Title: SUPERHOT VR
Developer: Blue Brick
Publisher: Superhot Team
Genre: First Person Shooter, FPS, Puzzle, VR
Platform: Oculus Quest
Release Date: 21/05/2019
Price: £18.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
SUPERHOT VR on Quest is the definitive SUPERHOT VR experience. It retains everything great about it from other platforms and it takes advantage of Quest’s tetherless nature to immerse you even more into SUPERHOT’s fabricated, brutal world of concrete and glass.
The enemy strafes to the left, narrowingly avoiding the ash-tray speeding past his head. Unfortunately for him, the cocktail glasses that followed hit their mark and as he falls backwards the gun that he was pointing at me a second before is now sailing through the air toward me. With a single arcing motion my hand meets its handle and once level with the next intruder I turn and empty its contents into him. He crumbles to the ground revealing a third adversary just behind him.
This one is carrying a machine gun and is advancing quickly, but my immediate concern is a fourth enemy entering my peripheral. With no bullets in my gun and no time to think I crouch to the floor and deliver a well-timed uppercut, shattering his attempt. Awash in amber shards and with bullets buzzing past my ears I pivot and launch my empty sidearm at the final approaching enemy in the last-ditch effort to survive. It miraculously connects! I have prevailed. I am hot…Superhot!
While the scene depicted above seems ripped straight from a summer action blockbuster, it was not immediate. More often than not, I found myself frantically reaching for and throwing whatever was in my immediate vicinity while attempting to assess the situation before ultimately being shot in the head and starting over. That’s the nature of the gameplay in Superhot – you’re dropped into various situations of advancing enemies without warning and sans plan, albeit, with a plethora of weapons within reach…usually. It’s trial by firepower.
John Wick, I am not. Sensing this may be true of other players, the developers smartly employed an interesting take on bullet time mechanics, where the action stops completely when you stop moving and resumes when you do. Bullets and other objects will hang in the air and enemies will pause in mid-step, giving you a window to compose yourself. Move your head just a bit to look around or reach for a weapon, even when standing still, will see the action resume, slowly at first but ramping up the more you do so. While certainly not reducing the difficulty of game-play to a cakewalk, it does provide the player with the opportunity and comfort to produce action-star like fight sequences that are both impressive and satisfying. An achievement system further encourages bold and creative play styles.
The narrative in Super Hot is obtuse and almost non-existent. In context to the gameplay, it provides no real agency or understanding. Much like the levels themselves, the plot is vague and only there to support the ‘experience’ of what it feels like to chuck a shuriken at someone’s head while breaking a wine bottle over another’s.
The levels are served as vignettes that string together into a larger whole. Each scene shares a common area, and after completing a handful of them, you move onto the next area/level. Without a warp feature, player movement is constrained to the play area defined by the Guardian system. My play area of 8’x12′ was adequate to enjoy the game, but I felt that just a little more room would have only helped in dodging incoming fire and lengthen reaction times to advancing enemies. Still, the game does a great job of putting you into vulnerable positions and all the space in the world isn’t going to mitigate that.
Audio & Visual
Comprised of low poly textureless models, the environments offer hues of only whites and greys, marking a strong contrast to the amber coloured enemies making their way through it. As simple as the graphics are they still present a believable space were looking over the edge of a high-up platform induces vertigo and leaning against low cover results in one falling on their ass (twice for me.)
Audio in Superhot is even more anaemic than the narrative and is mostly relegated to gunshots, grasping noises, and the occasional smattering of atmospheric ‘wind.’
The first playthrough of Superhot is relatively short, clocking in at about two hours though I think it needs to be reiterated that what’s on offer is an arcade-like experience and not a narrative-driven adventure. Once completed, other modes become available that extends gameplay in various ways, which are represented as floppy disks that you insert into a terminal. Those other game modes are;
- Headshots Only
- Don’t Die
- Speed Run Real Time
- Speed Run Game Time
There may also be other modes that I have yet to unlock. I hear there may be a katana mode where you get to flex your Ninja sword skills, but I haven’t come across it as of yet. I certainly hope so. There are additional floppy disks hidden throughout the levels that can be collected, though I don’t know to what end or how many there may be. They are challenging to find as they’re tucked away into the scenery and require you to stick your head into the various objects in the environment and ‘clip-through’ to see them.
My overall impression of Superhot is that where it falls short on narrative, it more than makes up for in gameplay. Replayability is unhindered in this aspect as the game was designed for multiple play-throughs, culminating in a player well trained in the school of John Woo. The tracking is nearly perfect allowing for dodging enemies and bullets alike, crouching behind cover, and a throwing mechanic that is one of the best I’ve experienced, solidifying the feeling of presence that is so important in a VR game. The graphics are as low-poly and simple as could be but exude a style that is unique and easy to read while still providing a semi-realism that works.