SUPERHOT is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. SUPERHOT knows this. SUPERHOT even makes a joke out of those exact words at one point during the game, but it’s the truth. There wasn’t a single moment in SUPERHOT where I wasn’t having my mind blown in some way, be it from finding a new way to ruin an enemy’s day or one of the many mid-level fourth wall breaks that elevates SUPERHOT from being something much more than just a stylish shooter and into the realm of pure first person genius.
SUPERHOT does not play like most FPS games. In fact, if I had to find its closest relative, it would probably be the similarly ultra-stylized and hyper violent Hotline Miami, another game focused on maintaining a consistent level of killing things while avoiding a hit. Like in Hotline, a single attack will be enough to do you in, be it a bullet or the broadside of a baseball bat. If you play it like a normal shooter, running around and spraying at anything that moves, you will die. Enemies are mobile, they’re accurate, and they will stop at nothing to have you dead. Thankfully, time is on your side. When you’re not moving, time in SUPERHOT moves at a snail’s pace, and will only begin to move any faster when you’re in motion. You can seamlessly transition from a moment of slow calculating and rapid carnage whenever you want, and then you can slow time again as quickly as you sped it up. This makes the game as tense as it is flashy, constantly calling on you to make do or die decisions. After all, there’s only so long you can stay in suspended animation before the enemy pulls the trigger.
Thankfully, you have plenty of ways of taking foes down. Weapons are scattered about the enviroment, which are picked up and fired in a split second. Sadly, guns can’t be rapid fired, so there’s always the chance that you can bite a bullet in-between shots. This is where the ability to throw weapons comes in, which will disarm your enemy if your makeshift projectile connects, but will destroy your weapon in the process. More often than not, it’s worth giving up your assault rifle just for a small window of opportunity to deliver a close range beat down on your opponent. Or better yet, pluck your foe’s weapons out of the air and use them to off their former wielders. About halfway through the game, you also get the ability to “hotswitch” between enemies, allowing you to abandon your current body for that of a foe. This is on a cooldown, but it’s easily the most deadly tool in your arsenal, allowing you to leap right out of a bullet’s trajectory at any time and get the jump on other enemies.
Levels are appropriately short, most of which lasting only a minute or so. Like the previously mentioned Hotline Miami, you can just hit R at any time and jump back to the start of a stage after a few seconds of loading. Beating levels might not take long, but they sure feel like an accomplishment when conquered, made even better with every level finishing with a constant loop of your run going without slowdowns playing, showing just how insane the game’s movements are at a normal speed.
I was actually caught off guard by just how good SUPERHOT‘s story was. It’s a somewhat predictable cyberpunk-esque plot, but it has a fantastic meta narrative that goes beyond the confines of just a game within a game and starts to seriously screw with you. There’s one particularly creepy moment rather early on where the game makes the most basic interaction with any PC title a plot point that not only makes you dread what’s coming, but it really does hammer in the game’s oppressive storyline of a dystopian future where gaming is more than just a hobby. SUPERHOT owns both the player character and you, but it’s hard to be too upset when giving yourself over to the shadowy organization running the show means you get to play more of SUPERHOT.
And herein lies the largest, and arguably only real flaw with SUPERHOT. It’s short. I had beat SUPERHOT‘s story in just under two hours, and you only unlock new ‘challenge modes’ to play once the main game is complete, most of which are just modifiers for the existing story levels. Basically, SUPERHOT is the equivalent to getting just one scoop of the most delicious ice cream you’ve ever had. It tastes like nirvana, but it’s gone before you know it.
However, this doesn’t bother me too much. The feature-length play time I had with SUPERHOT was easily some of the most fun I’ve had with a game this year. To sum it all up, SUPERHOT is simply super.
SUPERHOT was reviewed on Steam with a key provided by the developer.
A genius shooter close to rivaling legends, sadly cut down by its minuscule running time.