Bullet time and I have never really gotten along. Somehow you always lose track of something as you clear a room of enemies in slow motion, so you’ll end up crashing headfirst into a filing cabinet at the end of a dive, or you’ll be lying on the ground with an empty pistol in each hand and a set of crosshairs on your head, courtesy of the one bad guy you neglected to shoot. So when I heard about Superhot, a game that revolves around bullet time, I was a little apprehensive, but it manages to pull off slow motion shooting gameplay really well. Superhot is an FPS that got pushed through Steam Greenlight some time ago, with the unique gameplay mechanic where time only moves when you do. It sounds like an interesting idea in theory, but the catch is that time does move a little bit, which can be frustrating at times, but it makes sense why they had to do it. If I can run off to grab a sandwich in the middle of a firefight, the game loses its urgency. Still, it allows for what could almost be considered a turn-based approach to shooting gameplay, given the amount of time you have to contemplate your next move as a bullet crawls towards your head, which was quite enjoyable.
The story was less enjoyable. The premise is that you are a gamer, sitting at your computer, playing a new game you just received. While you can hardly fault the developers for trying to empathize with their target audience, the approach they took comes off as a little forced. Mindgames are utilized to their fullest extent, but somehow, they fail to inspire the fear and tension of other screw-with-the-head games like Portal or Amnesia. In fact, it almost seems like Superhot is trying too hard to emulate Portal, with the mindgames and a focus on the innovative gameplay mechanic. The difference of course is that Portal had several gameplay mechanics for the player to learn as they played which kept the game interesting from start to finish. Superhot has two: bullet time and body switching. The moment that really shows how lackluster the mindgames really are comes when the game claims to be in full control of your mind and forces you to quit playing. Other games like Undertale have pulled this stunt before, but Superhot failed to realize that if you’re going to kick a player out of your game, you have to give them a reason to come back. Undertale made me want to take a weed whacker to that goddamned daisy as soon as humanly possible, while Superhot just made me want to start writing this review early.
So the story isn’t great, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. The two mechanics you get to play with are bullet time and body switching, where you steal an enemy’s body to control, and your old body dies. The game uses the phrase “bodies are disposable” at many points to refer to the switching mechanic, though one could also take it to mean how many of your own bodies will be shot, stabbed, punched, or beaten by enemies. I died a lot in Superhot, mostly due to the fact that you die in one hit from anything, and it’s hard to look around. Turning counts as moving, so if you’re going to look behind you to see if there’s a bullet back there, keep in mind that it and all other bullets will be travelling towards you at full speed. Body switching helps, since if you just switch out of your own doomed carcass whenever you think you might be screwed, you generally live a lot longer, I just wish you got to use it more. As far as the main story in concerned, you only pick up body switching in the last couple of missions, and while fun, it almost feels like an afterthought. Very rarely did I direly need to switch bodies to survive. However, there is nothing like it for looking like an unstoppable badass. I throw my gun across the room, switch out of my body before a shotgun blast blows it to kingdom come, then once in my new body, grab my previously thrown gun in midair and shoot the guy with the shotgun before he can even react. Then watch the whole replay, sped up to look like real-time, and immediately forget about the 20 failed attempts leading up to it.
Overall, Superhot is a fun and innovative shooter, hampered slightly by the uninteresting story and small gameplay frustrations. Those are mostly just nitpicks however, it is a solid title that I would definitely recommend playing. Though I would get it on sale if you can because barring the challenge modes, the campaign only lasts about 4 hours, which is a little malnourished for a $30 game.