Superhot Review

[As Read on GIO.]

First of all, long time no see. I apologize profusely for my egregious inactivity online in terms of writing, blogging, reviewing, and pretty much any and everything else. I’ve been quite busy these past few months and although I really have no excuse for not blogging or writing anything here for almost a year or more actively, I have been lurking in the shadows and watching some of the goings on I swear. No, not in that weird of a way. So this isn’t my “I’m back” kind of thing either, but it’s a welcome start right? I’ve missed the opportunity to review a plethora of games that I’d like to but for now I’m going to aim small in case I miss small. So I’ll start with this particular game and see where it goes from there, eh? Without further ado, let’s skip the pleasantries and get to the meat of why we’re here today: the review itself.

Superhot is at its core a shooter in its entirety. But it is also something altogether different than titles we would generally associate with the term “shooter” in today’s game industry. This particular title is also a puzzle game in many ways and a strategic shooter in many others. Some would even say it’s more of a strategy game than anything else and I guess they would also be correct. The game is all of these elements and maybe a little bit more than that at times. It is certainly an interesting approach to the question often asked by shooters today: “how can we continue to make things new and exciting for players?” Superhot has found its answer to that particular question, but I don’t think it’ll be exactly what everyone was expecting.

Speed is the answer of course. No, not the drug and no not the use of incredibly speedy moments or incredibly lackadaisical ones. Superhot takes slow motion along for a ride- throughout the entirety of its gameplay, not just select scenes or moments as has become quite the common practice in fighting and shooting games lately. This is no Max Payne bullet-time, this is no slow motion quick time event in Call of Duty of some other shooter. This is still frame after still frame of strategically enacted shooting battles that would make some great generals proud, if they played or enjoyed games. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and for every action there is also an equal and opposite consequence it seems. And Superhot capitalizes on this, making every moment of every battle matter. There’s definitely a strategy to overcome each encounter, but just because things have been slowed down doesn’t mean they are any easier to overcome.

Think of the game as one slightly less brutal runthrough of a game such as the newest iteration of Devil May Cry or Batman Arkham. I make this comparison for the sole reason that both games have specific modes that task you with defeating your foes without taking a single hit, for fear of the Iron Man-like repercussions resulting in your death from said hit. Superhot is best compared to those respective modes because you are constantly tasked with defeating enemies without taking a single hit. It only takes one hit to destroy them and consequently you die upon being hit as well. Call yourself a one hit wonder if you will, both for dealing them and being punished by one. That’s not to say bullets are entirely your only concern however, simply one of the more deadly things to be aware of in this world. You’ll also encounter melee enemies and even folks with no weapon besides their fists, yet each and every one of these enemies is deadly for one reason or another so every situation should be approached cautiously.

It’s not so much that the game is played in slow motion or that time has stopped moving along altogether, but rather when there is an absence of movement there is an absence of time moving. If you’re able to grasp that concept then you’ll be able to grasp most of what the game throws at you as well. Whether you are moving forward, dodging an attack or perhaps a bullet or ten, or attacking in your own stead, each action and reaction takes a “turn” so to speak and you must remain constantly vigilant of your surroundings so as to make sure you’re constantly dancing between attacking, dodging, and moving forward without being hit. Strategy comes in many different forms and it also moves beyond merely calculating when to move and when not to move. You’ll find yourself lining up trajectories and predicting paths enemies are most likely to follow if you want to master this game in a short time and best the challenges that come your way.

It may take a little bit of time to get used to some of the mechanics behind all of this slow motion skulduggery but it is more than worth some of the initial trial and error and hassles you may face. As you progress through the somewhat short “campaign” the challenges are amped up again and again, so by the end you’ve undoubtedly become much more experienced and able in terms of continuing the fight. Otherwise you’ll find yourself facing death over and over again. What might help even more is the addition of instant replays upon completion of an objective, which show your course and the methods through which each enemy was dispatched- significantly sped up for pleasure of course. While the gameplay can become frustrating only in longer situations, seeing as save points are virtually nonexistent and you’re expected to complete most levels in one sitting, I never found Superhot to be terribly unrealistic or unfair in terms of difficulty. Often it was more the fact I had overlooked something than the fact that I was just unlucky.

Whereas many strategy or puzzle games last much longer than they should or wrap up much sooner than anticipated, I think Superhot nails just about the right amount of time to place an emphasis on standard gameplay. Before things can get too overused or stale the main content is over and it’s onto the seemingly neverending variations of levels available to test yourself with. To add to replay value there are also differing “modes” that prevent the use of certain items or make the main objective be that you complete the level in a specific fashion, furthering adding elements of strategy and puzzle to the gameplay. Simple in concept and only relatively more complicated in execution, Superhot is super and it is hot.

Concept: Take the core of gameplay from any shooter and that gameplay will revolve around shooting, plain and simple. It’s in the title just like it’s in gaming DNA. Now add a twist where the entire thing moves in slow motion and you’re prone to insta-kill enemies just as they can do so to you. Messes with your mind a little bit at first doesn’t it?

Graphics: I personally loved the art style that permeates this world. Your enemies are brightly colored but not so detailed as to be fleshed out beyond mere polygonal shapes. The same can be said for the surrounding world, which lacks color but remains sharp and clear in its definite shapes and settings.

Sound: The sound work is nothing special or remotely spectacular but what it does is excellent pace the game along so that you never feel like you’re chugging along slowly, rather playing through in a blur of speed alongside the constantly crescendoing and galloping soundtrack.

Playability: There should be no confusion here once the controls have been established, as your one and only goal is to move forward at all costs, eliminating those who dare to stand in your way and doing your best to survive their counterattacks.

Entertainment: For a title that revolves around slowing combat down, I never once felt bored or tired of the matters at hand and instead felt that much more tense and anxious as I made my way slowly but surely through the levels and the world.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 8.0

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