My daughter watches videos made by Japanese voice actors, which is really all I have to say about that, but apparently Japanese voice actors are a silly lot (at least from a Western perspective, I guess). I suppose it’s fitting that one video she showed me was of a pair of actors playing a game called Superliminal. Which is currently available through the Epic game store. Which is currently having a sale. Which means that Superliminal is only $5USD.

If you loved Portal but thought that it wasn’t trippy enough, then this game is going to be your jam. Like Portal, you begin Superliminal by waking up in a small room. Here, though, you are a participant in a sleep-and-dream study, meaning that you are going to be moving through several levels of a dream state. There’s nothing inherently weird about the levels themselves, but in this world “perception is reality”, so the scrap of paper says.

The most basic mechanic involves, well, your perception becoming reality. Pick up a small child’s block and it’s a small child’s block. Rotate the camera so that the block is above your head — still at arm’s length, mind you — and drop it, and suddenly the block is now 10 times it’s original size. How? Perception. When the block is viewed close to the floor, the block is normal sized; when viewed in relation to the far-off ceiling, it looks relatively larger when you compare it to the girders and lights hanging up there. Like Portal, you need to master this technique in order to press buttons and create surfaces for you to climb up to other levels. But it’s not just making small things large and large things small.

As you can see here, this checkered cube is painted in the wall corner. As video games have taught us, anything that looks out of the ordinary is probably significant, so by solving this optical illusion, we are rewarded.

While solving puzzles is a reward in and of itself, we can’t be put in a weird situation without the appropriate level of dark sarcasm, so you’ll eventually find your way out of the dream trial and move “backstage”.

You are occasionally guided along by boomboxes that you find, introducing you to Dr. Glenn Pierce, who is constantly reminding you that the monitoring staff has no idea where in your subconsciousness you are, but that they are keeping on it and will update you whenever they have news.

I’m not entirely sure what the outcome of this process will be. Part of Portal‘s pay-off was the end-game when we encountered GLaDOS after having solved our way through her trials. I don’t think such a sinister reveal will work a second time, but the idea of taking a simple in-game item and projecting out thoughts into how we can manipulate it through perception is a pretty wacky and fun way to create a puzzle game.


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