Proclaiming something as SUPERHOT is just asking for trouble.
But that’s exactly what the SUPERHOT Team have done with the arrival of SUPERHOT on our consoles. A fairly simplistic looking, strange affair, have the team behind it simply over hyped it from the very beginning? In fact, has the decision to ensure that the name is the loud and proud SUPERHOT and not the standard lower case affair backfired completely? Can the gameplay stand up to the over exaggerated titular promotion?
Without a shadow of doubt, yes. In fact, it’s all rather bloody brilliant.
Set in a world full of grey and white, you could be forgiven in thinking that you’d been transported to the freerunning world of Mirror’s Edge instead of the latest indie title to drop onto Xbox One. But whilst the hues on offer are similar, there ain’t a lot else that is. The moment the first red ‘dude’ (yes, that’s what they are called!) appears on your screen, then those comparisons hit home even more. This is however SUPERHOT, a part strategy, part shooting, full on elegant first person affair that sees you bending time to your own needs. And bend that time you will.
The aim of the game is simple. Clear each stage that you find yourself in of red guys, in pretty much whatever fashion you see fit. Occasionally you will have to run up to them and smash them in the face, other times you’ll need to pick up the nearest coffee mug and chuck it their way. If you happen to stumble upon a weapon – be it katana, pistol, shotgun or rifle – then the chances are it’ll be a good call to use it. Spraying bullets isn’t a possibility though as you’ll find no ammo drops and very quickly run out of the hard stuff needed. Progress further into the action and, as the story drops further details, you’ll also unlock a hotswitch power which allows you to jump straight into the body of a red dude; something which will need to be harnessed fully in order to complete the final few stages. With no health bar and a single shot to any part of your glass like body throwing you right back to the start of the level, you may want to take things slow and steady. For that always wins the race does it not?
Tactical nous is the name of the game and no more does that come true when dealing with the actual gameplay mechanics. The world around you will be stationary; red dudes will stand still, bullets will hover in the air, cars will be sitting around with the handbrake on. That is until you move. And then all hell breaks lose. With each step, each reload, or each turn of the head that you make, the world will move with you. You’ll find yourself dodging bullets forever more and cleverly outwitting the dumb android dudes as each millisecond passes. With shots firing all around, and enemies dropping into the action from numerous angles, you’ll need all your senses to be on point should you wish to survive. Even then, it’ll take you multiple attempts and a huge deal of trial and error for you to clear each stage. Admittedly, and quite thankfully if you ask me, each stage is short – very short – but with many included and all seamlessly blending together and held in place by the narrative, there isn’t a moment in time when you’ll wish they were deeper episodes.
With a story running in the background messing with your mind with each step, the developers at SUPERHOT Team have created something rather special, rather elegant, and rather damn freaky. I’m not going to delve into the finer details of what will happen, what could happen and what might happen here – you’ll have to play it for yourself – but you can be sure that the story included is full of intriguing and mind bending moments. Situations that will have you clamoring to continue your playthrough with very little thought for anything else.
The main campaign found in SUPERHOT can however be completed fairly quickly and without too much fuss – so quickly and so easily in fact that my 13 year old son has finished it in a little over an hour. Granted, he’s young and has reflexes that put mine to shame, and he did of course power on through like kids do, but if you want to experience SUPERHOT for what it truly is then it’s probably best that you spend a little longer messing around with what is on offer. At no point in time could I ever say that the ‘story mode’ is lengthy though and many of the 30+ levels included could, in theory, be over in a matter of seconds. They don’t play out like that though – time is standing still remember!
Thankfully though, the SUPERHOT Team have included a couple of extra options for once the game is done. Admittedly you’ll need to complete the full story first, but once you have, will find an Endless Mode and numerous challenges to get your teeth into. Whilst neither of these will teach you anything new, they are a great way of broadening your SUPERHOT experience.
As you can probably guess, Endless does exactly as it says on the tin. Throwing you back into the action with multiple arenas present, you’ll need to work out where the threat of the red guys is coming from, stay on your toes and despatch as many as you can without dying. With further arenas and those all important achievements unlocked with each and every kill, it’s a great way of wasting a bit of time and testing your reflexes to the nth degree. You may remember me saying that the campaign mode was a bit easy to complete – well Endless will most definitely push you to the limits, cranking up in difficulty the further you wander in.
And then we have the challenges. These bring a bit of variation to SUPERHOT and depending on which ones you decide to get involved with, will see you going into the fight with only a katana equipped, powered up with a super melee attack, hotswitching like your life depends on it and more. With speedrun options also included, the SUPERHOT Team have ensured that there is something on offer for everyone. The only disappointment is that whilst we can see our own personal best times for each challenge, we don’t get the opportunity to compare them against our friends. Speedrunning and leaderboard comparisons are a huge deal for many and with that included, SUPERHOT would have been the ultimate ‘one more go whilst I beat my mate’ title. As it is though, once you’re done with it on a personal level, and completed everything on offer, may find little reason to drop back into the network.
So, we’ve already decided that SUPERHOT is a stunning little game that will mess with your head and have you looking at everything in life slightly differently; the inclusion of a couple of delightfully silly little mini-games and plenty of replay editing features brings innumerable amounts of joy too.
So what’s wrong with it you may ask? Well, you know what? Not an awful lot. Except for the price point. In fact, near on £20 for something that can be completed in just over an hour is just too much to take and will quite possibly stop many people from bothering to check it out. And that’s a shame because if it were marketed slightly lower, then I’d be quite happy to drop a full rating that can’t be topped.
But then, that’s what it is and if we want to play through one of the most stylish, innovative shooters in years, then that’s what we’ll have to pay. Unless of course you just wait for it to drop by 50% in a sale. Whichever option you choose though you’ll be more than happy with your purchase as, other than that damn initial cost, the only thing I don’t like about SUPERHOT is that I have to keep hitting the caps lock button every time I want to type the name.
SUPERHOT REALLY IS SUPER HOT! SUPER HOT! SUPER HOT!
Related: SUPERHOT Video Review