Developer: SUPERHOT Team
Publisher: SUPERHOT Team
Review Platform: PC
Release Date: February 25, 2016
There’s a fine line between innovation and novelty. Innovation can be repeated without necessarily being a copycat. A great innovation is the way in which story is told in Half-Life or the way in which Orson Welles maneuvers the camera in Citizen Kane. Novelty, on the other hand, is a new idea which cannot be repeated without claims of mimicry. The main mechanic of SUPERHOT is a novel one. Time moves only when you move (more or less), and the fact that if repeated in any other game it’ll instantly be called a copycat makes SUPERHOT a one of a kind experience.
SUPERHOT places you in the shoes of… well, “you” who has recently acquired an illegally obtained crack of an upcoming game only known as SUPERHOT.exe. The game in question is fragmented, featuring segments that could be most easily compared to the level like structure of Portal. SUPERHOT is, in many ways, best described as an action-puzzle game. Since motion only occurs when you move, it gives you ample opportunity to consider your movements. Does it make more sense to grab a coffee mug to throw at a guy with a gun or punch the other guy with the sword so you can throw the sword at the guy with the gun? These types of this-or-that moments are highlighted by the fact that restarting the section is as simple as pressing the R key. If you die, it’s not a major deal, because you’re quickly teleported to the beginning and can try everything again.
Many puzzles have a single, defined set of actions you must take, while others offer a bit more freedom. The seeming randomness makes each level feel fresh, even if nearly no new elements are introduced throughout. SUPERHOT‘s reliance upon these key ideas to complete puzzles keeps the game from becoming too frustrating (you’re not spending time learning new mechanics), but the puzzles are difficult enough that it requires more brainpower than your average shooter. This balance in pacing is easily SUPERHOT‘s greatest asset.
It’s most surprising asset is it’s brilliantly told and intriguing narrative. Without revealing too much, SUPERHOT.exe quickly reveals itself to be more than just a game and you are a pawn in some sort of dangerous game. It does things that can only be done in gameplay form. It relies upon you and the character to become one as the conspiracy unravels. It reminds me a lot of what Her Story or Emily is Away did last year. You sitting at a computer is a crucial piece of the puzzle, which ultimately makes the console release confusing.
Unfortunately the main experience is a short one. The story mode lasts, at most, 2 hours. Luckily the value of the game is prolonged thanks to an “Endless” mode and some challenges, but despite a fascinating story with a satisfying conclusion, I would have loved to have seen the entire experience drug out even an hour longer.
Luckily, SUPERHOT makes the best of it’s short run time, and while I tend to fall on the side of quality over quantity, I can’t help but feel that SUPERHOT is far too skimpy on content.