Super Not … gonna forget this game any time soon

superhot

HIGH Splitting an incoming bullet in two with a swift katana slice.

LOW Some challenge modes are lame.

WTF I wonder how much money Microsoft ponied up to keep this exclusive on XBO


 

Superhot is quick to tell players “time moves only when you move” in tutorial text and the dev’s own website. It’s a shame they’ve been clinging to that selling point so hard because it’s actually not true—time moves faster when the player moves, but it does crawl ever-so-slowly even if players stand still. What would marketing be without a little massage of the truth, though? And I guess “time moves pretty slow when you don’t move” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Superhot debuted as a weeklong game jam project before successfully passing Steam Greenlight and getting some Kickstarter funding. After launching on PC in February, the game finally made its way to Xbox One and the million-dollar question might be: is this first-person shooter’s time element just a gimmick?

For me, no. I finished the campaign twice on PC and was more than happy to jump in again on Xbox One. If this game is pouring Kool-Aid, I’m downing the pitcher.

Superhot starts as an old-school computer chat program in which a friend hands over an .exe file for “Superhot” itself. After a few stages the boundaries begin blurring between the game and reality, with the actual, live player being set up as the in-game protagonist.

Superhot has several levels to its narrative, which I didn’t expect the first time I played. The devs could’ve easily pushed this out as a series of arcade-like stages without a plot and it would’ve worked, but the Matrix-like script kept me engaged and made progression more satisfying. At times it can be relentless with its themes, but I didn’t mind. Games that get in my head and scramble things around a bit are right up my alley.

As interesting as the story is, gameplay is where Superhot brings the heat—pun intended. This is the kind of game, like Hotline Miami, where I spend an entire stage holding my breath without realizing it. Then when the post-level replay starts, I either collapse with a deep, satisfying sigh or pump my fist in the air in victory.

Because the player and enemies alike die in a single hit, situational awareness becomes top priority. Moving makes time move faster, and so does simply turning the camera. Time spent for a gun’s recoil must be taken into account as well, and when all of these factors are combined with what appears to be traditional FPS gameplay, Superhot reveals its true nature as a puzzle game disguised as a shooter.

Fortunately, this is just the kind of puzzle game I like because every solution involves using fists, guns, swords, or thrown objects found in the environment to kill everyone in the vicinity while making it all look as cool as possible. Even the best horror games don’t cause me to gasp in surprise as much as Superhot does—the moment I think I’m planning things well only to turn my head to see a bullet unexpectedly (and slowly) whizzing by an inch away never failed to cause near-heart attack levels of anxiety.

Superhot‘s discrete, arcade-like stages keep things fresh and require no expository setup beforehand. At any given time I might be standing on top of a moving train, in an alley with a truck barreling toward me, punching someone out a window, trapped in an elevator with bat-wielding hostiles, or in any number of other scenarios.

Although the campaign only lasts about two hours, I found it to be the perfect length to establish what it does, to get me invested, and then have me on my way before ever wearing out its welcome. Upon completion, several challenge modes unlock. If the tight, fat-free campaign seems too short for some players, these modes are welcome additions to the content offered.

In a generation where social media and word-of-mouth marketing carry substantial weight, Superhot gets a “please like and subscribe” moment in at its conclusion by urging players to tell their friends about it by saying “It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years!” Although both cheeky and slightly annoying, I’m almost ashamed to say that statement is true. Superhot didn’t need to point that out for me to realize it, but Superhot is everything I hoped it would be and more. Rating: 10 out of 10

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail purchase and reviewed on the Xbox One. Approximately 5 hours were spent with the campaign and other game modes, and the campaign was completed three times. No multiplayer modes exist.

Parents: Superhot is rated Teen by the ESRB for: violence and drug references. Although nearly the entire game consists of shooting, stabbing and punching human-shaped entities, I wouldn’t consider Superhot disturbing or ultraviolent because enemies are polygonal figures and shatter when players attack them, so no blood, gore or open wounds exist.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: Superhot contains no dialogue, so subtitles aren’t necessary to understand the plot. Audio cues for enemy location and threats makes the game more approachable and easier, so gameplay might be more difficult for hard of hearing players.

Controls: Y-axis inversion is available. No button or stick remapping or sensitivity adjustment is available.

Colorblind modes: No colorblind assistance is available.

Corey Motley

Corey Motley (like the Crue) has been gaming since the NES era. The first game he remembers playing is Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. Horror and stealthy, tactical action games are his jam. Some of his favorites are Silent Hill 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mirror’s Edge, Resident Evil (most of them), Metal Gear Solid 4, Fallout 3 and Hitman: Blood Money.

He has a Bachelor’s in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. He also has a personal blog (who doesn’t?) that he updates sporadically. He’s been writing for GameCritics.com since 2012 and has appeared on the podcast a handful of times.

If you want to dive deep, type his name into a Google Image search and you’ll most likely be treated to a scandalous picture of his Deus Ex tattoo. He also has a music background from 7 years on high school and college drumlines, and last but not least he’s dabbled in parkour. Don’t let those activities fool you about his ambition – he’s in his late 20s and still has no idea what he wants to do with his life.

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Skot
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Agree with the review, it’s everything I wanted it to be, no extra fat (well, the “story,” but it didn’t interrupt gameplay enough to be problematic).

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