Release: February 25, 2016 (PC), March, 2016 (XB1)
Hello [INSERT_FRIEND_NAME], I’m here to tell you about this new game called Superhot. You should play it, it’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years!
Now that I have what they told me to say out of the way, let’s get started.
Superhot is a shooter in which time only moves when you move, or to be more accurate, a shooter in which time only moves at full speed when you move, rotate your camera, or interact with objects in the environment, causing it to play like, to use the common comparison, a turn-based Hotline Miami.
Though unlike Hotline Miami, or even other games that use a fourth-wall breaking narrative style like Pony Island or to some extent Untertale, Superhot’s narrative told through chat rooms and text bubbles through a DOS-like main menu screen is far too on the nose and self-aware to be effective or surprising. This causes it’s almost pretentious narrative about violence in video games and the horrors of virtual reality to be nothing more than a loose vessel to transport you through barely cohesive certainly unconnected arenas where you do what the main character keeps beating in to your brain.
None of it makes sense, you just kill red dudes.
The story is less about what happens in the game, and more about a game called Superhot within the game. The character you play is a person sitting at a computer playing a game called Superhot. It’s incredibly heavy handed throughout, though as incredibly obvious in its message and direction as it is it serves as a decent two-hour vehicle to get you from arena to arena for the meat and potatoes of Superhot.
Because even though it straight-up told me to tell my friends that it’s”the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years,” I can’t help but think to myself that it is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.
The game plays like a heavily choreographed action scene straight out of “The Matrix” or “Shoot ’em Up.” Instead of utilizing cover to avoid enemy fire you use ultra bullet time to dodge projectiles and intercept bullets with other bullets or an empty gun. You mindjack other enemies to get out of the way of enemy fire, you throw katanas and computers to knock guns out of enemy hands, grab those guns, and blow said enemies into a crystalline mess of polygons.
And it does what no other first person shooter I can think of lets you do. It gives you the time to plan these moves out with insane precision while you’re getting shot at in real time, albeit an incredibly slowed down real time. The insane slow motion lets you plan your next move in real time and execute it, and once you get into the flow of things it turns into one of the most fun and stylish shooters I can think of since Vanquish. And on top of that each level and survival run saves a replay that shows what you just did at full speed, and while most are very short, they end up being crazy fresh and hella stylish.
It feels like the so close to perfect blend of character-action, shooter, and puzzler. Though for as much praise I could shower on Superhot for its immensely entertaining game play, it never quite reaches the full potential of any of these categories.
Why can’t I crouch like in any other shooter ever made? There are so many instances where crouching under enemy fire would have made everything way more stylish and interesting. It wouldn’t even have had to be a consistent crouch, just like a duck that lasted a few frames. Why are there only three guns to toy with? We’re working with milliseconds so diversity in firing patterns and range would be hella fun to work with. And sure you can block bullets but that hardly comes into play during the campaign, and really only helped me in a few instances during survival and challenges. Forcing you to use a few more of the systems put in place during the short campaign, like jumping or blocking, could’ve unlocked so much more potential in Superhot’s ability to be a puzzle shooter to rival that of Portal .
And while the short two-hour campaign isn’t so much of a turn off for me, because Superhot is a game about style, speed, and precision much like Mirror’s Edge, therefore many many hours have been sunk into challenge modes and survival maps, the fact that there are only like eight endless maps is kind of a bummer. There are barely any textures you need to work with so maps boil down to architecture and layout, so why couldn’t there be like twelve, or even ten? It feels like its lacking in that content department, and while the game looks fantastic for its minimalist style, which I am just a huge sucker for, the maps feel like they couldn’t possibly be that time consuming to design visually, so why couldn’t a few more be put in? Or better yet just let the community take the workload and just let us do it with a map editor?
Though for all its shortcomings in its density, its storytelling, and its design, along with a few minor nitpicks I didn’t point out in its physics and geometry (sometimes the guns knocked out of a dude’s hands literally fly towards you and sometimes they just fall on the ground so the enemy can pick it right back up and cap you, which is infuriating, along with the fact that shit just misses sometimes,) Superhot does so much right, and so much new that I barely care. It’s stylish, it’s fun, it’s fresh, and it’s most certainly SUPER HOT.