Time is on your side in Superhot, a first-person shooter where the world moves when you do. Should you give its setting of starts and stops a go, or should you not give this one the time of day?
Bullet-time mechanics may be played out (just ask Max Payne), but Superhot does things a little differently. Time slows to a crawl when you’re not performing any actions, with bullets and bad guys inching their way to your destruction when you’re standing still.
As a result, the playstyle you choose varies greatly as you work your way through its 30 or so levels. It’s a one-shot one kill world, one that punishes mistakes with a swift kick back back the to the beginning. Newcomers will likely take things slow, lining up shots with pinpoint precision and taking their sweet time. However, once the style of the game sinks in and the enemy placement becomes more known, more brash maneuvers can be done. The true joy of Superhot comes through mastery of its system – this is one game that makes you feel downright unstoppable once you get past its learning curve.
It’s just a shame that the mechanics don’t go any deeper. Sure, there are weapons, throwable objects and the body-swapping “hot switch” ability, but there isn’t tons to work with beyond that. Guns fall into the pistol, assault rifle or shotgun category, limiting the number of options for your trigger finger. The chance to go all Neo from the Matrix is sorely limited as well, with no parkour or overly crazy abilities. It feels like a missed opportunity, though one that can easily be remedied in a sequel.
Tying all of this shooting and slicing together is a story that is positively meta. Superhot is essentially a game within a game, one that you talk about with you buddy via IM. It’s an interesting dynamic, one that turns its storytelling on its head and comes with a few surprises throughout its tale. The whole shebang lasts about two hours (less if you’re good at the game, more if you’re bad), and unlocks both a Challenge and Endless mode upon completion. The Endless mode is just how it sounds, with a barrage of enemies coming at you indefinitely. Challenge mode, on the other hand, limits your options and forces you to master areas with limited inventory or skills. Both are welcome additions, but the inclusion of such features as daily challenges or leaderboards would have given it some legs. Even a grading system would have gone a long way. As it stands right now, this is one game that is far fresher on its first playthrough.
Superhot is a welcome surprise for 2016. As one of the more unique FPS games out there, its style will keep you hooked for its duration. It might not have the legs or depth of its competition, but it makes up for that in terms of sheer style.