Never send a human to do a machine’s job.
When you delve into SUPERHOT for the first time, you will be excited by its creativity and style. You have the mind of the Flash, but the body of a mere human. When standing still, time does not progress. Take any action or turn the camera more than just a little, and time will move forward. This turns the virtual world of SUPERHOT into a chess version of your typical first person shooter. As long as you can avoid getting bottlenecked into gunfire, you can reign supreme. To keep it interesting, you will be Quantum Leaped into some sticky situations. The story is deeply ingrained into the experience–and the game is short–so you will not find spoilers here.
SUPERHOT feels a bit like Portal meets The Matrix with its unusual virtual reality storyline and puzzle-adding approach to playing a shooting game. Later, towards the end of the game, you get the ability to shed your skin and send your mind & awareness into an enemy’s body. This ability is set to a timer to keep it from being overused. It allows you to attract a bunch of bad guys to being blasted in a shotgun crossfire, and leap into someone else’s body just in time to save yourself. This ability, coupled with the captivating way the story unfolds, gives off a very sci fi vibe. Nostalgia seems to be a key term in describing a lot of indie games lately, and this one is no different. You feel like you might be the white rabbit, rather than the one who chases it, when you complete this game.
Each level is nothing more than an intense combat scenario. You are like an agent from The Matrix and have been summoned into the level after danger has been detected. You can pick up and throw weapons and small objects. Thrown items will disarm and stun enemies on impact, then crumble. Katanas, machine guns, and dishes are all up for grabs. Guns have very limited ammunition. So it is a good thing that bad guys stand out starkly as blood red objects in an otherwise colorless world–oh, and they are made out of glass. The simplistic polygonal look of the game play feels appropriate given the story.
While the game wraps up in only two or three hours, the experience of how the story is told is intense. We have seen a lot of man vs. machine plots in the recent past. So your mind might go into a fit of familiarity. The allusions to popular science fiction being thrown at us in this game help make the storytelling effective. Towards the middle, you might know exactly how it will play out based on what you know of the genre. The style of how everything unfolds is amazing and keeps the story gripping. The strange cinematic experience somehow perfectly compliments the game play and makes SUPERHOT very cohesive.
There are extras included in SUPERHOT that add some replayability. There is an endless mode where the bad guys keep coming. There are a slew of challenges to strive to complete. There is an ASCII art section. Also, a way to share your replays is built into the game. This game has been out less than a week and has met great critical and commercial success. The developers have come out saying they will be adding more content, such as levels, to SUPERHOT. These additions to a relatively short experience are welcomed, if not needed. The innovation in SUPERHOT is so strong that we will very likely see some of its mechanics in more games, hopefully one of them being a sequel, soon.