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SUPERHOT (PC) artwork

SUPERHOT (PC) review


"Super slick, super cool and later on super challenging... Now if only the game told me what it was called..."


I’m all for innovation when it comes to blending genres to create something new and noteworthy, and SuperHot’s early prototype certainly had me intrigued when I first saw it. Never mind the strange, unseen narrator who references the game’s title ad nauseum or the shattering of red people like panes of glass, it was the nature of having a partial control of time while dodging bullets and dispensing your own in a slick, effortlessly stylish manner that sold me. The final product does deliver on its original proof of concept, but not without a few issues making things needlessly bothersome near the end.

Stand still and time moves at a crawl. Move or attack and time moves normally. This is the fundamental gimmick of SuperHot; making your character feel like a nigh-godly action hero who dispatches enemies effortlessly… Except your character is made of even more fragile glass than the enemies. Enemies are killed instantly when they’re hit by a bullet, struck with a melee weapon or in seldom cases meet their demise via the environment, the exception being a three hit punch combo. You on the other hand can’t even take one punch without falling to the ground and dying horribly. Thus each level requires a chaotic ballet to avoid all sources of damage, otherwise you’re sent right back to the start of the level. Dying and restarting only takes a few seconds which is good since you’re likely to die on a constant basis while trying to figure out just the right way to tackle the opposition in front of you. Levels can be completed in multiple ways and styles, like throwing your empty gun at an enemy to stun him and grab the gun he drops so you can turn around and shoot down someone chasing you, then throw the new gun and beat the original enemy to death. Completing a level will have the game replay your endeavours in real time, making your assault look like one seamless act of quick thinking and fancy moves.

Often times there is a -lot- going on in SuperHot to track and manage in terms of threat to your livelihood, so thankfully the visuals have been designed to give players the best chance at survival. The world is shades of white and grey, enemies and their bullets trails are unmistakable red while weapons and bullets are an easily noticeable black. Even with the visuals being so clear on what’s a viable item for self-defense and what’s going to end you, it’s easy to move around or try to take a shot and get blindsided by a baseball bat upside the head or take a bullet in the back. Enemies have set spawns in the levels, so part of the challenge comes from knowing where to look and when - Spawn camping has never felt more justified. Of course there’s an incredible satisfaction in turning around quickly enough to see a bullet getting ready to pierce your ear only to calmly shuffle out of the way to avoid it, or being suppressed by an enemy with an assault rifle only to bob and weave past his stream of bullets and bop him in the mouth to disarm him.

While intercepting incoming bullets with your own or throwing a weapon at a slug to save yourself is a neat trick and all, there is a -very- rare but very bizarre case of your fired bullets and thrown weapons outright despawning when you look away. If you toss an empty pistol at an enemy only to look away to punch another, there’s a faint chance that the pistol will have completely disappeared by the time you look back. Combine this with slightly spotty hit detection when it comes to your character taking a fatal bullet or the range for melee strikes being unreliable with respect to whether you can actually strike even when the visual cue is active and later levels end up becoming far more tense and consequence ridden than I would’ve liked. Despite there being a visual notification on enemies when you’re in melee range, attacking can end up with an embarrassing whiff and your character eating whatever punishment they have in mind, which is quite bad when you’re up against multiple enemies armed only with your fists and them with firearms.

The main campaign won’t take all that long even with repeated deaths, and the story that goes along with it can largely be discarded, but there are a few clever elements to the plot and how it interacts with the main menu, which emulates a DOS-style home computer that the player character is seated at. Completing the game unlocks speed run and survival modes along with special challenges which throw a wrench into the equation like having only a sword and no other weapons, or having your teleport ability (unlocked in the campaign) available from the start but have your weapons limited to your fists which now instantly kill enemies. Although the majority of these modes take place in the campaign levels, being able to tackle old challenges with new tricks or handicaps can force new, clever strategies out of the player.

SuperHot doesn’t last all that long which is a shame for a game that uses such a great, slick gimmick. I’d argue that the game is a puzzler that just so happens to have guns in it, and after 3 hours I was disappointed that there wasn’t much else to solve excluding the unlocked bonus modes. Credit where due, the developer even decided to make a series of extra modes to extend game time and enjoyment of SuperHot, which would’ve been a short one-trick-pony experience without. It’s a very cool game with a great series of mechanics that ends all too soon, but beyond that I can certainly recommend SuperHot for anyone who wants a combination of shooter and puzzle games that still brings something of its own to the table.

4/5

Dinoracha's avatar
Community review by Dinoracha (March 14, 2016)

Dinoracha is a world-renowned internet famous Let's Player, voice actor, writer, reviewer, e-sports competitor, masterful stream host and man of the people. These may or may not all be gross exaggerations.

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honestgamer posted March 14, 2016:

Excellent review. I've been curious about this game, after seeing people praise it all over the place, and you covered the details I'm most likely to care about in a logical fashion that gave me a sense for how it might feel to play. Thanks!

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