Superhot is a shooter, but it isn’t any ordinary shooter. Trapped in a virtual reality simulation, you are thrust into a relentless series of combat scenarios where you have to dispose of a group of mysterious red men by any means possible. Whether you do it by your fists, guns, swords, baseball bats or even a cocktail glass, the game does not care so long as you get the job done. The unique wrinkle here though, is that time only moves when you do. See, I told you; Superhot isn’t just any ordinary shooter.
Read the Superhot VR review (for PlayStation VR)
A thinking person’s shooter in the truest sense
Rather than a series of shooting galleries as most contemporary FPS efforts tend to be, it’s probably best to think of Superhot’s levels as puzzles that need to be solved. In every case the objective remains the same, you have to take out the red men by any means necessary; that last part is particularly important too, as how you do it is entirely up to you and as such, you have a great deal of creative freedom to solve each situation.
For example, one situation might have you beginning in a lift with three dudes, all packing handguns and ready to put a bullet in your noggin as soon as a single second passes. The first time I did this part of the level, I elbowed the chap to my left in the throat, took his gun and blasted the other two before putting the first out of his misery. The second time through, I spun around behind one of the red men as the first one began to fire, killing the one I had used as an impromptu human shield. As he crumbled to the ground, I caught his gun falling through the air, and put a round in each of the remaining fools to see myself out of the lift and further into the level.
Such John Wick style flourishes of violence are only possible due to Superhot’s nifty time mechanic, and the feeling of satisfaction that you get from pulling off such feats is considerable indeed. More crucial than that however, is that the manipulation of time allows you ample freedom to plan your next move; being able to slow a hail of bullets to a crawl and then slowly weave your way through them also happens to prove itself to be one of gaming’s finer pleasures, certainly. Clearly though, if you want to succeed at Superhot, there’s no two ways about it; you absolutely have to be patient because trying to play the game like any other FPS will invariably result in failure.
Adding an extra layer of complexity to Superhot’s already deep arsenal of tools, is a neat body switch trick that allows you to leap into the bodies of your crimson hued foes. A cooldown based ability that takes time to regenerate, body switching makes Superhot’s battle-flavoured puzzles even cooler and deeper still. One instance of how you might use the ability could have you throw a sword toward three enemies, possess one of them just before it hits the other, pluck the sword out of the air after it strikes its intended mark and then use to it to fell the final foe.
Beyond its slo-mo, bullet-time style puzzle theatrics, it turns out that Superhot actually has a worthwhile story to tell, too. Cast as a reclusive hacker who illegally obtains a mysterious VR game (the titular Superhot, no less), Superhot uses an old-school, ASCII style computer interface to replicate chat room style conversations with other fellow hackers, the tone of the dialogue deepening and becoming darker as the real reason behind the game’s proliferation starts to be revealed. With a plot that explores themes of existentialism, addiction and transcendence, in addition to taking a handful of digs at popular culture, it’s fair to say that the grim parable which Superhot tells was both surprisingly well written and also utterly unexpected.
Not Super Perfect
Though toweringly imaginative and a whole heap of fun to play, Superhot does have a small handful of shortcomings that serve to dilute the quality of the overall experience a little. Most obvious of these is the campaign; at just over 90 minutes in length Superhot’s main story can be completed frighteningly quickly which becomes a problem from a value standpoint if the additional content does nothing for you.
Speaking of the additional content, while the range of unlockable challenges do indeed provide some much needed extra play and variety (each challenge focuses on your acumen with a particular weapon), they all unfortunately take place in the exact same maps, with the exact same enemies in the exact same places that they are in the story campaign. As such, the incentive to play through them, short of trophy hunting, is lessened somewhat.
Equally lessened, was my interest in Superhot’s Endless mode. Essentially, little more than an infinite wave scenario where you have to kill as many enemies as you can before you finally succumb to superior numbers, it’s literally the definition of a no-frills addition to the game; an afterthought that would not have been missed if it wasn’t included in the game to begin with.
A wholly imaginative combination of puzzler and shooter, Superhot is cut from a very different type of cloth to other FPS efforts that folks might attempt to compare it with. Though a very short-lived campaign and unoriginal additional content do tarnish the overall experience somewhat, the fact remains that Superhot is one of the most original and entertaining games you can buy on PS4 right now.