|RELEASE DATE||2/26/2016 (PC); 5/3/2017 (XB1); 7/19/2017 (PS4 EU); 7/21/2017 (PS4 US)|
|PLATFORMS||Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC/Steam|
Once again, a massive shoutout to Evolve PR for providing me with a code for SUPERHOT! Been looking forward to this release for a while, so I’m glad to get the chance to play it.
Sidenote: This review is based on the Playstation 4 version. Not SUPERHOT VR as I don’t own any kind of VR peripheral. It also will not cover any differences that the PS4 Pro version may have, as I do not own a PS4 Pro.
Let me get this out of the way first: SUPERHOT is not a game that is really about story..
There is a story mode, and the game is certainly a single player game – but the narrative isn’t exactly the biggest draw.
It’s a very short campaign – averaging only about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on your own skill level. It’s a lot like the Portal games in that regard.
I will say that the story that is here, is certainly interesting. It leaves quite a lot open to interpretation, and it’s up to you – the player – to figure out what’s going on within the world of SUPERHOT.
It’s worth going through, even if it weren’t the only way to unlock the rest of the game.
This is by far my favorite part of the game. I love a nice, minimal artstyle and SUPERHOT nails that aesthetic. Every level is stark white, with a bit of shading to help you tell where things are. Interactable items – weapons and items in the environment that you can pick up – are shiny and black. Enemies are a very bright, reddish-orange. Everything stands out beautifully against the white backgrounds and you will never be confused about where enemies are or what you can pick up.
Now, there were a couple of minor issues that I ran into – but nothing that ruined the game. Mainly some minor framerate drops here and there. They never really interfered with the gameplay too much – though sometimes they made aiming just a slight bit sluggish.
While the visuals were my favorite part – the gameplay is really where the game actually shines.
SUPERHOT is a very unique shooter to say the least. Much like a game like Portal, SUPERHOT is less of a straight up shooter, and more of a first person puzzle game.
However, rather than dealing with portals and momentum, SUPERHOT deals with positioning and time manipulation. You see, in SUPERHOT, time moves when the player character moves.
That’s not entirely true, though. Time does still move even when you’re completely still – it just moves very, very slowly. Almost frozen, but not completely.
That said – nearly any movement you make results in the flow of time being restored to normal. Enemies will continue moving, any projectiles will continue on their trajectory, environmental obstacles will continue on their path.
This is the meat of the gameplay here – learning how to bait out enemy shots and aim where they are going rather than where they are. Learning how to maneuver in a way that allows you to avoid weapon fire, while still being in a good position to hit them.
One of the big things about SUPERHOT is that there is absolutely no HUD. None. No ammo counter. No health bar. No objective marker – nothing but an unobtrusive crosshair that changes to let you know when you can interact with objects and enemies.
It’s really nice.
You’ll need to learn how many shots a certain weapon type will have, and keep track of how many you’ve used on your own. If you don’t, you could end up in a situation that can get pretty messy.
You see – enemies all die in one hit – unless you’re using bare knuckle melee, in which case they take 3. However – so do you.
One errant bullet, an unarmed enemy you missed or an errant truck you didn’t dodge fast enough will instantly end your fun – and they will end it often. Thankfully, restarts are fast, and you can restart at anytime by simply holding down the Triangle button (“Y” on XB1).
While there are guns in the game – 3 specifically: a pistol, an automatic rifle and a shotgun – this is not a shooter. Don’t expect iron sights or hyper precise aiming. Your crosshair is all you get – and it works perfectly well.
There are a few other weapons in the game as well – swords, bats and various other objects that can be picked up and thrown to disarm and incapacitate/stun enemies.
It’s also one of the most fun things to do when it works out. Punching a Red Dude in the face and snatching his gun out of the air, only to fire it and blast him in the face or slice him in half with it is a super satisfying thing to pull off.
You can also throw objects at enemies – vases, picture frames, pool balls – doing so will stop an enemy in their tracks for a few moments and cause them to drop their weapon. You can also throw your weapons at them for the same effect – useful if you have no ammo in your gun.
There is also one last mechanic that you’ll have to use – hotswapping. Hotswapping doesn’t really come into play until the late game, but it’s a very powerful ability. It allows you to switch from the body you currently inhabit and take over the enemy you might be targeting at that moment. This will kill the initial body and give you full control over the target.
Because this ability is so powerful – it has to be charged after you use it. This happens purely over time – as long as time is flowing, the hotswap will charge. The faster you’re moving, the faster the charge.
This keeps hotswapping from being abused – after all, if you could just do it whenever, the game would be ridiculously easy.
I absolutely love it when a game features a ton of extra content – and SUPERHOT delivers on that front for the most part.
I do really appreciate all of the challenge modes the game has – like going through all of the levels with only a katana, or having Hotswap available on every level. They definitely change things up quite a bit. And there are quite a few of these challenges.
The endless arena modes are also fairly fun, though unlocking new levels can be a bit of a grind (Each new arena requires a certain amount of kills from previous arenas – it’ll take some time to unlock them all).
The last big part of the game is the Speedrun challenge. This is what the game is really about.
There are two versions of this challenge – Speedrun, and Speedrun RT. Speedrun is a basic speedrun mode that follows the rules of the base game. Time only moves when you move. This includes the actual speedrun timer. Stop moving and the timer will stop counting up. Getting through these is pretty simple – and RedTiming them (Beating the par time for that stage) shouldn’t pose too much trouble.
Speedrun RT, however, is a different beast. There is one very simple difference that makes it much, much more challenging. The RT stands for “Real Time” – which means that these speedruns happen in real time, and the timer is always counting, regardless of what you do. This means that is a stage has a par time of 10 seconds – it means you need to beat the stage in an actual 10 seconds. Hope you’ve practiced weaving through bullets and shooting in real time.
Trophy-wise, there isn’t anything too daunting here – although the Platinum will require you to RedTime every Speedrun and Speedrun RT level, as well as unlock all of the Endless arenas which will take a decent chunk of time. Everything else is mostly just grinding kills with specific weapons (Which results in a rather humorous series of trophy names) and finding things hidden within the campaign.
Overall, SUPERHOT is a very unique, enjoyable experience. The campaign is a bit short – but the game is more about speedrunning and finishing levels as quickly as possible that it is about a complex, deep narrative.
If you’re looking at SUPERHOT to scratch a story-driven itch, you’re very likely to be disappointed. The story here is interesting as I mentioned before, but again, it isn’t the main focus and really only serves to give you practice for the challenge modes and speedruns. Much like how the campaign in a game like Unreal Tournament III only serves as an introduction to the multiplayer modes.
At $25 on PS4, I can easily recommend SUPERHOT to any player looking for an interesting take on the shooter genre.
Honestly – I already liked this game back in its early days. The concept of a shooter where you manipulate time with movement rather than some silly active power always interested me. The gameplay videos I’d seen of it, and the time I’d spent with it personally had me hooked back in 2013 with the Unity web demo.
There’s a reason this game got all kinds of awards and nominations that year – it was a breath of fresh air in a sea of same-y shooters. Where nearly every shooter was trying to be a new Call of Duty or Battlefield – SUPERHOT was there, trying something new and unique.
Kudos to you, SUPERHOT team.