If I followed the game’s instructions, I’d tell you simply that this was one the most innovative shooters I’ve ever played. I won’t be telling you why I’m supposed to say that, or even how the game goes about telling me to say that, but I feel compelled to say it.
And now I’ve opened my review of SUPERHOT with a quip that you’ll only truly understand if you’ve played the game.
That’s just it, though. SUPERHOT can only really be understood through experience. The game is wild, bizarre, unique and absolutely fantastic. It’s a shorter ride, though there’s plenty to unearth through playing further, but this thing is a well-paced, insane blast.
SUPERHOT is super hot. How’s that for an on-the-box quote?
Time only moves when you do.
SUPERHOT is a pretty nifty game in concept. Essentially, you’re dropped into a space with these, as the game calls them, “red dudes” coming after you. You’ll learn quickly that time in the game almost stands still if you don’t move. There’s a little motion there, enough to push you to make a decision, but not so much that the game flies by you.
So, as you’re taking these baddies on, you’re constantly looking around, seeing where they’re coming from, deciding when to disarm them, when to shoot, how to dodge and when to ditch a gun.
What you get from this is an FPS with a uniquely strategic approach. You can’t just run in to a situation, throwing caution to the wind with guns blazing. One bullet or sword hit means death, both for you and the red dudes, and that means that you have to be cautious and use this time thing to your advantage.
You’re tossed into a stage, you isolate the reds, you kill them and then one gets a quick round off from a corner you didn’t check. It happens a lot, and the game smartly features a very fast restart feature. Trial and error are the key here, and you’ll wind up trying stages again and again on your way to completing the story. There is a story, too, but we won’t be touching that.
You don’t want this thing spoiled. It’s insane.
Killstagram and feeling powerful.
After you beat each stage in SUPERHOT, the level is played back to you in real time with an odd voice repeating “SUPER” and “HOT” over and over again. That’s intentional, but I won’t explain why.
On the PC, you can actually upload a replay of your gameplay to a service called Killstagram. Yep, seriously. The replay actually occurs in real time, too, not game time. So what you wind up with is this 10-15 second long clip of murder that recaps what likely took you 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how hard the level was.
Here’s one of the harder early stages from my playthrough posted to Killstagram from within the game. I’m not allowed to embed it, so you’ll have to open a new window.
As of now, the videos cap at 360p. That might be a permanent restriction, but I’m not sure. The game looks much, much better in real motion.
Watching these replays, even from within the game and not on Killstagram, makes you feel super powerful. I’m talking total badass as you move from kill to kill, later hopping into other bodies, punching, throwing and stealing guns. The game feels incredible during play, but you look pretty amazing with these replays, and that’s always a nice reward.
Fourth wall? Broken.
What about the how and why? This game does have a story to tell and commentary to deliver, but I still refuse to explore exactly what it is and how they go about doing it.
Understand, though, that the fourth wall is broken in a really nice way here. You’ll be reminded of yourself constantly, and the way SUPERHOT does this while representing itself as both a game and more than a game is so bizarre that it begs discussion.
I like that. I like that I’m looking forward to talking about this game with someone who’s played it. I really want to find out if there’s messaging here that I should be picking up on. Or, hey, am I inserting my own crap into this narrative? Hard to say, but I want to know.
SUPERHOT is a wild ride with a one-of-a-kind approach to gameplay.
To call SUPERHOT compelling would be an understatement. If you like bizarre and novel affairs with equally strange approaches to gameplay, this game should be on your radar. It’s a little too brief for my tastes, though there is extra content to pad the experience out beyond the 100 minutes it takes to see the credits.
Right, it’s short. For the price, though? This one is worth it.
SUPERHOT won’t be for everyone. If you love FPS games like Call of Duty and Battlefield only, then you shouldn’t expect a similar experience here. SUPERHOT is neither of those games.
This is an action puzzler, almost. It’s hyperviolent and insane, but it presents those qualities in a way that only thinkers will love.
I dug it. If you’re like me, you’ll dig SUPERHOT, too. The title is out on PC today, and it’s coming to the Xbox One down the line.
Disclaimer: We received a code to download and review SUPERHOT on PC. We completed the game before starting this review.