“Superhot” brings a unique and polished take on the first-person shooter genre, despite being seemingly simple on the surface.
Developed and published by Superhot Team in 2016, “Superhot” takes all the common mechanics and gameplay of a first-person shooter and stops it in its tracks. Literally. What sets “Superhot” apart from other indie games in the first-person shooter genre is its unique time mechanic where time does not progress unless the player moves. The gameplay makes you feel like you’re John Wick, but in “The Matrix.” Since you basically have all the time in the world, you can plan out split-second decisions in a game where everything is a one-hit kill. The game does a great job of making you feel like a badass. If a bullet is flying at you, you can see it stop right in front of you when you stop moving, allowing you to side-step it or toss an object at it to destroy it mid-flight. You can throw a bottle at an enemy, stunning him, and then catch his gun mid-air and shoot him with it. You can even chop guys in half with a katana.
The time mechanic allows “Superhot” to be a first-person shooter at first glance, but really a lot more strategy is involved in later levels as things get a bit harder. Aside from this, there is a later ability called a “hot switch” that allows the player to teleport into the body of an enemy, a useful tactic for quickly getting out of harm’s way. Once you complete a level by killing all the enemies, the game replays what you did in real time, making it a super satisfying experience to rewatch what you did.
“Superhot” also has a very minimalist visual design that, surprisingly, works out well and synergizes with the gameplay. Everything looks very sharp in design; all the backgrounds and levels are colored white, while enemies are colored red and any interactive objects are colored black. This simple color coding system actually works out well for a game that’s so heavily focused on its gameplay. Since the enemies are red, they drastically stand out from their white surroundings and since a glass bottle is colored black, players will know that they can throw it at enemies to stun them for a couple seconds.
The one area where “Superhot” falls short is its story. It’s somewhat fourth-wall breaking, as it takes place with you, the main character, being told by one of your friends about an exciting new game called “Superhot.” The main character’s friend sends over the files and you begin to play it. The more you play it, the more things become a bit unsettling and mysterious as the game starts to talk back to the main character. It juggles around themes of freedom and control, specifically with artificial intelligence. However, I finished the main story levels — 34 in total — within 40 minutes. Just as the story begins to get good, it ends.
Though the main story can be awfully short, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in the endless mode and other challenge missions that you unlock after completing the main story. There are several endless stages you can unlock through playing and subsequent challenges that might amp up the difficulty on a stage.
Although it suffers from an awfully short story, “Superhot” is a marriage of innovative and stylish gameplay with clever visual design that can keep players entertained for hours, especially with its extra game modes. It’s $25 on Steam but should you ever find it on sale, do consider checking it out.