SUPERHOT broke me. It tried to break its way into my mind, but instead, it just broke it. Let me explain.
In case you don’t know, Superhot is a first person shooter. Anyone that knows me will be thinking ‘Noob? Playing a first person shooter? Wut?’. As it turns out, there is a little more to it than that. In this game, time only moves as you move. As a consequence, every move you make has to be deliberate and precise. Stay still and watch bullets moving towards you at a snails pace. Panic though and it’s game over as they speed up and hit you before you can blink. This unique mechanic allows the game to present as a corporeal puzzle game as much as it is as a shooter, which is ironic considering the incorporeal theming involved.
This is a game concept that makes so much sense. Even if you have never thought about it in your life, you hear the explanation of what this game is and think “wow, of course, how come I didn’t think of that?”. And it works! There isn’t another game like it, at least gameplay wise. It is one of those titles that creates something completely new and showcases it to its full potential.
What can be seen as a simple aesthetic actually serves to be a great asset in the gameplay itself. There are three colours. White, red and black. Red = enemies. Black = objects. White = anything else. This completely eliminates any visual clutter aiding even further in the idea that the gameplay IS the game. It is distinctive, it is thematically appropriate and it is everything that it needs to be.
The hitboxes weren’t quite as precise as I would have liked considering this can be a game about millimetres. It could be technical limitations, it could be a choice to be discourage using cover, but bullets being stopped in the air by an invisible corner is frustrating when you feel you have otherwise made a good play.
+ Fast Pace
Levels vary in length but they rarely outstay their welcome. The short bursts that the game gives you allows for going ‘all in’ – getting creative without fear as dying will only set you back a couple of minutes. This can go two ways. On one hand, you can bash your head against the level until you nail it. It isn’t a problem because once you have died you are already back in the game trying again before you even have time to finish any outbursts it may have brought on. As soon as you complete it you forget the struggle, feeling like the baddest ass in all the land. Or alternatively, you nail it first time and truly are the baddest ass in all the land.
– Difficulty Curve
This is where my troubles began. I would say the difficulty throughout the game is sprinkled. Naturally, it starts off simple, but there were some early levels that tripped me up in the same way as some later levels, while there were some later levels I did easily in one try. For some, this will provide an interesting pace. For others, it may be a little more frustrating as it can be difficult to tell if you are improving at the game.
The final level, however, is something else. It is long. Mercifully, it is checkpointed, but that didn’t save me. The previous levels contained more strategically placed enemies, highlighting the puzzle element that I mentioned earlier. This level though is – for lack of a better phrase – on another level. Personally for me, it felt different from all the rest of the game. Yes, it felt climactic, but also it lost a lot of what I enjoyed about the previous sections. I don’t want to say specifically why as that is spoiler territory, but my strategies weren’t working and I couldn’t find a set answer to get through it. This, sadly, marked the end of my Superhot experience. The frustration outweighed the potential pleasure of succeeding and I had my first ever on stream rage quit. As it turns out, I had been probably around 15 seconds from completing the game, but unfortunately I have no desire to return.
I like the story this game is telling and more so the way it tells it. It is brief, it is memorable and it uses the medium well. As you progress an unsettled feeling creeps in and the further you go, the more it grows. It plays with ideas of control and reality, and it was always welcome to check back in at the pc every few levels.
Upon putting it down, I vowed never to go back to this game. As much of a shame that it is that it ended this way, I still had fun in the lead up. The short snappy levels were great fun and when something works out well, it truly feels superhuman. Punching an enemy in the face and catching their gun to then shoot them in the face isn’t something that you get to do very often and while it may be a novelty, it doesn’t lose its appeal for the duration of the game.
SUPERHOT wanted me to complete the game, so in a way, technically, the fact that I quit actually means that means I won. So with that in mind, to conclude.. SUCK IT SUPERHOT. I BEAT YOU.
– Difficulty Curve
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