Superhot Review – Time After Time

The most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

01

Developer: SUPERHOT Team
Publisher: SUPERHOT Team
Format: PC
Released: February 25, 2016
Copy provided by Steam

The original demo version of Superhot gained huge amounts of attention, and with good reason. A first-person shooter where time only moves when you do, it presented a concept so deliciously simple, it’s a wonder nobody had thought of it before.

Superhot‘s final form is no less clever, taking the premise and running with it to provide a series of ingenius and challenging levels, as well as endless arena modes and the ability to save and edit replays of one’s own performance.

Each level’s overall goal is fairly simple – eliminate the red guys, whose featureless and polygonal forms relentlessly pursue the player with fists, guns, and melee weaponry. It takes only one hit to put you down, but they can’t do a damn thing until you do.

When you’re stood still, the world is almost motionless. Enemies are very nearly frozen and bullets hang in mid-air, moving at an almost imperceptible pace. The faster you move, the faster everything else moves. This allows the player to perform ridiculous maneuvers, punching enemies and snatching their guns before they hit the ground, dodging incoming ammunition, and tossing katanas directly into unwitting faces.

Progression through a level is, naturally, incremental. You can take as much time as you want to assess the situation, but each move could be your last as you’re surrounded by aggressors and a single misstep could see you catch a fatal bullet.

While you can rush through a stage (and I have no doubt highly practiced players can eventually play this like a regular FPS), the idea is to take it slow, be wary of the environment, and manipulate time to avoid the incoming fire while performing tricks no other FPS allows for.

02

Superhot feels like an interactive version of the fight scenes from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, with players in the role of a protagonist who can outthink their enemies so swiftly the fight is won before it’s even started.

The game’s minimalist aesthetic and clear color coding helps make the game readable, with environments in white, enemies in red, and interactive objects a stark black. Bullets are black with red streaks, identifying them clearly for avoidance.

All black objects may be thrown to make opponents drop their weapons or just delay them, and whatever they were holding can be grabbed and turned against them so fluidly that it’s never not satisfying to pull off. Eventually, players will unlock the “Hotswitch,” allowing them to swap bodies with opponents and further opening up the potential for tricky moves.

Upon completion of a level, a replay shows the action without any of the time delays, showing off just how cool you looked dodging gunfire and flipping shotguns on people. While the game’s pitch-shifted announcer declares “SUPER! HOT!” over the footage, it’s hard not to feel like the smoothest dude in Swaggertown every time you get through a stage.

Superhot is presented from a hub that resembles an old computer monitor, like a less visually assuming version of Her Story. The initial campaign lays the metaplot on thick, following in the popular footsteps of such games as Calendula and Pony Island. As new levels unlock, players engage in story-driven chat sequences with online NPCs, as well as receive threatening notes from mysterious forces.

04

It’s a cute story, and its conclusion is entertaining in a cheesy way, but it also feels somewhat detracting in a game that needed no narrative and feels intruded upon when exposition rears up. The breaking of the fourth-wall is starting to become an old trick before it’s even really had much time to develop. While it’s not quite Superhot‘s fault, it’s a case of bad timing with so many games dabbling in it right now.

This campaign, however, is just the beginning. There have been complaints that the standard two-hour story makes for a short game, but such criticism ignores the fact there’s much more to do beyond what is essentially the tip of an iceberg. There is a whole host of unlockable endless arenas, challenge stages, and time trials, while the very menu itself hides all manner of secrets and weirdness.

Using KillstagramSuperhot‘s own social network, players can share their edited replays, placing movies of their performances online for an audience of hundreds of thousands. It’ll be interesting to see if this feature has longevity or will expand in any way, but right now it’s a fun little extra and a great way to show off one’s finest moments.

 Superhot could have featured more detailed characters and environments, but I’m not sure I’d have preferred that. It’s easy to say the game looks threadbare in its current form, but I love how clear everything is.

The lack of detail works to produce a definitive clarity, making a game that’s impossible not to visually understand – a crucial element for a game that can be rather tough and requires complete spatial awareness. Besides which, there’s just something glorious about watching a head shatter like glass when it’s shot.

03

 Quite frankly, I think Superhot is absolutely bloody fantastic, and one of the best examples of how a single idea can be iterated upon to create dozens of clever scenarios. It tries a bit too hard to be clever with its writing, but the core of the game is almost perfect in its purity, with all manner of twists and stunts to be discovered through experimentation.

You’ll see talk online about how Superhot is “the most innovative first-person shooter I’ve played in years.” It’s a phrase people who’ve played the game keep using, and there’s a memetic reason for that -one I won’t spoil. I will, however, have to say that I’m on board with the sentiment of the phrase despite any potential ironic usage. Because it is simply true.

Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

Good dog.

9.5/10
Superb

Dillon Rafferty
Guest
Dillon Rafferty

I enjoyed the story :(, also I’d hardly call pony Island undertale and this a trend in fourth wall breaking certainly not an egregious one considering those are the only games up to this point that ive really seen do this.

Joel Ojeda
Guest
Joel Ojeda

if you are not sure about the “length” or the “overpriced” aspect of this game, well this game is all killer no filler. Sometimes a short but satisfiying game is all you need and i can tell you something important a lot of games miss, overstaying their welcome. if the price scares you get it rigth now on GOG.com for 10 bucks.at that price there is no excuse for you to try it. Make your Move!

bob doe
Guest
bob doe

I personally found the game incredibly short, the “challenge” mode was just recycled levels with different handicaps. Though I did enjoy the game and its mechanics I felt the asking price of $20 plus was too much for too little content for a game that I will probably never play again. It felt like it was trying “too hard” to be the new querky game that everyone will be quoting: hence “The most innovative shooter I’ve played in years……” Innovative? Yes, interesting story or narrative… no. First time I’ve ever asked steam for a refund and was happy to get… Read more »

nicethugbert
Guest
nicethugbert

It’s on GOG too, btw.

Kintari
Guest
Kintari

> a concept so deliciously simple, it’s a wonder nobody had thought of it before

You mean except every terminal-based roguelike since Rogue?

Warwick Stubbs
Guest
Warwick Stubbs

Echoing the price issue. It is expensive for a short game, but I definitely do want to play it. Let’s hope there’s a steam sale.

Matrim
Guest
Matrim

I like the idea, but the price point puts me off a bit…also not a big fan of the AI from what I can see. There’s content there, but not sure how much it appeals to me. Will likely pick it up if it has a significant sale at some point.

Maelstrom
Guest

Ugh. I want to play this game so badly, but the price is just too much for its short length.
I guess my cheapness will prevent me from getting it until it goes on a nice sale.
Oh, and I’m not someone who goes for completing everything, btw.

Gervasius
Guest
Gervasius

“one of the best examples of how a single idea can be iterated upon to create dozens of clever scenarios.”
Also one of the reasons I loved Gunslinger so much! Although this game does have the added bonus us of being original.

Nitrium
Guest
Nitrium

“When you’re stood still, the world is motionless. Enemies are frozen solid and bullets hang in mid-air. ”
Sorry Jim, but that is technically not true. Things DEFINITELY move, even when you don’t. Words like “frozen”, “hang” and “motionless” mean exactly that – not “moving very slowly” which is what is actually happening.

John Smith
Guest
John Smith

No, Jim. Cyndi Lauper was not Super Hot.

Great review though.

AlreadyFlying
Guest
AlreadyFlying

But it is hyper-reality; Enemies spawn at ridiculously fast rates and in the stopped-time that you have transferred from one body to the next, all of them have already trained on your new one. So basically you can never trust what you knew about behind you because every slightest move yields up to four directions of targets that are about to kill you. At this point I wish it was top-down perspective because I would find that checking and re-checking repetitive and tiring. Game made for people with OCD.

chrisbrady
Guest
chrisbrady

I want this game. 🙁

c00ch
Guest
c00ch

So, Jim, is the review for Devil daggers next? By far not as innovative, but one of the most engaging shooters for years.

gasmaskangel
Guest
gasmaskangel

I really, really like the game itself but personally I felt the story was right up its own ass. Like you said, it felt like an unnecessary complication of what was otherwise a wonderful time, and personally I immediately start to roll my eyes as soon as it pulls the trick of having what you type be something utterly different than what you entered in the first place. It does that from the start, and then doubles down on it in a moment that feels like it was meant to be sinister and shit, but because it never put the… Read more »

spyro2060
Guest
spyro2060

First, Plants Vs Zombies 2 and now this, two games you’ve given almost perfect 10’s to, this is shaping up to be a good year for games, there’s also Fallout 4 DLC (cause I bought the Season pass, good decision it seems cause I got it prior to the price increase and I’ll still get all of the rest of the DLC) coming this month so I’m looking forward to that

Robert Merlin Cahill
Guest
Robert Merlin Cahill

“Asses the situation” typo. Interested in the game.

JonnyDoLake
Guest
JonnyDoLake

It’s a game made in Unity, by the way 😉

Jack R.
Guest
Jack R.

It looks cool, but I won’t be buying.
Why?
Because for a 3 hour game to be $25 is a bit much.
I do want it, but I feel like the price is way too high for what they are offering at the moment.

dan958
Guest

Hi [FRIENDS_NAME_HERE], you have to check out this game. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

cowboyjimmy
Guest
cowboyjimmy

Give a dog a bone, leave a dog alone

let a dog roam and he’ll find his way home

petethepanda
Guest
petethepanda

SUPER.

Stephen Mc Devitt
Guest
Stephen Mc Devitt

So many great games far. I’m scared you’ll up doing an award for 10 games later this year.

Alexander K
Guest
Alexander K

Should’ve been “SUPER! B!”

XanderBeast
Guest
XanderBeast

I want more games like this, this game is awesome, really hope that this developer is going to make something great as this in the future