Have you ever had a dream where you knew you were in a dream? Have you ever then decided to see what you could do in your dream world?
Superliminal is a game based on lucid dreams and forced perspective. You manipulate the appearance of objects by holding them closer or further away, so they grow, shrink, or align in certain ways. It poses interesting visual and platforming puzzles in a dystopian vibe.
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long.
Visual Characteristics 9/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
The art style is incredibly clean and simple. The controls are pretty standard for twin-stick first-person games, but the lack of time limits make this control scheme great for low-vision gamers. You can easily maneuver yourself into a better position and enlarge objects to get a good look at them. The contrast is higher than the real world, but it’s still done in a realistic style. Tracking isn’t much of a concern as Superliminal is a puzzle game without time limits. The world isn’t cluttered with too many assets, though occasionally the lighting suffers, particularly in some of the “you’re not supposed to be here” areas.
If the lighting were adjustable or if the backstage areas weren’t as dark, I’d have given this category a 10/10.
Accessibility Features 4/10
Superliminal features a bevy of audio options that enables you to really tailor to your specific needs. Further, settings which adjust control sensitivity and toggle screen shaking effects can be applied.You can really tailor the audio to what you need.
I’d have liked to see options to increase the size of the menu text and possibly offer control and navigational assistance.
Assist Modes 4/10
There’s no assist mode, sadly. But there is a feature that helps you with alignment puzzles. Sometimes you’ll need to use the camera to look at your surroundings in a certain way so that an image lines up. It’s a fun perspective trick, but it can be hard to get the alignment just right. You might struggle with the controls, or you might not be able to see with enough detail to get it perfect. In these situations, if you get the camera pointed somewhere close and wait a second, you will be gently pulled into the correct position.
I would have liked to see more assist features, namely hints, but of all the features that were most needed, the camera assist is the most important to me. I would be so annoyed if I had solved a puzzle, but couldn’t prove that I had solved it simply because I couldn’t get the camera adjusted perfectly.
Non Visual Cues 2/10
Superliminal really struggles in providing you non visual cues. There is a voiceover (and optional subtitles) that give you some plot points, but they are relatively generic with their advice. The voiceover might tell you to look for exit signs, but you’re still going to need to locate the objects with minimal sound and no rumble effects.
Decent Fonts 6/10
The font is a tall sans-serif font. It’s a little on the thin side for me, and I wish it were larger. That said, you can use the built-in zoom on it because the only text you’ll see is the menu.
Necessity of Text 9/10
(The higher the rating, the less necessary the text is)
There’s no need to read in the game itself. The menus are the only reading you’ll need to do.
Handheld Play 10/10
Superliminal is a great example of a game that works equally well in docked and handheld modes. The twin-stick controls give you great flexibility to adjust your camera and playstyle to accommodate the smaller screen.
Level of Precision Required 9/10
Considering the camera assist in sections where you need to align objects and the lack of a time limit, Superliminal is very forgiving as far as executing solutions. If you’re working on a platforming puzzle and can’t seem to make a certain jump, you can simply reposition your blocks or make them larger. That does take a bit of practice to do, but you’ve got all the time in the world to do it. I wish more assistance to find the puzzle solutions was offered, as the puzzles are well-crafted, but there is generally only one solution. Again, some hints would really make the puzzle-solving more accessible.
Controls and Depth Perception 9/10
I’ve already mentioned that the control scheme is a great part of the game. You can also alleviate any depth perception issues by simply navigating around whatever you’re examining.
The only issue I found with the controls was that it’s hard to know exactly where you are in a first-person game. You don’t have a body, so you can’t look down and see where your feet are. This is a problem that I have with nearly all first-person games, so it’s not unique to this game. Superliminial tries to combat some of this difficulty by letting you crawl up ledges a bit if you just barely miss a jump.
Superliminial is a darn-cool game, particularly for visually impaired folks. If you’ve ever struggled to explain some of the tricks your vision plays on you, this game might help show your friends. It’s not a low-vision simulation, by any means, but it does an excellent job of demonstrating what it’s like to live with faulty depth perception and objects being too small to see. I really enjoyed getting to play with depth in a way that I can’t in the real world. It was oddly satisfying to be able to manipulate my surroundings and feel like I understood the objects around me in a way that I can’t normally.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
I’m going to recommend somewhere in the neighborhood of 20/600 or 20/800. I wasn’t held back by my vision in the game at all. I was held back by my lack of puzzle skills. Even being bad at puzzles, I enjoyed wandering around the world.
Overall, I recommend Superliminal. It’s a really interesting exploration of our visual world and how that world can be manipulated. It could definitely stand with some improvements made to accessibility, but it’s an interesting concept that has been developed into a fully-fledged game.
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