For most of us there are few games that you see released on a platform you don’t own that make you jealous (I’m not talking to you people who own every console and a PC, you’ve got choice coming out of your ears). Every once in a while though something gets released and makes you wonder if it’s worth investing in other hardware to play one game, and SUPERHOT is certainly in that category. Landing on PC back in February 2016, moving to Xbox, then finally taking well over a year to appear on PS4, it’s been a long wait for a game I’ve loved the look and premise of for some time. Now it’s here, is it as good as I thought it would be?
SUPERHOT on the surface is an FPS with a twist – your movement speeds up time. Stand still and time moves really slowly giving you the chance to check your surroundings and plan your attack, as well as being able to dodge bullets and perform acts with inhuman reflexes. It’s also a puzzle game where you think several moves ahead to ensure you’re not being overwhelmed by the many red dudes that will try to take you out. Death is only one bullet, one punch or one sword swipe away; but then restarting is only a single button press away. Sitting over the top of everything is the fact that SUPERHOT is also an AR mystery game, one that has you immerse yourself in a VR world where your every action is instructed and monitored by an unknown source.
The hook in SUPERHOT is the time bending aspect. You’re presented with a stark white environment where anything you can pick up is black, and anything red is out to kill you. Looking around moves time along at a slightly increased pace, whilst moving shifts it in real time. Your only goal is to kill things and move on. Punching is your staple move, stunning any enemy you connect with and knocking items from their hands, usually guns. Grab that from mid air and you can turn the tables on your opponents pretty quickly, though you need to count your shots because everything has a limited use. If there’s no weaponry to hand there’s usually a bottle or glass to throw, or a baseball bat you can go to town with. If you’re in the right place there might even be a katana to make things go all Kill Bill.
Without doubt SUPERHOT is influenced by a number of movies and classic action sequences. Each level seems to be a homage to something you’ve seen before, but then they’re not straight replicas so there’s plenty of room for you to take the approach that fits best. Here’s where the game sucks you in with its controlled freedom, you just want to pull off the coolest room clearance you’ve ever seen. There’s a chance to see the fruits of your labour too with the replay mode that kicks in when you successfully complete a level. A simple press of square, then square again has the video uploaded to YouTube or Twitter too… it’s so easy to show off what you’ve done. There is a niggle here that I wouldn’t mind seeing addressed, you can’t select the playback speed and it does tend to whip through the action a bit too quickly. You end up missing some of what you thought was really well executed.
It’s not a long game, and because the learning curve builds so nicely, the last levels are fairly simple to work through, even if there are more than a couple of retries needed. Fortunately, aside from an obligatory chapter select, there are secrets embedded into anything you replay giving a treasure hunt feel to heading back in. Then there’s endless mode which gives you a number of areas in which to just batter your way through an infinite number of red dudes, the only goal being to beat your last high score. If neither are those are enough to sate your virtual blood lust, challenges come along giving you fixed weapons or specific restrictions to what you can use. Everything is built to be tough but achievable and you really do feel like you’re honing your skills.
Combining the different game types together knits a superbly executed story and gameplay experience, one that challenges your thinking and FPS skills and leaves you wanting more from the sadly all too brief story. There’s both a retro quality and a futuristic feel, but given the prevalence VR units are taking at the moment, it’s right at home in the now. It’s no surprise then that there’s a SUPERHOT VR and it builds more on the intriguing story started here (we’ll be bringing that review shortly). At £19.99 it’s on the high side for a couple of hours of main game, but then there’s nothing else like this around and it comes with a huge amount of replay value. Experience it.