puzzle game? One with a story that’s masking itself as something else. Most people at least have some knowledge of Portal, even if they haven’t played it, and that is probably still the marquee game for the genre. In particular, the sequel brings so much that is still unrivaled by other games, despite many attempts. That being said, Pillow Castle wants to take on a bit more than just portals, although those happen to make an appearance.
Superliminal begins with a therapy advertisement for people that are depressed and feel out of control. The therapy takes place in a dream state and focuses on the idea of perspective. The main way that this is used is making objects larger or smaller depending on how you’re positioned, which allows you to move them to other places, or gain access to areas you couldn’t previously. The game is also big on changing the way the world around you is viewed; much like the lovely team at Bloober. As you may expect, the orientation doesn’t go quite as planned, and you have to face some situations that may be unpleasant, although it’s all a matter of how you look at it.
This is the type of game where things will break. Whenever you have this much change to game assets based on camera views, it’s expected. As is the poor framerate at times when the game is loading up a big portion or changing something. So are there glitches? Absolutely, I had to reset checkpoints several times in the short runtime. Did it matter? It doesn’t break the game, as none of the puzzles are that in-depth, so time lost was really a matter of seconds. But it is a bit of a bummer that you have to worry about it – I don’t recall running into anything while playing Portal 2, and that was running on a PS3.
There are nine, really eight, levels to progress through. Each one has its own kind of theme, and it’s a shame that they weren’t used more throughout. As much as I appreciate that each level of dream has a different gimmick, it would’ve been neat to combine everything learned as you progress. None of the puzzles ever seemed too difficult, as it just required exploring all the options available. And while the game is about perspective and thinking outside the box, the solutions are typically pretty cut and dry. The camera is even nice enough to help center you on certain puzzles, ensuring you don’t get too frustrated with the situation.
The way to best enjoy this game is to not try to break it. Games like these are tightly scripted, so if you try to anticipate something, you’ll likely ruin it for yourself. Having played many games like this previously (the one that kept popping up in my head was Antichamber, although the settings were much more like The Stanley Parable), I couldn’t help but ruin parts. I found myself enjoying it a lot more when I let go, which finally happened in chapter seven or eight. The narration in the game is fine, albeit a bit lackluster. Not that the performances are bad, I just didn’t find the writing for them to be all that exciting. I will say that the overall message caught me by surprise though, which was nice.
If Superliminal is the type of games we’ll see in the future, or at least an idea of mechanics we can expect from Pillow Castle games going forward, I’m onboard. Hopefully follow up games will have a bit more polish to avoid all the visual stutters, but I’m always jazzed for more stuff like this. This is a great debut from the team.
8 out of 10
- Mind Bending Perspectives
- Environmental Changes
- Different Level Techniques
- Sort of Weak Narration
SUPERLIMINAL was developed and published by Pillow Castle Games. It is available on NS, PC, PS4 and X1. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of SUPERLIMINAL, check out the developer’s site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.