Genre: First Person Shooter
Release date: 2/25/2016
Platform: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux
Playtime: 4 hours
Superhot is one of the most innovative shooters I’ve played in years. This game started small and was created during a 7 day game jam that took place on 2013. The free Superhot demo was released with a great deal of praise from the gaming community, and the developers decided to try and make it into a full fledged game. The developers started by launching a Kickstarter with great success; by the end of their campaign they had raised over $250,000.
But enough with history, let’s get to the game shall we? The best way to explain Superhot is ‘unique’. Everything about the game is different from most games in its genre. Visually, the game is very simple, opting to use very few colors, and utilizing simple polygonal models. Much like the look of Mirror’s Edge, the simplistic stylized look of Superhot works well with this type of game; along with the good looks, it also functions to help the gameplay bring focus to your objectives and enemies. The sounds and music of the game are also very well done. The game only uses music when 100% necessary, and usually opts for silence to give you an advantage to scout out where your enemies are without needing to see them, but when the music does kick in, like in final boss mission for instance, it always fits in well with what you are trying to accomplish. Plus, the slow droning “SUPER-HOT-SUPER-HOT” at the end of every mission has a strange way of getting you hyped up for the next mission, while also giving you a moment to gloat for surpassing the last mission’s challenge.
What about looks and sound, though. The real meat of the game is embedded in its gameplay. Superhot has a very basic premise: time moves when you do. While stopped you are able to look around and see incoming projectiles or figure out your situation, but at soon as you move, the world jumps into action. Your character can be killed in only one shot so you must always be on the lookout for the the location of all of your enemies, and even more importantly, their bullets. This leads to some interesting (and extremely difficult) challenges, and you will die… a whole lot. By the time I finished the game I had probably died well over 300 times: luckily the game is very forgiving and gives you a instant respawn. Superhot also definitely rewards creativity and allows you to try different tactics to finish (or fail) most missions.
In the end, though, with all the gold that this game gives us, there are some small gripes I need to point out. One of the most major problems with the game is that the amount of content received for the price of $25 feels a bit lacking sometimes. I played the game all the way through, start to finish, in one night. It took me about an hour and a half to complete the entire campaign, and I’m not even that good at most action based FPS games. Anyone especially good at twitch shooters or first person shooters in general could probably finish this game in less than 2 hours. The developers try to remedy this by adding in challenge modes and endless modes, but even with these added, the game still feels short. The challenges can definitely be fun, but they are often just the same maps with an added level of difficulty. After completing the game, I felt like the game’s $25 price tag is just too high for the amount of content you get. However, the game does have a secretly “evil” technique to help reinforce sales. After you have completed the main campaign of the game you are given the opportunity to recruit for the game by generating a 10% coupon as many times as you want forever. This is one of the most unique marketing ideas I have ever seen a developer implement, and it was amazingly effective as well. I personally gave out at least 12 codes to friends and other people within my gaming circles, and you can still actively see other users on the Steam forums giving these codes out en masse. It would be cool to see if this is used in the future with other games as well.
The final issue I had with Superhot is its tendency to get a little bit repetitive by the end. Maybe this is a saving grace for the longevity of the game, but I found after sitting for a couple hours that I was getting sick of the gimmick. I still was enjoying the challenge, and was still having fun, but it seemed that I was just playing through the mission to see the next story snippet or the next map. Especially in some missions that would take 40 deaths to complete, the gameplay got a bit stale. With that, I feel that Superhot is not meant to be played all in one sitting, but with the player coming back every couple days to make a bit more progress, much like how the player character would in the game. On the subject of the story: I will explain the reasoning why I haven’t mentioned it so far. Superhot’s story is weird, compelling, and all around fantastic, but it’s hard to explain without giving away too many spoilers. So if you want to see more of the story, I would highly recommend buying the game and playing through it yourself, instead of reading the story or watching a playthrough. It is really that good. In fact I would even go as far to say that “Superhot is one of the most innovative shooters I’ve played in years!”