“Hello my name is Dr. Glenn Pierce”, these words echo through the game. Who is he, you ask? He’s the face of the “SomnaSculpt” dream therapy programme, which helps people deal with their problems. You start watching a cheesy commercial to the sounds of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. As the camera pans out of the TV you see a bed, you’re in the facility getting treatment. Fade to black. You see a contact to sign and everything progresses from there as you lose more and more of a grasp of reality—getting stuck in your own mind.
Superliminal a first-person puzzle game and is very easy to pick up, it’s all about perception. Which is frequently messed with. It’s clear Portal was an influence, but instead of portals you manipulate objects; you can change the size of objects depending on your positioning. Grab an item close up and it becomes big, grab it from afar and it’s very small.
As puzzles progress they become more obscure and less founded in reality—the ruleset you learn changes—meaning you can’t quite anticipate the result. Sometimes objects turn out to be paintings, or maybe a door isn’t a door; this keeps puzzles fresh. Although they aren’t always clear. One had me wandering through a seemingly endless loop of doors and exit signs, not really knowing what to do. In fact, the solution was so abstract I don’t even know how I solved it.
Except for the odd puzzle nothing’s too obscure meaning, some will find the game very easy, but when it is you’ll find yourself wondering about looking for clues. This is one of the pitfalls because puzzles can be so abstract Superliminal could become tedious for some.
This said Superliminal is a linear experience, with gentle jazz and a splattering of humour, which doesn’t always land quite right. While Superliminal never really explains why you’ve decided to take the therapy; the ending gives you closure and helps justify some of the mindless wandering about, wondering if you’ll ever solve its puzzles.
Weirdly though it felt as if playing Superliminal put me through some therapy session and made me see things more positively. If you do decide to play the game, you’ll see what I mean; telling you more would just be spoilers.
Should you play it? Maybe
Why… it’s a very nice experience that subverts the players’ expectations of how puzzle games should play and makes you think.
But… this obscurity may remove a sense of achievement for some.
Key kindly provided via Evolve PR