Snazzy name, but its not good enough to hear perpetually for hours on end and not begin to secretly resent.
SUPERHOT (2016) is a first-person shooter/puzzler created by Superhot Team. It follows you (sort of) who is sent this ‘new revolutionary shooter game’ and slowly begins to get sucked into an inescapable virtual world.
While story isn’t the selling point for this game, the main campaign is still worth mentioning. Its short but thorough, and delves into all the usual 90s ‘hack the planet’ and Matrix tropes. It has some great ideas, but unfortunately feels like its is delivered by that obnoxious know-it-all everyone knows at their local pub. Its frustrating because its innovative meta-narrative is unique enough that I so desperately wanted to like it, but its so indulgent and frankly even arrogant that it repulsed me as much as it drew me in. If SUPERHOT‘s campaign was a person, I’d listen to them intently for a little while before punching them in the face.
Thankfully its gameplay is nowhere near as paradoxically repulsive. The simplistic art style of bare, translucent rooms with blocky enemies to maim clearly lends itself towards a gameplay focus, and thankfully that pays off. The core conceit of SUPERHOT is simple: time only moves when you do. Each level starts with you being thrown into a room and forced to murder a series of enemies with the conventional punches, bullets and swords but the ability to almost freeze time whenever you stop moving turns each environment into a puzzle begging to be solved instead of a action scene begging to be littered with bullet holes. If you get hit, you start over, but the restarts are instant and incredibly forgiving, giving the sense of incrementally solving a room attempt after attempt. Once you’ve completed it you get to watch the carnage you concocted unfold in glorious real-time, making you feel like a mix between John Wick and Neo (so just Keanu Reeves) as your actions make you appear like a utter badass.
As additional content goes, SUPERHOT is also extremely generous. While the campaign only lasts a few hours, its completion opens up every level to enjoy, as well as extra options like time trials, endless mode and interesting challenges like only using melee or only throwing weapons. There’s hours more content here and considering the campaign’s obnoxiousness, this streamlined SUPERHOT experience is where I had the most fun. It provides variety, elevates the already great gameplay and has little to no pompousness to speak of.
At the core of SUPERHOT is an awesome concept. What effectively boils down into a mesh of a puzzle game, FPS and a Keanu Reeves simulator is slick, entertaining and takes a long time to outstay its welcome. Unfortunately the package also comes with Keanu’s pretentious second-cousin who can’t help constantly dragging you away from SUPERHOT‘s strongest elements. But after he’s pushed aside, there’s a lot to enjoy in this self-proclaimed ‘innovative shooter’. Just get past the campaign.
Casual Gamer: Recommended
Hardcore Gamer: Highly Recommended
Narrative-drivers: Not recommended