Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox One
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy first-person shooters, it's very possible that you'll dig the way in which Superhot approaches the genre. For those who are FPS fans, it provides a new type of shooting experience that's as insane as it is captivating. For those who aren't, it almost plays out like a puzzle where you mess around with time to find the best solution for clearing each level. The game easily transcends the FPS genre, and it's so gripping that it'll make you want to return to it over and over again.
Time Is On Your Side, So Don't Screw This Up
In a way, it almost seems as if the main objective of Superhot is to make you, the player, feel like a total badass. Time is slowed to the point where it almost seems as if everything around you is completely paused. Once you move, however, enemies also move along with you. Stop, and they stop. Go, and they go. This creates an absorbing pacing that allows you ample time to plan out your course of action.
That's not to say that Superhot gives you an unfair advantage over your foes. The enemies are often armed, they move around the levels in smart ways, and even though you mostly have control of time, you can still get shot by a crazy shotgun spread or a sly baseball bat strike from behind. You may be able to decide when the action occurs, but if you're not careful, you'll fail.
Few enemies are unarmed, while others come at you with blunt weapons. It's not too late in the game when you come across entire gangs of armed dudes out to get you. It's those moments when you're dodging bullets left and right that you feel totally empowered. I recall one particular moment when I was armed with only a katana. As I made my way toward two enemies who awaited me at the end of a hall, I couldn't help but enjoy the intensity of it all as I avoided fire and heard the whooshing of bullets blazing past me.
Failure to play strategically will result in your demise. And because you're dead after one hit, you'll definitely be restarting a few levels over a few times. Figuring out a new plan and approaching the levels in different ways is all a part of the fun, though, and sometimes it's just a matter of taking on enemies in a different order or maybe searching a level to find a gun, bat, or even a TV to throw at enemies.
Speaking of which, throwing stuff at baddies is surprisingly entertaining. Sometimes you've got nothing but a briefcase in front of you while the other dudes are packing serious heat, so what do you do? You snag that briefcase, toss it at an enemy, disarming him in the process, and then you grab his gun out of the air and start popping heads. It's invigorating, and because there's no singular approach to the levels, you can create your own path of devastation. You can then upload your replays, which play out in real-time, to Killstagram so others can witness your badassery.
Red, White, and Black
Superhot keeps the visual flair minimal, but this works in the game's favor. Environments are completely white, bad guys are red, and weapons are black. Everything is heavily polygonal, and when you shoot enemies they shatter like glass, creating a rich visual effect where the red bits beautifully decorate the white backgrounds. It's that very minimalistic style that helps to not only give the game a unique, clean look, but also create an eye-catching sci-fi tone.
The plot of Superhot keeps things similarly minimalist. Between shooting dudes, jumping out of the way of moving vehicles, and avoiding close calls, you're fed tiny bits of narrative, often with interactive retro-styled chat boxes. It starts out a bit vague, but it slowly unravels small pieces of a bigger mystery. The story never really unfolds into something massively profound, but it's a curious little bit of sci-fi storytelling nonetheless. There are even moments where the plot feels a bit meta and makes you wonder whether it's speaking to you as the player directly.
It'll take you about three hours to get through just over 30 levels of Superhot. That's not too long, and I personally wanted the story to keep going for at least a little bit longer. That said, there are unlockable Endless and Challenge modes, the latter of which has you meeting certain criteria, such as taking out bad guys using just a katana. These serve as more than just a distraction and are legitimately compelling to play.
Superhot can get tough in spots, especially in the final act, but it's always a lot of fun. The game invites you into—or rather, it grabs you by the shoulders and pushes you into—its intense world, and allows you to let loose on enemies at your own pace. This approach allows for one of the most riveting, unique, and impressive FPS action romps we've seen in a long time.