Poetry In Motion – Super Hot Review (PC)
The first person shooter has long been a staple of video games. It’s a simple joy, with the core mechanics very rarely changing. Big budget triple A titles would have you believe you’re playing the latest action film, complete with slow mo and scene chewing. This is where Super Hot walks in, the black sheep in a genre regarded as predicable and uncreative.
Super Hot is almost the anti-mainstream first person shooter. There’s not many guns to fire, or much ammo to use. You won’t be fending off waves and waves of enemies in the name for a greater good, it’s nothing like that at all. Super Hot strips everything away, leaving one core concept that governs the entire gameplay experience, and it works perfectly.
Player movement in first person shooters has the creation of fast paced twitch titles all the way to tactical shooters. Super Hot adds a new dynamic, controlling time itself. Player movement dictates time, with each action bring the game from a snails pace to the speed you’d expect. Suddenly the ability to dodge projects and shoot bullets out of the air becomes a viable tactic.
This concept of movement carrying time is used in such a manner that it never feels gimmicky. The core campaign only weighs in at around 2 and half hours, exposing all the uses of the time-movement mechanic nicely. With a lack of guns, and the inability to take more than one hit, Super Hot quickly evolves into something closer to strategy game than a typical first person shooter.
Each scenario sees the player attacked by numerous ‘Red Dudes’, most of which are armed. Bullets are fired and fists are thrown, it’s the player’s goal to take them all out without suffering any damage. One wrong movement can result in death, giving each and every step a sense of importance. The average encounter consists of disarming the enemy, catching their weaponry in mid air and finishing them off. That’s Super Hot at its most basic, it’s still brilliant.
The true magic of Super Hot is injecting creativity into each stage. There’s nothing stopping you from re-enacting those slick over the top action scenes found in the likes of The Raid or any given John Woo film. Dancing in between bullets, causing enemies to commit friendly fire, catching weapons in mid air while setting up the next kill, it’s sheer joy.
Outcomes of each completed stage produce normal speed replays, showing just how slick the player’s movements where. Super Hot makes you feel like a God amongst men, but it can also reduce you to your knees. The one-hit deaths are the perfect partner to the slow-motion, allowing the player to feel powerful but not invincible.
Super Hot’s level design is perfect for showing off its mechanics. They’re too large or too small, nor do they ever repeat. Each stage presents their own challenges and possibilities. While they are wonderfully crafted, the small amount of them is a quietly underwhelming. Given how creative players can be with the mechanics, the lack of levels feels a bit odd. It’s hard not to wonder how some off the wall level design could provided in term experimentation.
Replay value is offered in various challenge modes and mini-games found within the DOS box-like menu. Endless mode is exactly how it sounds, fight waves of Red Dudes. Speed Runs will no doubt appeal, feeling almost tailor made for streamers and communities to jump upon. Out of all the modes, Katana mode feels the most rewarding. Tasking players with completing the campaign armed with only a blade provides plenty of thrills. Not having access to any other weapons produces a true task, as well as some amazing moments of slicing bullets in mid air.
There’s an elephant in the room, or at least there is depending on how you measure value. Super Hot is fantastic, it’s brilliant, but it’s also short…kind of. Super Hot’s campaign is short and sweet, which will no doubt scare people away given its £17.99 asking price. Depending how highly you value fresh ideas and top quality gameplay, Super Hot may feel like it’s too much for too little.
It may only be early 2016, but Super Hot has already stood out from the crowd. To see such a clever idea implemented so well is impressive. Even with it’s price tag, muttered ‘must play’ still feels easy. Radiant in nature, satisfying in play, Super Hot is poetry in motion, albeit a short poem.