Do you hear it? That low, computerized voice repeating, “Super. Hot. Super. Hot,” in your brain? Do you feel the uncontrollable urge to play, ignoring the warnings of the same system you seek to conquer? Do you want to know what Superhot is? It’s pure mind-control and a little bit of the ol’ ultra-violence packaged into an addictive game mechanic. It’s, well, super-hot.
Superhot is a first-person shooter that turns the genre on its head. Time moves at normal speed only when you move. When not moving, everything is slowed to a bullet-time crawl. In doing this, the game evokes the importance of strategy and timing, functioning similarly to a puzzle in FPS form. Players will need to utilize their surroundings to the fullest extent, throwing random objects or punches at their target whenever they can, disarming or shooting before they are shot first. Heavily outnumbered and outgunned at every turn, using your resources wisely and being aware of your surroundings will help to lessen the number of times you die. You will die. A lot. With a little bit of planning and a lot of luck, you’ll eventually survive.
Did I mention this game is a “one shot, one kill” type of game? You get shot once, then you die.
The game starts with a screen that resembles an MS-Dos menu. You receive a message from someone who is – assumedly – your friend, asking if you want to play a game. With the horror-esque foreshadowing out-of-the-way, you say, yes, what is it, with heavy key stokes emitting from the background as you type. Then you enter the virtual vault of a mysterious corporation to play a game called Superhot, an ancient disk drive whirring to life as the game loads from the .exe command in the interface – so meta.
Players have several mechanics at their disposal to survive the onslaught of red men, each introduced as the player completes a level, or scenario. As I mentioned before, the game will allow you to pick up objects and throw them, as well as throw your weapon at an enemy to disarm him and take his weapon. This trick is very useful if you find yourself out of bullets and a red guy within throwing range. You also gain the ability to morph into another body, which especially comes in handy when a shotgun blast is inching to take out your face. Press E and you can transport yourself into the guy who was about to shoot you, but now get to watch die by his own bullets. Satisfying.
Each level resembles a real-world location, dressed in sterile white. You’ll find yourself taking down multiple guys at a subway, in an office, at a construction site, a parking garage, a bar – everywhere, with catchy titles of each level to match. The simple graphics allow the player to focus on the mechanics and, quite frankly, anything more complex or with more color would break the meta-immersion the developers have created.
Multiple breaks in the action work to further the mysterious narrative and combine the dialogue that happens outside the game, inside the game. Sound confusing? Without giving too much away, it’s in a similar vein to “The Matrix.” The narrative approach can get a little on the cheesy-side from time to time, but it feels intentional.
As you move further along, each level will become progressively harder, adding multiple entry points for the red guys and leaving fewer places to take shelter from the hail storm of bullets. If you pay careful attention, you can figure out where each guy spawns and work the room so that you can end up there before he does, ready to take him down. However, this is one of the downfalls of Superhot. Any variation is reactive, based on the player’s choices. Each time you reload the level, the game doesn’t account for variations in spawn points or a randomized timing in which the red guys appear. Unfortunately, this isn’t currently offered as a special challenge mode, either. It would add an entirely new dynamic to the game if players didn’t know beforehand where their enemy was going to appear.
You don’t have the ability to crouch, either. Oversight or intentional? I can’t decide.
One awesome external feature is the option to upload your replays in real-time to their website, killstagram.com, so you can watch and share your John Wick-style headshots with others. (Here’s some of mine.) It’s a nice reward of sorts to record the exact moment you completed a level and ended your 50-plus death streak. It also made me feel like an action movie goddess.
While not revolutionary, Superhot is a fun, unique experience that offers players new challenges after they finish the game. The replayability makes up for a short campaign, but it has the potential to become repetitive and frustrating. Added features like the Killstagram makes it multidimensional, moving the content beyond the game and into the social-sphere.
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Xbox One | Designer: Piotr Kosmala | Developer/Publisher: SUPERHOT Team | ESRB: T | Controls: Mouse/keyboard, Controller
This review copy of Superhot was played on PC via Steam and was provided by the developer.