Originally published on Trevor Trove on March 4, 2018
TL; DR(eview) – Superhot bills itself as the most innovative shooter in years and it makes a solid case for it, often behaving more as a puzzle game than a downright shooter.
With the recent release of Moss, I decided I would dedicate this weekend to dusting off my PlayStation VR headset and sitting down with some of the titles I’ve missed in the last year or so. But when I couldn’t get my headset and headphones to play nice, I hopped into Superhot instead.
Initially simple from a design perspective, Superhot plays out as a fun Matrix-style power fantasy. When you enter the game, you are tasked with eliminating a series of “red dudes” with whatever is available to you. The real catch of Superhot is that the action really only moves when you do. So when an enemy shoots at you, the bullet remains largely immobile until you yourself move around. This turns each sequence into a puzzle to solve moreso than a straightforward first-person shooter.
You can disarm enemies by throwing objects in the mostly sparse environment at them. This will send their weapon flying, allowing you to perhaps grab it in midair and shoot them. Throughout the game you also acquire an ability to “hotswitch” into an enemy, effectively teleporting into them and taking them over. This ability has a cooldown period so you can’t just hop from enemy to enemy but combining these simple mechanics makes for some truly cool moments.
One of my favorite encounters had me facing down three enemies with a Katana. I threw the Katana at the middle enemy and almost immediately hotswitched into one of the enemies flanking him, arriving in my new body just as the Katana was slicing through my initial target. I then caught it in mid-air and used it to slash the final enemy in half. When you complete a level, it replays on a loop in real-time (without all of the bullet-time pauses from when you might have been just looking around to scope out the environment) and I relished how cool the sequence of events looked when played out this way.
The gameplay itself is connected through a bit of a story where you, the player, are occasionally kicked out of the VR simulation (though I am talking here specifically about the non-VR version of Superhot; the VR version is on my list to play). In these interstitials you hop into a DOS-like chat with assorted other characters that, without getting into spoilers, suggest the game my be a bit more sinister than what meets the eye. It’s an intriguing enough story but the gameplay is easily the title’s standout.
After completing the main story, a series of Speedrun and Challenge rooms, as well as an Endless mode open up to provide replayability for this excellent title. I look forward to jumping into the separate Superhot VR game next to see how the immersion takes the game’s premise to the next level.