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Superhot VR (PlayStation 4) artwork

Superhot VR (PlayStation 4) review


SUPERHOT is a first-person shooter where you play a protagonist who is playing a first-person shooter in a virtual reality setting. So, it shouldn't be much of a surprise the devs decided to make a VR sequel. If you never played the original SUPERHOT, then you might be thinking that's the only thing this successive rendition has going for it, and you would be wrong. The driving concept of the game involves time: when you move, time moves on, but when you stop, time crawls to a near halt. This definitely makes for unique situations, as you have to slowly, cunningly figure out how to dodge and counter red polygonal enemies wielding pistols, shotguns, and other weapons, especially since a single hit kills you.

No doubt, being thrust into an actual virtual reality setting makes for a more personal experience, but is it such a difference from the original game? Well, to be frank: SUPERHOT VR does more to impress within its opening tutorial than the first game does within its opening stages. The controls and how you encounter scenarios are both completely different and much more engrossing. But to fully understand the leaps it took, you need to understand how the first game functions. If you remove the slow time feature from the equation, its predecessor operates like a normal shooter; you fire a gun, shotgun, or rifle with a simple press of a button; you punch with the simple, rapid press of a button; you toss objects at whatever your cursor is pointing at with the simple press of a button.

However, with SUPERHOT VR's tutorial, you are asked to do daring feats, and do so while standing in one spot the whole time; yes, you lose the ability to walk from the first game, but you gain so much surprising fluidity and immersion for this so-called "sacrifice." One of the first things you're taught is to punch polygonal beings. Just press a button? No, instead you're tasked with doing a swinging motion using one of the two Move controllers in your possession. It's a gratifying feeling as you connect and watch a polygonal head shatter to pieces. Just... make sure you don't accidentally knock something or someone in real life as you perform it. With the amount of stretching and reaching, you'll need ample space and distance for the camera to pick up your actions.

Note: the headset's vision is much larger than what the PS4's capture tech is showing.

In another tutorial piece, you're weaponless, with no guns or objects nearby to pick up, and you have a baddie running straight at you, gun ready to fire. You assume something will happen at the very last second, but bullets begin flying and you're left with one option: bob and weave with your headset like you're The One. You think this won't work... but it's happening, and you're barely dodging bullets and watching their long, red streaks whiz past your eyeballs. When the enemy is finally close enough, you reach out with one of your Move controllers to snatch the weapon away, which is tense itself since you're doing this meticulously within the time concept. Every single head and hand movement you make forces time forward, even by a little bit. You're hoping the gun that's two inches away from your headset view won't go off as you grab it...

You won't be going through the entire experience just using one Move controller, either, as multiple scenarios demand using both. One reoccurring act involves taking someone out without looking, because you're too busy trying to punch another person AND dodge bullets flying in from a distant shooter. You will get a trophy for this feat, too, for being cool. SUPERHOT VR is like that: it intentionally set up structures where you have no choice but to look like a badass as you succeed. Out of bullets and someone is already shooting at you? Block that piece of metal with the gun, then toss the weapon in their face, but make sure you aim and throw correctly! Or better yet, parry multiple projectiles from a shotgun blast... with a knife. Don't have a knife to fight with? Screw it, grab one of the game's new additions: a shuriken. Because hell yeah, shurikens.

Though, in spite of the advancements the devs made to the template in VR, they managed to carry over the exact issues that plagued the first title. The game just... ends, which is unfortunate for a title that can easily be completed in one playthrough. There's a finale and such, but the journey towards the climax feels somewhat abrupt in a "Okay, bye!" sort of way. They even follow the same, odd mistake of introducing a new ability late in, to the point where it feels shoehorned. This power allows you to use a sonic wave-style attack with a cooldown, which is basically a free hit on one enemy. The messed up part? You'll be too adsorb with the engaging main controls, that you'll likely forget this ability exists. Even more if you take a break between sessions. Why use it if you're already having fun with the basic mechanics?

Just like the first game, too, you'll get to dive into some challenges once the main mode has concluded. From a hardcore mode where time moves faster with every movement and where every gun has one shot, to a head shot mode and two speed run hurdles, these challenges are, again, really just variations of the main event. However, even though they might come off repetitive in concept, the VR angle does make them a tad more challenging, due to the extra incentive to move and attack more properly. Though, the level layouts in some of these challenges are a bit questionable. One stage in head shot mode, for instance, places you on a ledge overlooking distant opponents. You have limited ammo and the enemies are constantly moving around, one even running away. If all ammo is exhausted, that's it; you can't even rely on them getting close due to the ledge handicap...

Despite sharing very similar flaws, SUPERHOT VR still manages to outshine its predecessor; the devs took something that seem like it could only work as a tech demo, and managed to make it into a competent video game. In VR, no less. However, there's one major factor to consider when purchasing the game: it's only playable using the Move controllers. If you purchased a VR set without those included, would investing in $100 sticks be worth it just for this? Considering the cons, especially the short length... no. But if you do own a pair, SUPERHOT VR gives off a more hopeful vibe when compared to the first game. As long as the devs don't repeat the same, glaring mistakes that bogged down these first two entries when making a sequel or expansion, the franchise's future is looking more optimistic.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (April 10, 2019)

Hopefully Pixel Ripped will pull a "Witch & Hero" and have a great third game, if it ever happens.

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