Super. Hot. Super. Hot. Super. Hot
Platform: PlayStation 4
Available on: Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Oculus Rift, Stadia, Nintendo Switch
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer: Superhot Team
Publisher: Superhot Team
Released: February 25, 2016
*Takes in a deep breath* Well then… That was ridiculously intense. Superhot is a first-person shooter unlike well, anything I have played to this point. Someone mentioned the insanity of this game to me recently and I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Serendipitously (word of the day) just a few days later I saw this was on sale as part of PlayStation’s Days of Play event, so I thought why not, it’s time to give this and go, and I don’t regret a second of it. So, what’s the deal then?
Time waits for red guys
The key mechanic here is the progression of time - Time only moves normally when you move. When you are perfectly still and not moving time is slowed. This allows a nearly pausable real-time strategy element to be infused into the gunplay and is absolutely essential. The game starts quite simply as one would expect, you have to kill a red guy or two with a pistol, to adjust to the mechanics, which at first are quite alien to navigate. After a few levels and getting used to things the pace really gets going. Faced with more red guys than before, a larger arsenal of weapons becomes available to you. Outside of the basic pistol, shotguns and rifles become available. These are deadly when wielded by your enemies and reinforces one of the key mechanics - You will die in one shot, there are no health bars. Coming up against foes using shotguns etc certainly mark a difficulty spike due to the spread of these more deadly weapons.
Acquiring weaponry is quite simple in Superhot, you either pick up a weapon from the environment or you punch an enemy to disarm them, allowing you to grab their arms and use them against your enemies. Dying from one bullet also applies to the enemies, and there are few feelings in the game more empowering than destroying several foes in one shotgun blast or rifle burst. By far some of the more enjoyable levels for me were the instances where you start without a weapon at hand and need to dodge bullets and travel large distances in order to get locked and loaded. Some levels have rather urgent and immediate set ups, one of my favourites being you start at a bar and the bartender is there ready to blow your head off. Another example is where you start a level and there is a truck right behind you, if you don’t move immediately you’re done for. These circumstances launch you into action right away and force the player to think on their feet, the right frame of mind to complete this crazy adventure.
Of course, guns are only half the battle.
Can you swing a sack of doorknobs?
Melee combat in this game is so much ridiculous fun. The one-shot nature of health in the game only adds to it. Running around with a bat, smashing the red guys into tiny pieces is a powerful feeling. Starting with just your fists, it can take a few shots to bring these guys down but when you’re out of options, it can be made to work. The real fun with melee is the weapons available. You can get bats and walk around slugging guys OR you can use the almighty katana. This achieves the same thing in that it will kill your enemies in one shot but you can also throw it and slice bullets with it. Yes. If you time it well enough, you can slice a bullet when it is close enough. Based on cool points alone, the katana wins by a country mile.
All the munitions in the game have a shelf life. Guns can only fire so many times, and melee implements can only be used so much. To counter this, you can throw them. Out of ammo? Toss your gun and disarm a bad guy. You can throw bats and katanas as well but they will shatter once thrown, barring the katana which has a few gos in it (another contributing factor as to why it’s badass). Outside of this, you can lob objects in the environment as well. These aren’t deadly but they can provide a distraction and of course expel weapons from your foe’s hands. Bottles, generic geometric shapes etc are all critical in getting through this game. It’s a great recourse to have. In normal FPS games, you can feel helpless if you run out of ammo, but in Superhot there is a consistent stream of options for stunning and defeating those dastardly red b*****ds. You’re never truly out of options.
What IS the deal with those red guys anyway?
I’m in danger hahaha!
Short answer is, I don’t know what the deal is with those red guys. The basic plot is that you kind of play a fictionalised version of yourself. Simply a person, messaging a friend, and they tell you about this awesome game called superhot.exe. You get access to it and plug in and start killing bad guys. Seems straightforward enough, right? As you progress there some strange stuff starts happening, where the game starts “glitching” and you need to get updated versions. There is meta-commentary throughout, with visualisations of being trapped in a prison, alluding to being hooked on the game. The people behind the game, in-game, plead with you at various points to stop playing. Over time the “system” as it’s referred to gets more sinister, showing the player’s in-game home and making threats of consequences should you keep playing. Ominous messaging is displayed at different times and the system hacks messages to your friend. I won’t say the story is nothing but it’s certainly open to interpretation, and the menacing tones suit the game perfectly. The story isn’t really the focus here but it provides an intriguing and unsettling backdrop. Themes of relinquishing control are persistent, and if there is one thing humanity fears, it’s being in situations where their control cannot be exerted. Without spoiling anything, the story’s end is all about giving in and allowing the loss of control to happen. There is plenty here to chew on and it keeps the cogs turning long after the story has been completed.
Strike me, visually
There is a minimalist charm to Superhot. You and enemies are red, the environment is white, and usable objects are black and that is the entire colour palette. Each colour has a purpose and works with each other very well. The white environments are there for objects and enemies to stand out more. Red denotes fire, blood and as such will instill a level of danger, and black stands out well amongst red and white. There are some beautiful effects to be found in the game. There is a violent beauty to smashing a red guy’s head with a bat and watching their heads burst into countless polygons. Similar to that, weapons smashing when thrown has a similar appeal, whether it is off a wall or off an opponent.
I personally love the animation of the bullets. Due to the key mechanic of manipulating the passage of time, you regularly get to see these up close. The red trail left behind by bullets is not only practical as it helps you dodge, but looks great as well against the white backdrops. Simply wonderful and I hope for any future iterations that this unique style is retained.
Take the red pill
Ya know what I love possibly more than anything else about this game? The replays at the end of each level. They’re shown in real time so you can see the mayhem caused quickly. It certainly gives perspective on the situation and shows that without the key time manipulation mechanic, this would likely end up being just another shooter despite it’s great visual style and unique take on weaponry. I’m glad it didn’t turn out that way and I would implore anyone who is a fan of FPS games to play this. This is a marked change from the normal shooters you see released and more people should play this.
While the story itself is short and won’t take more than three or four hours to complete, there are extra challenges unlocked as you complete the main game. Currently I’m in the middle of the katana challenge, and as I’m sure you can guess, you can only use katanas and it is an absolute blast.
There is also a VR version, and I can only begin to imagine how much fun that would be.
Want to try it out on the cheap? The full version of the game can be found on the Days of Play sale at the moment on PSN, only for 12.49. Don’t have the money? You can try the prototype version on Team Superhot’s website here.
Play this game if…
You’re interested in seeing an innovative taken on the FPS genre
You like stylized visuals
You enjoy stories that nourish your inner tinfoil hat wearer
You enjoy great shooters with plenty replay-ability
Images 1 to 5 taken from the press kit here
Image 6 taken from the press kit here
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