- Superhot Team
- Single Player
- Playstation 4
- PC, Xbox One
Superhot is an oddity among the games I’ve played this year. For so many reasons it stands out, and for other reasons it left me wanting more. In one sense it reminded me of the games I used to play: the kind where you’re left with tiny margins of error and massive dopamine rushes as rewards. Superhot also offers a unique, almost turn-based style of combat – something I have yet to experience in another first person shooter. It’s more akin to what you’d expect Neo from The Matrix to experience than what the Point Man would’ve in Monolith’s brilliant but underrated F.E.A.R. It’s a mashup of various mediums from John Woo action movies all the way to Doom. Superhot feels like an action movie and plays like one. Is it the film you want to play, though? Let’s take a deeper look.
When you launch Superhot, the robotic chant of the game’s title urges you on to begin. Which you will happily concede to, because there’s something unique to this game, you sense it before you kick off. So you begin the game and the first few levels load. The idea of time only moving when you do is a strange mechanic, because after playing kinetically charged titles like Titanfall 2 or Call of Duty, one senses that there’s a certain strategic value to Superhot’s seemingly plodding pace. I found that rushing into combat didn’t work the first time, and instead focused on improving my own situational awareness.
It’s the larger field of vision as compared to other titles that gives it away. Unlike other games which use realistic graphics to draw you in, Superhot wants to know you’re in a simulation. The minimal, cell-shaded graphics were a great lesson in visual design. Enemies were the right shade of red, while clever use of grey, white and black made Superhot’s levels contrast well despite the bright colour scheme. I would surely not call Superhot’s graphics brilliant, but certainly well implemented. There’s a significant amount of “rinse and repeat” gameplay you’re going to have to go through here as each level progressively requires more precision, and thought but follows the same expected flow you’ll become accustomed to.
In short, you might learn a tactic that works and build on it as you move through the game. Some areas might require you to take cover behind pillars more than others. One memorable area had me finding a set of stairs I could use to bottleneck my opponents’ approach, since there was no other viable cover within the level; Another had me take control of higher damage weapons to kill more than one enemy at once. As you become more competent, the game turns up the difficulty by changing enemy combinations, forcing you to think and act faster until you develop a rhythm. This is probably my favourite style of difficulty management, and one put to good use in Superhot. Watching your perfect execution as you completely avoid getting hit is wonderful. I wish I could experience this with more games.
The ragdoll physics reminded me of the days when inverse kinetics were new and excessive. Watching every body you destroy contort itself into uncomfortable positions never gets old, and is a testament to the Unity Engine’s unique flexibility.
Superhot’s main campaign lasts around 3 hours, which isn’t much considering there is no multiplayer. There are however horde modes where you try to achieve a personal best taking down as many opponents as possible within a single run. While fun at first, it does wear out fast and is not as entertaining as the campaign mode. There is a speed run mode, and various weapon challenges to keep you going once you complete the main game. You could easily add a good 13-14 hours if you decide to run Superhot to completion. Overall, Superhot has solid replay value for the R399 you’re paying for it on the PS4.
I praised Superhot’s minimalist design, but there is a dark side to minimising your game design scope. The shooting is effective, brilliant at times but falls flat considering there are only three guns to use throughout. There are no alternate fire modes here. As for movement, you can’t crouch or slide but can jump. Jumping usually resulted in death since Superhot’s enemies had such high accuracy, and the most effective dodging happens on the horizontal plane instead. There were no explosives to use apart from environmental items such as fire hydrants. Melee weapons also demanded smarter timing than projectile types, and for many, including myself, sticking to a pistol most of the time was enough to complete the game.
The last, and perhaps greatest gripe I’ve got with Superhot is the lack of enemy variety. You kill every enemy with one shot if you’re not using bare fists. I kept wanting differently armoured opponents who fired slower, and lighter more agile ones to contrast them. A part of me wanted to face ninjas with katanas and shurikens. I also wanted to destroy the environment with papers, wood chips and concrete bits flying all over the place. Superhot could’ve been so much more animated, so much more alive – so much like a certain scene in The Matrix. The melee combat lacked depth, as effective as it was at close range.
I also hope that the slow motion mechanic gets expanded upon in the next Superhot Team title, with more real time movement integrated. A health and stamina system could add massive depth to a game using this mechanic. I’d also ask for more parkour-style run and gun gameplay, perhaps even some wall running. I suspect that if even some of these suggestions saw implementation, we’d see the rebirth of a certain sub-genre of the first person shooter which F.E.A.R. lived and died with – and one I’d imagine could be quite exciting to behold again.
To conclude, Superhot is the promise of something great if followed up well enough. The minimalist visual design can stay, and the bullet-time too. If the Superhot Team expands on the movement systems, guns and enemy variety as well as environment interactivity, there’s great potential for the next title in the works. I’d also ask for a more fleshed out single player campaign with larger, more expansive levels integrating that great run and gun gameplay style. Superhot Team, you have my attention. Please sirs, can I have some more?
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