Superhot is easily one of the most immersive VR games I have played, this should be a staple for anyone with a capable system. Originally developed in under a week in 2013 as a regular FPS for a competition, the game was redeveloped and fleshed out for a full release in 2016, with the VR version released the following year. If you haven’t played the main release yet, do yourself a favour, go play it and come back, but if you ‘just can’t’ right now, I will briefly cover it below. Seriously, the original 2013 release is available on the developers website as an in-browser game, there are no excuses.
Main Game: Keeping to its roots, the game is very minimalist, with the only enemies being red humanoids in a plain black and white world, which really helps the player focus, but the real USP for this title is the main gameplay mechanic: Time only moves when you do. In the original console version this was a great feature, as it redefined what you could do with a FPS, letting you actually move out of the way of bullets, and even block them with weapons, rather than pressing a button and the game doing it for you. Using the control of time, the game deftly blends RTS style strategy and fast paced FPS action as you freeze, plan your next move, and then execute at your own pace.
As fun as the gameplay is, the story (for the console version) is wonderfully meta, with twists and turns that make you question if you’re playing the game, or if the game is playing you. It’s a short enough campaign you can play through it in 1 sitting, and I would absolutely recommend you do so, solely to increase the dissociation from reality the game so expertly creates.
VR: Moving on to the main focus of this review. Long story short, it’s spectacular. Although this was one of the first VR games I played, it has remained a steadfast favourite. The stop/start gameplay is incredible in VR, allowing you to physically perform superhuman feats like Matrix style bullet dodging, all while maintaining complete control over the environment. Although not requiring a lot of skill to do in this game, nothing quite compares to channelling your inner Jedi and deflecting a hail of bullets using your katana, before throwing it expertly to spear your now defeated opponent.
The game continues through 20 levels, each requiring different strategies and techniques to master, and once you’re done with the main levels, you have endless mode. Set across 5 arenas, as you can imagine this mode simply continues until you die. There are target scores for each level, which are challenging but doable, but I’d really be interested to see more statistics (avg life, favourite weapons etc).
The real game changer is when you’ve been playing long enough, and you’re maybe starting to get a bit bored, you realise you can play fast as well. Oh yes, this game has a speed run mode. Although you still control time, the object of this is to simply play through as fast as possible. This sadly leads to a lot of hand waving, as this is the fastest way to get time to progress in the game, and despite its fun, an option to turn off time control would make this mode fantastic.
That said, it is nonetheless a lot of fun, and it really forces you to work out. When you start off, the target times seem outlandish, but I assure you they are doable with enough practice. They will also be one of the most intense 20 second bursts of exercise you will ever do in your life. I wore a Fitbit while playing, and after half an hour it told me I had burned over 350 calories, which is about the same as going for a run! Obviously one of the downsides to this is it does limit your playtime to that of a workout, but at the same time, who needs the gym anyway, right?
I am loathe to use the term ‘criticism’, purely because the game itself is so pure and simple, but in terms of ‘improvement’… The campaign on the VR is far less immersive than the campaign on the original game; this feels a bit like a DLC add on for the main game, despite it being a standalone product. Obviously you don’t need to have played the standard version to enjoy this, but I think the experience was improved by having previously played it.
Although there is enough replay value with the different modes to keep you entertained for hours, additional levels or modes would not have hurt. The Challenge mode was fantastic on the original game, but it is sorely missed in the VR version (although Hardcore and Headshot Only mode remain). The gameplay is wonderfully simple, and though I think this is what makes the game so enjoyable, it would benefit immensely from a sandbox mode, or something similar, as the entire game has only 2 enemies (unarmed and armed), 3 guns, and a handful of melee weapons/objects.
All that being said, this is an absolute masterpiece of a game. The original redefined what could be done with the FPS genre; in a world of Battle Royales and COD clones, it was a refreshing breath of fresh air. The VR aspect only serves to enhance this, giving you as near as dammit real life Jedi powers, and it is an absolute must for any self respecting VR owner. It’s the most innovative shooter in years.
- Utterly addicting & insanely fun
- Intuitive controls
- Easily switch between play styles
- Menu takes some getting used to
- Could use additional items
- Makes other VR games seem less fun