Superhot has certainly had a journey to get here: Originally conceived as a gamejam concept that the team went to Kickstarter to make a game out of it. The game boasts a very clever mechanic that along with the aesthetics helps to elevate it to Hotline Miami levels of feeling like a bad-ass. While it may be on the short side, this is still one hell of a ride.
The game’s story is that your friend has just given you a program called SUPERHOT, that takes you to this strange game where you shoot red guys in random environments. As you get further into the game, the story starts to reveal something mysterious and strange about the program and what it’s doing to you.
With that said however, the real reason to play Superhot is for one of the most brilliant mechanics devised for a FPS. The game’s trick is that time only moves when you do (there is slight motion when you are standing still ; presenting a world entirely built around bullet-time. Bullets move through the air allowing you to dodge, shoot or even cut them with a sword. Both you and the enemies can only take one bullet, which gives the game that same high-paced action similar to Hotline Miami.
While the game is meant to be played slowly, as you time your actions for maximum effect, the rush of moving fast and taking out enemies, throwing their weapons to stun and other maneuvers makes Superhot one of the most exciting games I’ve played in some time.
The game also has a challenge mode, endless mode and the ability to upload your replays.
SuperHot is another strong example of a game built around one core mechanic that is taken to its extremes. Unfortunately, that is as much a positive as it is a negative.
SuperHot’s main mechanic is certainly the showpiece of the game and makes for a great system; however, the overall game does become repetitive. There is only one enemy type, three kinds of guns and the katana and the random items to throw around. Due to the limited number of weapons, that creates a limited number of viable tactics. While you do get one special power later in the game, it’s not enough of a game changer to affect how the levels are played.
Similar to Hotline Miami, most of your deaths will occur off screen, specifically in how enemies in many levels will spawn in set locations. Until you know their spawn points, you’ll have to constantly be on the lookout or you’ll take a shot in the back.
SuperHot walks that line between streamlined and simple, and I would have liked more advanced actions to help liven things up. The ability to shoot bullets or slice them with the katana is helpful, but it’s very hard to aim that way and most of the time it’s not worth the effort.
The story mode is very short and the game was designed to offer replayability in the form of the challenge and endless mode, along with finding secrets in each level.
I think a score attack mode or option similar to Hotline Miami or Bulletstorm would do wonders for giving players both a reason and reward to learn advanced play. Despite unlocking various modes and variants of play, none of them do enough to change the base gameplay; providing breadth and not depth.
One final point that may hurt the game’s appeal is the price. Coming in at $25 normally may be pushing a game built around one mechanic too far, but that will ultimately be up to the consumers to decide.
Superhot is one of those ideas that it feels odd that nobody has thought of before, and yet it works in such an amazing way; the game’s design and aesthetics easily make it one of the standout games this year. As the first attempt from this team, it shows a lot of promise for their studio and I hope that this is the start of an amazing track record for them. For a closer look at Superhot, you can watch me take on some levels in my video spotlight.