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Superhot Review

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  • Superhot Review

    Action Game: The Movie: The Game
    Here’s a quick question for everyone: Have you ever watched the “Bad Motherfucker” music video? If not, you should probably take a moment to check that out.

    Done? Great! Now, have you seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, Hardcore Henry?

    Awesome. Now you have a bit of an idea of just what to expect with Superhot. Of course, Superhot’s visuals aren’t exactly the same as those two videos. We are instead treated to a simple color pallet that focuses on the colors of white and red. Plus, the stories in both of those above videos have next to nothing to do with Superhot. Instead, we are given a story that seems to take a “less is more” approach. To be perfectly honest, I did not like how the story was presented to me at first. As I made my way through the game, I started to change my tune. Superhot Team actually did a really good job on the story and I came away from it thinking that the presentation and delivery were almost on par with Portal. I’m not saying the stories are the same, because they are not. However, both stories brilliantly blend dark themes with a presentation that occasionally breaks the fourth wall.

    Make no mistake about it; the story in Superhot is better experienced than merely explained to you through this or any other review. You may not like it at first, but I could not see any other method of story presentation working all that well for a game like this. With that said, I do wish that some elements of the presentation were altered ever so slightly. Parts of the story are presented through fake instant message style conversations through an equally fake old CRT screen. Your character’s replies are pre-determined by the game’s script but you still need to do this pretend typing on your actual keyboard in order to get that message displayed on screen. An identical mechanic was done recently in Pony Island and I didn’t much care for it there either. Simply automating the “typing” process would immediately rectify this issue. It’s a minor gripe but a gripe none the less in the otherwise enjoyable execution of the unquestionably twisted storyline.

    At first glance, the game may appear sparse and incomplete, resembling what most traditional maps look like prior to texture passes. However, this white and red color scheme is intentional. The stark contrast in visuals allow for the player to easily assess the situation before their eyes. Faceless enemies and bullet trails are red in color, allowing you to see all threats with just a quick glance. Objects that you can interact with are set off from the matte white environment by appearing darker than anything else around you. It’s incredibly simple but it gives the game a style that is unrivaled to anything else out there. This simple visual design continues through to the game’s audio. Narration is largely limited to the oft repeated “SUPER” and “HOT” while the rest of the story is carried out through flashes of on screen text or the aforementioned instant message style chats. Sound effects are key in Superhot as a good audio set up will allow you to pick up on cues to know when and where new enemies spawn into the level. This can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

    Even with all of these simplistic elements in place, the gameplay in Superhot is surprisingly deep. The game plays out like a complex dance of strategy and FPS genres. The hook with Superhot is that time only moves when you move. Take a step and time advances in real time until you stop. Pick up a weapon and the same thing happens. This naturally allows you to dodge bullets and carry out some incredibly elaborate actions without breaking a sweat. The strategy part comes in knowing when to attack, when to grab a fresh weapon (as ammo is very limited), when to toss your weapon to stagger an enemy, when to grab a crowbar to smash into someone’s face, and when to simply move to a flanking position. There is one more ability I haven’t yet touched upon here and that is something you get later on in the game. This is a bit of a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know about a cool, late game ability then just skip to the next paragraph. Superhot eventually allows you to “jump” from character to character effectively eliminating them as a threat and giving you a new lease on “life.” This opens up a wonderful world of gameplay possibilities. If you are about to be shot by someone and there is no way to move out of the way, just leap to the person that shot at you and watch as your former shell meets their fate. This also allows you to pull off some elaborate sequences such as throwing a sword at one enemy, teleporting to the guy standing next to him, picking up your sword that is still flying through the first guy, and turning to slice additional nearby foes.

    Once you start to pull off these elaborate moves you just feel like such an incredible bad ass. The difficulty slowly ramps up as you progress through the roughly 30 levels of the storyline. The increase in difficulty is offset by learning new techniques and simply becoming more accustomed to the gameplay nuances so it never becomes a frustrating experience. If you did not get your fill of Superhot after completing the story, you are in luck. Completion of the story mode unlocks an unlimited mode, which is as you may expect, a never ending wave-based scenario that only ends when you die. You can also partake in a variety of challenges such as playing through the levels with only a katana, playing through the levels where time doesn’t slow as much as usual, and many more. If you want to challenge yourself to beat the game without dying, you can. It’s an option that is available to you. These all add in a series of optional, fun experiences that the more hardcore out there will happily enjoy. To be honest, the endless mode is probably my favorite of the post-story content, but there is literally something for everyone to try at least once.

    As if that wasn’t enough, each level completion rewards the player with a replay of their success. This replay is presented without the pauses in time that you experience during gameplay. This means that those moves you thought looked cool in slow motion look even cooler when played back in real time. If you think you have the most amazing and unique replay in the world you can edit it and upload it to Superhot’s special “Killstagram” social media page. Editing and uploading is built into the game and works quite well in this pre-release period. The coolest part is that Killstagram is an actual website you can visit outside of the game where you can see everyone’s hottest replays. Those who wish to create the most over the top and elaborate replays will find near endless enjoyment here.

    Bottom Line
    The main story will run most players just a couple of hours on their first go around. However, once you factor in the secrets you can find, the post-story challenges, and the fact that some modes offer near infinite replayability, the value proposition for Superhot is tremendous. I have even heard that the team is planning to release some additional content after release, though I do not know the full extent of what that might include.

    There were a few instances where hit detection was a little questionable but I never felt as though it was enough to hinder my overall enjoyment. I also did not much care for the instant message story presentation for parts of the main campaign, but this is more of a personal issue than a technical issue encountered. When it comes right down to it, I have very few negative things to say about Superhot.

    If you want to feel like you’re one of the most amazing action stars of this or any generation, Superhot will deliver and then ask if you want seconds. I highly recommend this game to fans of first-person shooters, fans of games that make you think, fans of smart and twisted storylines, and for fans of fun.

    + A hybrid FPS and strategy game that offers incredible gameplay depth.
    + The game offers tons of replayability with roughly 30 story missions and more game modes that unlock after completion, including an Endless mode and a number of Challenge modes.
    + You will feel like an action movie star when you complete a level and watch your replay. You will often sit back and go “whoa, that looked amazing!” as you see what your actions look like in real time.
    + A built-in replay editor allows you to edit and upload your best level completions to a dedicated website for the whole world to see.
    + The game just bleeds style at every opportunity.
    - There were only a couple of times where I questioned the game’s hit detection, but this did not necessarily take away from my overall enjoyment.
    - I was personally not a fan of being forced to “fake type” during some of the game’s story segments.
    - The graphical options are limited and I seem to have been stuck at a refresh rate of 60.
    Related Information
    Title: Superhot
    Platforms: Windows, Linux, OS X, Xbox One (Reviewed on Windows)
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen
    Superhot was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.