For most shooters, being the fastest gun in town is a great thing. The person with the best reflexes, aim and quickest trigger finger typically wins. It’s not so much the case when it comes to Superhot VR –, other than the part about having a good aim of course. Superhot VR is a game that was developed and published by the SUPERHOT Team. A team that developed a shooting game where the enemies move when you move and in time with your movements. Which means every action counts in more ways than one. So let’s hope you aren’t the twitchy type.
Disclosure: This review was written using a press copy of the game.
In essence, the game is about the efficiency of movement, time manipulation and awareness of your surroundings. The better you can keep a map of the terrain in your mind and calculate your moves, the better off you are. After all, unlike most other shooters, you aren’t able to constantly spin around to gauge your environment. You can turn your head without causing your opponents to gain movement, but you’re limited by what you can see with just that and your peripheral vision.
The moment you lean forward to look around a corner or move up a bit so you can peer over cover, you’ve given them a moment of movement. Ducking back into that very same cover will give them yet another inch. And trust me, the enemy always knows where you are. It’s as if you’re excreting some pheromone that lights you up like a beacon for them to find you. There is nowhere to hide, and there would be no point in it since your opponents would be frozen in time while you cower in a closet. That’s right, there’s no Deus Ex’ing any given scenarios by hiding in a duct somewhere while the bad guys go about their daily lives until you can get the perfect moment to jump them.
This necessity to be conservative of your movements not only had me as tightly wound as a cat waiting to pounce, and reminded me all the more reason why I wish we’d rigged the wire for our VR headset from the ceiling or find a means to wirelessly connect it. Nothing was more frustrating than being mid-gunfight then accidentally stepping on your headset chord and having to sacrifice precious seconds of movement as you correct your positioning.
The first scenes they have you cycle through as a tutorial were interesting, though there was a constant repetition of the game’s name at certain points which I found grating. I was quite glad when I got past them and moved on to other scenes. Though my irritability could have partially been due to the fact I was playing the tutorials during a heat wave. Fortunately, I smartened up and waited for cooler weather before trying again.
It’s quite fascinating to both see and hear your opponents shatter when you defeat them, even if it was with something as basic as a coffee mug. Being able to throw objects at your enemies to disarm or defeat them felt rewarding, if at times a bit unrealistic at times. I also had a few issues here and there when it came to the game tracking my hand movement as well as with the controls when I was attempting to throw an object, though that could have been due to my own lack of coordination.
I found the bullet catching mechanic – which you can do once with each hand per level- to be pretty cool, although fatal if you’ve lost track of how many times you’ve done it. I also appreciated the array of weapons that you have at your disposal, from simple pistols, shotguns, and knives to throwing stars and swords. Oh, and let’s not forget the various houseware. The guns had realistically limited ammo, but they themselves could be thrown at an enemy in hopes to kill them, which was a bit shocking the first time I did it and had me realize that we were all taking the term “Glass Cannons” a bit too literally. To further the analogy, it isn’t just your enemies that are made of glass, but you are too. That’s right, you don’t get that nice safety blanket of a health bar to cushion the shots and blows that come your way. One hit and that’s it.
The further you get into the game, the more the challenges are amped up, as with any game really. Once you’ve completed it, you can choose to replay any specific level you wish, which can make things fun if you’re playing Superhot VR with friends, each taking turns to see how far the other can get and who is best at conquering which type of scenario.
The time mechanics themselves were pretty amazing. It forced me to pay far more attention to my movements than I typically would in any game and stop my usual habit of moving about willy-nilly. I also had to make decisions between whether it would be more efficient to dodge a weapon with my entire body or to use whatever I had in my hand to block it. Whichever action took less movement was typically the better choice depending on how many opponents were still left in the room.
As annoyed as I get with myself whenever I fail at something, Superhot VR made it so that failure wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, with each failure, you had the chance to learn something more about the room: where each bad guy would start out, the path they’d likely take, which weapon they’d be carrying, and what items were in your environment. These failures give you the unique opportunity to plan out your next attempt to be all that more efficient and deadly.
My personal thoughts on it? Well, this isn’t exactly the type of game for me, not as a game for me to play on my own anyway. It was interesting to be a player within another game world, but I am more of an RPG gal than a pure shooter, and when it comes to a game where I get to use guns, I prefer sniper rifles and taking my enemy out before they even know I exist or having a bit more storyline between massacres. Here, it was primarily a constant rush of enemies heading straight at me as if I was shouting “Come get me!” or wearing some strange pheromone that turned everyone around me into a homicidal maniac.
The game is very entertaining in its own right and great for those that want to feel like they’re practicing for some 007 style scenarios with Neo’s abilities within the Matrix. It’s also a pretty fun game to play with friends, where you can compete, laugh at each other’s failures or be in awe of each other’s smooth moves.
Graphics wise, Superhot VR uses a unique minimalistic graphic style. You spend most of your time in white-walled simulation environments, grabbing black objects, and killing men made of tinted orangish red glass.
What I did love was the rush, the feel of being a bad-ass catching guns mid-air that I’d disarmed from enemies by merely throwing a coffee cup at them, then using their gun to shoot their allies. It did succeed in making me feel pretty epic while playing, even if my thighs were crying at me the next day at work. (Hey, I work a desk job. I don’t typically spend my nights crouched in odd positions for extended periods of time.)
For those interested in buying it, it is available on Linux, Mac OSX, PS4, Windows, Xbox One. Is it worth the price tag of 27.99$ CAD? Well, that depends on you. If you want to feel like you’re Neo and you love shooters, conquering various game modes (Campaign, Endless and Challenger), as well as defeating enemy after enemy without a major story arc, have at it, it’ll be an amazing experience for you and keep you entertained for a long time. If you’re someone like me that needs a bit more story and would just be getting this for entertainment with friends, I’d suggest waiting until it goes on sale.