the Andrew Bailey


Once upon a time, I saw a preview of a trippy game called The Museum of Simulation Technology. It was a puzzle game where you changed the sizes of things by placing things closer or further away. They were local, and it was in a contest at a local college, but I don't think it won any prizes. I signed up to the newsletter, but everything went quiet. I got my hands on the initial preview game, and wondered if this was still happening. A name change to Superliminal and one Epic Store exclusivity period later, it came out on the other game stores.

Screenshot of Superliminal, showing a warehouse disintegrating.

The big difference is that the premise changed from walking through a museum to being in a dream. I'm not sure which is a better stick to hang a story on. There are two narrators: a doctor, and a feminine robot voice. The doctor is only heard when activating conspicuously placed boomboxes. The robot voice activates frequently around the levels. It does not sound ominous, and the character isn't harmful, unlike another button-based puzzle game. Unfortunately, you can't disobey any instructions given to you. While I can understand how someone can call this a dream, my dreams don't involve changing the sizes of things. They usually look and behave realistically, until I realize it's a dream and go on a power trip. For example, in a dream, I'll need a thing to do something (for many values of thing), and suddenly, it will be in my hands. Where it came from, I don't know. Don't forget the synthwave and vaporwave!

I'm not sure if Superliminal is a walking simulator, because the environments are interactive and requires puzzle solving to advance. You walk around through different environments, and they repeat and twist behind you like The Stanley Parable. But unlike that one, Superliminal is completely linear, with no option to turn wherever you please (as far as I'm aware). The environments themselves are reminiscent of Stanley Parable. Besides offices, warehouses, and basements (all made of cinderblocks), you traverse a glacier, luxurious hallways, parking lots, and empty rooms.

Screenshot of an elevator opening to another elevator, infinitely

The graphics, gameplay, and sound aren't outstanding, but are sufficient to get the job done. A small indie game team made this, so don't get your hopes up. They didn't have a Kickstarter, either. The environments usually have this clean, boring, smooth look to them. It surprised me that the system requirements were so high. (There's a crypto rush right now; no one can get a breathtaking videocard!) I don't recognize a distinct art style (aside from Frasurbane here and there), and it doesn't catch my eye. I freaked out on the menu, seeing lots of chromatic aberrations around the edge of the screen, but thankfully, this is only present on the last 2 levels or so.

I wish this game was a bit longer. It took me about 2 hours to get through it the first time. Since I have the achievement for completing it in less than an hour, that's about how long my second playthrough took. I kind of wish it was longer, but I can recognize that it is about the appropriate length, and doesn't have any filler. It does what it needs to, and wraps it up.

Superliminal is one of those games I'll keep comparing to Stanley Parable, and I'll probably keep coming back to it.

Posted under Gaming. 0 complaints.