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Superliminal

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Superliminal Game Poster Image
Escaping this lucid dream means thinking outside the box.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

There's an overall theme to the game of looking at your world from different perspectives and thinking outside the box to overcome any obstacles in your path.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Outside of occasional recordings from Dr. Pierce and directions given by the SomnaSculpt A.I., you're alone in your surreal dreamscape.

Ease of Play

The best way to progress through Superliminal is to toss out everything you think you know about how things should be or what should happen. The forced perspective puzzles are tricky enough, but often you'll find yourself trapped until you happen to literally fall into an escape.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Superliminal is a first-person puzzle adventure game available for download on Windows-based PCs. Players find themselves trapped in a virtual dreamscape and try to find their way back to the waking world. The game pushes the idea of perspective, with objects constantly changing behavior and properties based on things like position, angle, lighting, and more. Players are generally left to their own devices to figure out how to progress further in the game, which can lead to getting stuck in some frustratingly difficult moments. There are a couple of moments that seem like the game might be moving in a horror route, with apparent blood trails and handprints, though this is shown to actually be spilled paint. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

Welcome to the world of SUPERLIMINAL, a place where perception is reality and nothing is quite what it seems. Stop for a second and take a look at the world around you. Is any of it real, or are you simply living your part in a vivid dream? What began as a trip to a sleep clinic is quickly becoming a waking nightmare. You've taken part in the SomnaSculpt experimental dream therapy program, a system developed by Dr. Glenn Pierce to help patients cope with stress and self-doubt through the use of lucid dreams. The problem is, now that you're in your dreamscape, no one can seem to figure out just how to get you out. It's up to you to rewrite the rules of perception and bend reality to your whims in order to navigate this virtual world. Can you think outside the box and find a way out of your own subconsciousness, or will you stay forever trapped in the never-ending loop of your dreams?

Is it any good?

We all get lost in our own thoughts from time to time, but it's another thing entirely to be trapped in them. That's the premise behind the first-person puzzler, Superliminal, a game where all the rules you think you know get tossed out the window. It forces players to look at everything from a new perspective, literally. Size, shape, and everything else is all based around perspective. Picking up an object in your foreground and dropping it into the background keeps its size relative to how you saw it when you first picked it up. As a result, a small sliver of cheese suddenly becomes a massive ramp. Or maybe a model house on a table becomes big enough to walk through. Superliminal is one of the most surreal mindbending experiences in gaming.

While things start off a bit on the trippy side, things at least make some kind of sense in the early stages. But as the game progresses, things are more confusing, and the solutions get more obscure. It's possible to find yourself trapped in one area for a substantial amount of time, frustrated by a lack of direction and no clue what you're supposed to be looking for. And then, right when you're at the end of your rope, you end up falling down an invisible hole that you never knew was there to being with. In fact, the biggest fault with Superliminal is that it just assumes you'll sort things out if left to your own devices, which would be fine if you had some sort of hint you were at least moving in the right direction. Even when you're doing everything right, the game has this nasty habit of making you question if you're actually on the right path. As the dreamscape begins to collapse in later scenes, scenes repeat or shift suddenly without explanation, or you fall into an abyss while making a mad dash for a door that apparently was never really there to start with. Eventually, moving forward feels more like a matter of dumb luck than observational skills, taking some of the sense of accomplishment out of the game's sails.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about perspective. How can it benefit people to look at things and events from different points of view? How can thinking outside the box help to overcome obstacles?

  • How can our dreams affect our mindset when we're awake? And how can our real-world issues affect our sleep and our dream state?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Pillow Castle
  • Release date: November 12, 2019
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: November 14, 2019

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love puzzles

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