The best way to describe SUPERHOT is as a collection of John Woo fight scenes. Each level is a self contained scenario in a location, for example an elevator or a parking lot, where the aim is to shatter the red guys coming at you with guns, weapons and their bare fists. And like John Woo, you have slow motion on your side; if you stay still, everything around you almost grinds to a halt, enemies moving only at a fraction of their normal speed and only speeding back up again once you start moving or looking around.
It’s a simple concept which SUPERHOT manages to get decent mileage out of, making the game feel a lot more tactical, giving you time to plan your order of attack and when would be the best time grab a weapon. Guns only allow you three shots with no reloading, so you’ll need to move on to the next weapon as soon as you can, either from the environment or from forcing the red guys to drop theirs. While guns are fun, melee weapons and even your own fists make for serviceable alternatives. The fact that time moves even when you look around means you have to be very aware of the map and where everyone is, making the game feel more like a combination of a puzzle game and Hotline Miami than any FPS.
It’s a shame then that thanks to the graphical style, everything feels so sterile. It does feel like it’s kind of the point, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more colour over the hospital white and shattering red. Also, the game’s story mode goes by very quickly (I was done within 90 minutes) and it didn’t grab me in the way that stories of a similar type have. Perhaps it’s just because it’s becoming a more common trope but I felt like I’d seen most of its ideas before.
Also while the central idea is very strong, there isn’t a lot of variety outside of what you do in the story mode. You unlock a couple of extra modes on completion, and while it’s nice to have a bit more to play with, there are drawbacks to each. Endless mode pretty much does what it says on the tin, but there are only a limited number of levels available, the majority of which you’ve already played through. Challenge mode has a similar problem in that it’s basically just playing the story again but with new rules – the Katana-only challenge is easily the best of these but there are some interesting rulesets too. It would be nice to see a new maps or an editor added to the game in the future just to spice things up a little as unfortunately the great idea that is presented does wear out surprisingly quickly.
While the central conceit of shooting a bunch of bad guys feels so familiar, SUPERHOT manages to find a unique way of going about it – it’s just a shame there’s not more in the overall package