Cor, now here’s something I haven’t seen in a long, long time. Back in 2014, Superliminal (then an untitled puzzler from developers Pillow Castle) was just a simple little demo with a cool as hell gimmick. “Gosh,” I probably said, “that looks neat. I can’t wait to give that a spin.”
Five whole years later, and I’d almost forgot about it. Like fellow mind-bender Manifold Garden, it’s been a long road to release. With a new look and a new name, Superliminal finally enters the picture in just under a week.
Superliminal’s gotten a nice lick of paint since I first caught it half a decade back. It’s all gotten a bit Portal, with a brief detour into The Stanley Parable territory.
I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s gotten very, very Portal. I’d readily put a fiver on that not-GLaDOS voiceover turning more openly evil in a second act twist.
Superliminal builds its puzzles around forced perspective, that optical trick your mum uses when she picks up the Eiffel Tower one-handed in holiday snaps while everyone pretends to be having a good time. Pick up an object, and it hovers in front of you. Put it down, though, and it’ll size itself based on how large it is relative to the closest object directly behind it. If you’re holding a toy ramp and position it so it looks like it’ll reach a window on the far wall, it’ll reach that window.
A trick I don’t remember seeing from those untitled videos years back is that flat images can be turned solid, and vice versa. Line up various cut-outs of a cube so they make a whole, and you can pick up that cube like it’s a regular puzzle game problem-solver.
It’s all a lot easier to describe in motion. This is one of the early videos I saw years back which prompted me to immediately think “gosh, that’s neat”. Developers were super into their quirky 3D puzzlers back then – just ask Antichamber.
From its visual influences to being yet another novelty-driven spatial puzzler, there’s definitely a bit of a dated feeling to Superliminal. It’s the same sense I wager you’d get if someone tried aping Super Meat Boy nine years later.
Superliminal arrives on the Epic Games Store on November 12th for £14.