From the outside looking in, Superhot looks like a minimalist first-person shooter. However, once I started digging my hooks into it, it comes across as more of a puzzle game than anything else. Every level is an encounter that has to be solved in a set of moves. Time only moves when the player does, and one hit equals death. It is an interesting concept that flips the genre on its head. The real question is does it have enough to keep it interesting from start to finish?
Every room entered in Superhot is a puzzle that needs to be solved. There are clear threats, as well as hidden threats, and everything has to be solved in one go. Time moves when the player performs an action, such as moving, attacking, or firing a bullet. The enemies come at the player with force, and knowing the surroundings is crucial. One mistake and the level has to be restarted.
Platforms: XB1, PC
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
What is cool is that upon completion we get to see the entire run played out in real time, and it is stylish. Watching my character dodge two bullets, jump over a car, then smash an enemy in the face, take their gun, and headshot the guy behind him, is awesome. What is annoying though is the voice repeating “Superhot” over the entire replay. It caused me to skip it almost every time. Players can also edit and save the replays, which is really cool.
Sticking with the style aspect, the menu system is extremely unique. The game presents itself as an old computer interface, complete with exposed .exe files. The premise behind it is that the player is playing a cracked game they are receiving from a user inside a chat program. On Xbox One players pull the triggers to type their predetermined chat. What is even cooler is navigating around the interface, loading readme files and checking out other hidden items within the menu. It is a metagame within the game.
My biggest issue with Superhot is that the puzzles are not all that unique. The game clocks in at just a few hours, but even before that ran its course, I was bored with what it was offering. The encounters were never overly challenging, and most of my deaths arose from a spawning enemy I forgot to check for. Lots of trial and error and the limitations of how to tackle situations ran dry. It is a cool concept, just not one that is fleshed out enough to keep it interesting throughout.
The visual style is excellent. I loved watching enemies shatter into shards after a successful hit. The team also nailed the sound effects. I knew when I was doing something right, and it was extremely satisfying. While stylish, the simplistic look also doesn’t help the journey. Levels start to blend together, and even the endless mode didn’t do much to keep me coming back.
I wanted to love Superhot more than I did, but its simplistic design and lack of variety really hurt it, even with its short campaign length. Still, there is nothing like it out there, and I applaud the developer for executing such a unique idea on the first try. With a bit more variety and options to tackle situations I would definitely be interested in seeing where the series goes from here. As it stands it is hard to recommend to everyone for the entry price.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.