That’s what I’ve been saying in my head the last couple days in between game time. Super Hot has a tendency to get in your head a bit. It’s a mind blower so to speak. The innovative title came out last year on PC to much acclaim from the community. Now it’s out on the PS4 and I’ve finallly had a chance to see what all the hubbub was about.
While short, Super Hot is a unique experience that will almost rewire your brain in a way. Both in other games and even in real life. I can’t explain why though. I’m not supposed to say too much. I can’t give it away. But you really should play it.
What? Nevermind that. Let’s carry on with the review shall we?
Simple but Effective
The graphics are fairly simple but that is on purpose. The whole aesthetic of the game, including the menus and the “graphics” are based on an old operating system and takes place in a vr world. Super Hot is a game within a game.
There are only a few colors throughout but are purposeful and make each element distinctive. The environment is mostly whites and greys. Enemies are red. And interactive objects, I.e. weapons and other objects, are black.
Keeping with the aesthetic, everything inside the virtual world, has a polygon design. It kind of reminds me of some of the early polygon 3d games. Everything has a lot of corners and angles. It fits with the design of the overall game very well. The environment itself is a little more modern looking but still has a simple pallette.
Sound design is in a similar fashion as the graphics and are very well done. When you hit enemies it sound like glass shattering (which is what they do when you kill them, they shatter like crystals or glass) and guns feel appropriate sounding for an old school vr game. One of my personal favorite sounds is in the menu. You can hear a the whir and clicking of a hard drive in the background and the screen flickers like on old crt monitors.
There isn’t really any music but that’s not a bad thing. The lack of music kind of works as it puts more focus on the gameplay itself. The lack of music, along with the sound and graphics, all wraps the game up in an early, low polygonal virtual world.
Time Moves Only When You Do
Speaking of gameplay, the real hook for Super Hot is the main mechanic of the game. As the game tells you pretty early on, “time only moves when you do”. Meaning that enemies and the environment don’t move until you move using the left stick. So you have plenty of time to figure out where the enemies are and look around your environment.
Truthfully time isn’t completely stopped but moves extremely slow. You have more then enough time to plan and strategize and even dodge bullets. But this whole concept completely changes how you would play a first person shooter which is technically what this game is. The mechanic of time not moving unless you do almost turns the game into an open ended puzzle of sorts. This doesn't mean it's easy though. You'll have to figure out how to get through the level and you'll likely die a few times figuring it out. Especially later in the game. And the game is designed in a way that you know it's your mistake that got you killed.
When you start the level you have plenty of time to take a look around your environment and make a plan. For example you may start off and see two enemies down at the end of the hallway. One has a gun, one does not. You have a choice on how you want to handle the situation. There are usually objects around you can throw at enemies that will make them lose their weapon, which in turn you can catch. You can make your way towards them and just punch them. Or you can use the environment to your advantage and "sneak" up on them.
The point is, you’re given a set of tools and patterns on how to handle each level, but it’s up to you how you do it. It gives you plenty of decisions to choose from, especially later in the game. At times you may feel like Neo in The Matrix. Well, I did anyway. Dodging bullets and punching people to pieces.
One personal example was early in the game. There was an enemy in front of me and a few various objects nearby. I picked up a cup and threw it at the first enemy and then picked up a bottle and threw it at a door that was opening (I knew this enemy was coming from previous attempts). I then turned back and caught the gun that the first enemy dropped as it was flying through the air. At the same time the bottle hit the enemy coming through the door stunning him and causing him to lose his gun as well. I then proceeded to shoot each in turn. All in all I felt pretty awesome.
Keep in mind that time was not moving here unless I took an action such as picking up something or shooting. These were short jumps in time for each action. The whole process was a step by step plan that I worked out myself after a little trial and error. The level is always the same and enemies always spawn in the same place. So if you fail the level you can memorize the patterns and try again.
It’s hard to explain without seeing it in action or playing it yourself. But it’s a unique take on the first person shooter genre. One that will effect how you think about other games. I walked away a couple times still with my mind set in the game. For a second I would think that if I didn’t move then something wouldn’t happen. Of course it didn’t work that way but it’s quite an odd feeling. Oh ya, this isn't Super Hot. Like I said, this game gets in your head sometimes.
The System Will Set Me Free
The story is something I can’t delve into too much. I don’t want to spoil the fun. And I’m not supposed to tell you too much anyway. They’re watching.
The game is short but you might have your mind blown similar to the heads of the enemies when I pulled off a headshot. I can almost hear it shattering now. Most likely you finish the game in one sitting and it’s fairly creative how it all falls together. All I can really say is that it’s worth the time investment and you’ll probably be thinking about it for some time afterward.
There are also many secrets hidden within the game that add more elements to the story. These secrets are a pretty good reason to go back through the game. Plus, as I mentioned, it’s pretty short so it works out. There is also something very satisfying about the gameplay and going back through levels to finish them in a more creative fashion is a lot of fun. Sharing your playthrough is also really easy and can even be done from in the game in a break the foruth wall kind of way.
Super Hot is a first person shooter unlike any other. It’s very narrative driven, mind blowing, fps similar to games such as Portal or The Stanley Parable. It’s quite the mind trip and the time driven game mechanic is actually a lot of fun. Just be prepared to run around saying “Super Hot” in your head for the next few days. It’s short but sweet and well worth the trip into this virtual world.
Oh, and one more thing, it’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years. So you should really should go play it.