SUPERHOT tells you to tell everyone else that it is the most innovative shooter you’ve played in years.
While this is probably true, what it doesn’t tell you is that the game is only about two hours long, is extremely simple, and yet retails for $25.
SUPERHOT is a very simplistic game with a very cool central mechanic – time moves at an incredibly slow rate of speed, to the point where bullets are crawling through the air towards you as they’re shot. The catch is that when you take actions – picking stuff up, moving around, firing your own weapon – time temporarily moves at normal speed.
Thus, this game is basically like being in bullet time all the time, except when you’re moving.
That is the central conceit of this game, and what little there is revolves around it. As much a puzzle game as a FPS, the real goal of this game is to figure out how to kill all of the enemies which are often coming at you from multiple directions without getting killed yourself. Time progressing at a very slow rate won’t stop you from being gunned down from behind or dying in a hail of bullets down a narrow hallway. Moreover, your own weapons have sharply limited ammo clips and rates of fire, which means that you are constantly having to throw your weapons away (stunning your enemies in the process) to nab new ones.
The game really centers around this – firing your weapon, tossing it (and whatever nearby pick-upable objects you can) at people to make them drop their weapons, grabbing the dropped weapons out of midair, and repeating the process. And in the end, while this is pretty cool in one sense, the game is very limited in another.
There’s only one type of enemy – the red dude – and there are only five types of weapon – pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, baseball bats, and katanas. The pistol fires slowly, the shotgun fires a couple of blasts before you have to toss it away, the assault rifle fires off four bullets in rapid succession with no waiting between bursts, the baseball bat is a bad melee weapon, and the katana is a one-hit kill melee weapon which can be thrown at people to impale them or even slice bullets in half in midair.
All of this SOUNDS really cool, but honestly in practice the game doesn’t feel nearly as cool as it sounds to play. I feel like the central mechanic is really neat, but the limited environments, the limited environmental interaction, the fact that I didn’t have other neat powers (like, say, wall-running or something similar), the fact that the weapons were all kind of samey, and the fact that bullets felt surprisingly slow even in supposed “real-time” all sort of contributed to the game not really feeling much like the power fantasy you’d expect. Rather, it is much more of a puzzle game, about using your attacks in the right order and positioning yourself properly while dodging bullets, as one shot will kill you and force you to start over the (very short) levels.
All in all, the game’s story mode (which is strange and does little to explain itself) takes about two hours to beat, and you’re likely to get bored with the game’s limited mechanics around the point that you beat it. There are challenge and endless modes, but there’s not much more to the game beyond that point, so what’s the point, really?
All in all, this feels like a very short diversion, and the $25 asking price is just not likely to leave you very happy. I got this as part of a bundle, and it was fine there, but as a stand-alone game, this is very much an indie project which feels sort of like a proof of concept for a future game down the line which will be much cooler.
It is somewhat interesting, but it isn’t really all that great, and it isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Innovative it may be, but it is really the most basic version of the mechanic there is; I hope someone else does something more interesting with the idea somewhere down the line.