First Person shooters are a genre that has been defined by a specific style formula made famous by Call Of Duty : Modern Warfare, and sense the release of that gold standard title the formula has remained virtually unchanged by most and deviated from by a select few. Through innovation, clever and surreal storytelling and smart gameplay, Superhot breaks the mold with a fantastic albeit short FPS treasure.
The game is presented from the point of view of a man playing Superhot through a VR headset on an illegal crack of the game, with a random chat friend popping in to discuss your feelings towards the game . This style of presentation gives the game a meta feel to the overall experience, with the pause menu and main menu being presented in linux style command prompts, for example to run the game you need to select superhot.exe from your index. The story starts off simple, you are a fellow playing a new game given to you by an internet chat friend who claims it to be the next best thing. From that intro point the story follows a simple line until the half way mark when things go down the rabbit hole into a very real experience , using 4th wall breaking and immersive effects to engage you. Narrative is displayed in large text on the screen in mission, basically giving you a one line story to set up the scenario. I won’t spoil the story but it does get creepy and leaves you feeling a little skeptical towards technology.
Graphics in Superhot are a little dialed back , low texture and minimalistic character designs and colour palettes take the focus in the design. Enemies are presented as red human shapes amidst a white back drop, intractable objects such as weapons or toss-able items are in black which allows the player to focus on what is essential and important to how the scenario will play out. A nice touch is that each enemy bullet is followed by a red trail so that it can be identified from a distance and allows you to determine which direction a passing bullet may come from. In a perfect world of advanced development I would have liked to see some advanced graphics, but in a way akin to Minecraft, the simplistic design allows more to be available to the player without sacrifice.
The whole concept behind the games mechanics is that time only moves when you do, and within that mechanic creates the opportunity to become a bullet time god and create replay worthy of John Woo. Each level drops you into a different scenario taken almost straight out of an action movie, such as an impending ambush in a pool hall washroom spilling out into the main hall of which aforementioned pool is played. Weapons are divided between three distinct types; guns, melee throwables. Guns are the weapon type that are the most frequent and versatile within the game. The time mechanic comes into full play here as you can line up your shot and fire but the bullet will not travel unless you move to allow time to move , this in turn can bring a puzzle aspect to the game in regards to timing your movements and shots whilst avoiding oncoming attacks. Melee weapons allow a satisfying change mainly because you need to take advantage of the slowed time to avoid bullets and get in close. Throwables and hand to hand offer a different variety of strategy in the fact that landing a hit with a throwable weapon such as a bottle or 8-ball causes the enemy to be stunned and toss whatever weapon they are holding forwards , so a well placed throw can make the difference between unarmed and outnumbered to Max Payne gearing up for the gunshow. An ability called hotswitch makes itself available in the last leg of the game which allows you to swap into an enemies body, leaving your original behind to die.
Upon completion the game offers a challenge mode and an endless more, each of which require a specific score to proceed to the next stage. Endlesscan be a little dull and repetitive after four or five runs. Challenge mode allows you to play through key story missions with certain restrictions such as “Katana Only” giving the second play through a bit more flair.
Superhot is a fantastic yet short foray into a bullet time driven world with a story that may keep you looking over your shoulder for a long time afterwards.