Layers 1 3 4


The concept of layers (syn. "dimensions") was introduced in Submachine 7: The Core and expanded greatly in every main series installment afterward.


A layer of reality, or dimension, is a state of being both inside and outside the subnet. The reality presented in the Submachine series is divided into seven distinct layers. Each layer contains some version of the subnet, and versions are usually separated by clear distinctions in architecture, physical structure, and sometimes temporal structure as well. That is, one cubic meter of space in the subnet can be presented in seven main forms, each of which may contain completely different building materials, items, objects, and devices. Timelines in one layer may also be more advanced or less advanced compared to that of other layers.

While there are seven main layers, an eighth layer is also present. The eighth layer has properties that allow parts of it to freely flow between the other seven layers. This is described in more detail below.


Each layer is comprised of an infinite number of sublayers, which retain the same physical properties of inanimate/not alive objects across the layer but allow the transfer of organic material to travel between subrealities. If the organic material in question is humans, this can lead to people "disappearing" to an observer as they travel to different sublayers, or indeed if they travel to another main layer altogether.


The concept of layers is the crux of the Plan, which is an overarching goal of non-playable characters in the series. The Plan's goal was to successfully integrate seven different versions of a space into itself, and expand this space to create a physical database as large as the Core. The original intents for this database suggested by the Plan are not known, characterizing the mystery of the subnet's existence.

Various locations and areas in the subnet have only been experienced by the player in one or two layers, most likely as a result of an event called the Collapse, where unstability of karma in the Subnet led to the destruction of the Plan. However, there are yet other places where one location shares all seven layers. This is evident in such places in the Core such as the Knot. An example of a location is the temple, which resides in all layers and each layer appears almost visually identical to the next. Only tiny details differ from one another in specific cases. [1] It was revealed in Submachine 9 that the temple was not only part of the Knot but that the Knot was the only existing place left where all seven main layers were united.

A note in Submachine 8: The Plan suggests that not all of the layers were formed in the same way, going as far as to suggest that the third layer was a "copy" of another layer. [2]

Interlayer travel/objectsEdit


In Submachine 8, the player gains a device called a navigator which is used in conjunction with beamers to travel from one main layer to each other without changing their geotag (i.e. without changing between specified locations). The beamers are used to connect different layers with each other, while the navigator is the actual device used to change one's layer. This seems to be the principal method to traverse the layers.

It is interesting to note that in order to use a navigator, wires must be strapped to the player's head, suggesting that the actual method for interlayer travel is somehow related to the electrical signals of the player's brain.

Karma and karma portalsEdit

Karma is an energy source that, especially when in a liquid form known as karmic water, physically exists on all layers at once. Karma is therefore able to be used in special building materials to create "anti-structures", which are structures that have the special properties of existing in multiple layers at once and also resist local gravitational forces. Examples of anti-structural building materials have been seen in the Winter Palace and the pyramid.

Since karma supports interlayer properties, forms of transportation by use of karmic energy between layers have successfully been developed. The basic form of transportation created is a karma portal. A karma portal is a concentrated field of karma that allows for traveling great distances instantaneously. If the karma portal is formed correctly, it glows green and can transport people across great distances and through all layers easily without harm.

If the karma portal is formed incorrectly, it glows blue and its physical transport properties are only limited to one layer, specifically the layer that it was created in. The portal still operates between layers, but since it is incorrectly formed this causes major deformations to the structures in the vicinity. This includes cracks forming in the structures in mild cases, but can also cause full-on breaking apart/shattering of materials and can even be sp severe as to cause "tears" and "rips" in the very fabric of the layer in which the portal was formed. Too much instability can lead to a tipping point like the Collapse.

Binary portalsEdit

Binary portals are special machines that transport the player to different layers. Each one is specially designed to represent the architecture that characterizes the layer in that spot.

These are found in Submachine 10: The Exit after the player has lost the navigator in the transition from Sub9 to Sub10. Therefore it is interesting to note that the Player now does not need to be wired up in one way or another in order to transition between layers.

Layer superpositionEdit

Since the layers occupy the same space, they are in a state of superposition, so that they have corresponding geotags. The gallery below shows all eight layers of one specific spot, to show the clear breakdown of this superposition.

List of layersEdit

Below is a short description of each layer, including known origin stories and unique properties.

Layer 1

Layer 1 or the first layer is considered to be the first layer within the subnet. How the layers are given numbers 1-7 is not particularly known.

It is widely believed by many that the first layer is where the events of the first seven main series games takes place. However, significant events later in the series suggest otherwise.

Layer 2

Layer 2 or the second layer is another layer out of the seven. In itself it has revealed no special properties. However the second-layer version of a division of the subnet called Sector 9 contains a location with a monitor that gives the player the first concrete information about what the Plan involves. The screen filters can be seen as the pictures that accompany each of the layer subsections on this page.

Layer 3

Layer 3 or the third layer is the "home layer" of Murtaugh, from which he originally came from. This layer is unique because it is thought by unknown characters that this layer is "copied" from another, and that the third layer is damaged beyond repair. [2]

Layer 4

Layer 4 or the fourth layer has no confirmed special properties or characteristics.

Layer 5
“one thing bugs me. you all think that layer 5 will be "far away" like you could measure distance between two layers of reality. I think the distance is not the point here.”
— Mateusz Skutnik

“I have to get to the fifth layer.”
Elizabeth, Sub7

Layer 5 or the fifth layer is a layer of considerable interest.

Many people who follow Murtaugh seem to consider the fifth layer to be of particular importance. It is the layer Murtaugh headed to through the large karma portal seen at the end of Submachine 7. The player used the same portal, but a sudden change in direction led the player to the first layer instead.

Big green karma portal

Murtaugh's big karma portal to the fifth layer.

Elizabeth has also voiced a need to travel to the fifth layer to prepare for an intervention at the Knot. Presumably the fifth layer has more locations and pathways to reach the Knot.

Layer 6

Layer 6 or the sixth layer has no confirmed special properties or characteristics.

Layer 7

Layer 7 or the seventh layer has no confirmed special properties or characteristics.

Layer 8

Layer 8 or the eighth layer, also called Layer of Time and Layer of Light, is the "freefloating" layer that is "not stable" like the others. The time in this layer is frozen, and the friction caused by external beings in this environment causes the particles to produce light.

Since the eighth layer is considered as one that can "float" among the others, individuals who are in the eighth layer are separated even further mentally and physically from individuals in other layers. Evidence from Sub8 and the location wiq in the SubVerse supports the generally claimed hypothesis that individuals can still communicate with each other across layers; however the ability to do so is severely impeded. Notes discussing the eighth layer claim that this ability is completely removed altogether.

Layer coordinatesEdit

Layers are known by name, but each layer can also be assigned a certain coordinate for either programming purposes or shorthand use. Layer coordinates are presented in two formats:

Navigator coordinatesEdit

In Submachine 8: The Plan and Submachine 9: The Temple the coordinate codes are given as a set of 7 letters (8 in Submachine 9 after acquiring the eighth layer button). The letters used are O and I (where O represents the current layer and the Is are placeholders). The navigator is the device used to switch layers.

Coordinates: %%%%%%% (where %%%%%%% signifies the layer code. An additional placeholder is added after accessing Layer 8)
Example: IOIIIII (Layer 2), IIIIIOI (Layer 6)

Binary coordinatesEdit

In Submachine 10: The Exit locations in different layers are marked by a set of three letters that can be input into the binary portals that are in each layer. The letters used are again O and I (where I represents a pressed-in button on the portal and O represents an unpressed button).

Layer: %%% (where %%% signifies the binary combination.)
Example: IOI, IIO, OII, OOO


Since only three-letter combinations are used instead of being given a seven-letter combination with only one active letter, it is impossible to discern which binary coordinates match to which layer without further research and speculation. However, it is generally accepted that layer 1 corresponds to the binary coordinates OOO. The other binary coordinates are yet to be "paired" with a specific layer.

It has been suggested that the binary system present in Sub10 follows the real-world binary code for the numbers 1-8. A counter-theory has also been produced that the binary system arranges the layers based on a "natural progression" throughout the game. Both mindsets have been disproved by Mateusz Skutnik in a forum post where he said that the arrangement was more random.[3]

It is a common belief that most of the locations seen in Submachine Universe all fall into one layer. However it is not known which layer these locations belong to.

A list of the locations and representations known to a certain layer are given below. After that is a table with the unpaired binary coordinates and the representations that line up with them from Sub10. Each game column lists the confirmed locations/representations found in that layer for that game.

Updated list of layer coordinates and relative locationsEdit

Layer / Navigator code Binary code Sub8 Sub9 Sub10
Layer 1 / OIIIIII OOO Dock Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple Northern Garden docks, 550, angel ruins, basement, basement exit, captain's ship, infernal basement
Layer 2 / IOIIIII ??? Cardinal mosque Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???
Layer 3 / IIOIIII ??? Cog trees Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???
Layer 4 / IIIOIII ??? Large sewers Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???
Layer 5 / IIIIOII ??? Water pantheon Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???
Layer 6 / IIIIIOI ??? Armory Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???
Layer 7 / IIIIIIO ??? Bamboo town Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???
Layer 8 / IIIIIIIO ??? X Garden, Nataraja room, parallel room, pyramid, Shiva section, temple ???

Unpaired binary portal coordinatesEdit

Coordinates Known locations/representations
IOO Royal storage facilities, Storage unit 32/1, Storage unit 33/1, Storage unit 33/2, Storage unit 33/3, Storage unit 33/4, Level X
OIO 001, Resin mine, Rooftop
OOI Iron pyramid, 552, 552 + (1,0)
IIO 806, Karma studies facility, S.H.I.V.A. override corridor, S3C area, tunnels
IOI Dock, stabilizer bay
OII Little island, S.H.I.V.A. access point, Winter Palace
III Meditation temple, temple

See alsoEdit


  1. Forum post, December 18, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dimension note, Submachine 8: The Plan
  3. Forum post, January 2016

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