Available On: PC, Xbox One
Tested On: Xbox One
Where To Buy: Steam, Xbox Store
SUPER HOT. SUPER HOT.
This odd phrase will be pulsating methodically through your mind after spending a few hours with this first person, time manipulating, puzzle shooter. Although Superhot parallels the same intentions as many other shooters, it shares more similarities with titles such as Portal. Timing, intuition, and imagination will allow you to progress through this psychedelic, six-hour adventure.
The narrative within Superhot is just as nonsensical as the title. In fact, the lack of a cohesive story is the narrative. An online ‘friend’ shares with you the Superhot executable, thinking it is simply a quirky shooter, hidden within a computer code. It would appear that this hack is not as innocuous as your associate would think, referring to the game as “kind of random. No plot, no reason for anything, just killing red guys”. Inspired by films such as The Matrix, you begin to become addicted to the program as a cybernetic trip entrances you. Soon the AI begins to manipulate you, censoring your cries for help and repressing your thoughts. It sounds dark and for a game with no definitive narrative or antagonists, the developers have created a gripping story which feels relative to their unique and imaginative gameplay.
The story or lack thereof aside, the heart of Superhot is the intriguing shooting mechanics. Although you will acquire guns, they are not your greatest weapon. In Superhot, the surroundings move at a passively slow pace when standing still. Every action you take, such as looking around, moving forward or shooting, will accelerate the passing of time. The enemies, who are appropriately named ‘red dudes’, will be governed by your movements and the time-lapses. Basic foes will attempt physical attacks whereas gun wielding enemies will fire upon you. By utilizing delicate movements, an incoming punch can be easily avoided by gracefully strafing to the side. Miraculously evading oncoming bullets can be effortless as you watch them soar across the screen, leaving a hot red trail streaming behind.
Once the art of dodging bullets has been mastered, returning the favor plays by the same rules. Shooting your gun will literally shatter your red victims like a pane of glass. However, instead of quickly switching your cross-hairs to the next foe, reloading is bound by the laws of physics. You can initiate this process by moving and advancing time or you can throw your weapon at the nearest enemy. This will not destroy them but startle and disarm them. With a swift approach, you can snatch their weapon from the air, turn it on the owner and eliminate them with deadly precision.
The first stages acquaint you with the mechanics and soon you will find yourself annihilating dozens of enemies without breaking a sweat. The difficulty will rise however and enemies will soon wield assault rifles or shotguns which spray bullets across the stage. Every weapon the enemies possesses can be acquired and as more ‘red dudes’ fill the stages; the combat becomes far more complex.
Superhot allows you to feel superior and audacious. One particular level set in a bar began with a confrontation in a bathroom stall. After flooring a ‘red dude’ with a punch, I soon found myself flinging an eight ball at the barman and snatching his shotgun from the air. Subsequently, I downed a handful of enemies whilst barely evading a barrage of bullets. I stood triumphant as the floor was covered with red shards. I proudly tossed my weapon away and the phrase ‘SUPER HOT’ repeated as I watched a replay of my carnage.
It is an odd feeling having spent a couple of minutes, meticulously evading bullets and carefully combating enemies, only for the replay to show that in reality, it lasted a few seconds. You are prolific in hindsight as you make light work of your enemies and it looks great. The Matrix has inspired the narrative and the gameplay allows you to feel like Neo with the replay representing what mere mortals see from an outside perspective.
The color pallet is simplistic with only whites, blacks, and reds being present. A few more colors to indicate enemy types would have drastically improved the scenery. Impressively, given the design choice, the locations and environments are rather sophisticated. Although the story missions are small snippets of action, it allows for some spontaneous situations. Whether you are breaking out of a prison or running atop a moving train, the scenarios kept me engrossed. One standout encounter finds you in an elevator surrounded by three armed enemies not too dissimilar from the iconic scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Surviving the ordeal had my heart racing and after watching the replay, even Steve Rogers would have been impressed with my performance.
Once the narrative has been completed, a few challenge modes unlock. You can be tasked to beat a level with a particular weapon or my personal favorite mode, the endless run. Putting you in a secluded environment as countless enemies rush you is a daunting task. As they possess a range of weapons, the mode stays varied and with more foes constantly entering the fray, it can become extremely challenging. In the back of my mind, I always felt as though a camera was watching and subconsciously, tried to look as exquisite as I could throughout. Watching the replay after taking down thirty ‘red dudes’ looks incredible and feels liberating.
Superhot is a wonderfully unique concept and everything included has blossomed from that idea. The apparent lack of a narrative is surprisingly compelling and overall, is a refreshing take on the overcrowded first person shooter market. More colors, weapons, and scenarios would certainly have kept my interest longer, however, Superhot is a brilliant concept fantastically executed.
- Gameplay: Time Control, Precision Shooting
- Graphics: Limited Colors, Diverse Locations
- Sound: SUPER HOT. SUPER HOT
- Presentation: Hacking Aesthetic Throughout
- Imaginative Concept
- Well Connected Theme
- SUPER HOT
- Limited Colors