As someone who reviews games I’m often hung by my own words. Something that rattled me the wrong way in one game is actually a blessing in another. Recently I took issue with Party Hard’s attempt at bring puzzle/stealth mechanics to a genre that it just didn’t work with, and here we are a couple of weeks later and Super Hot is bringing puzzles to the first person action game, and it’s awesome.
I first heard of Super Hot when a browser version of a couple of levels first appeared online and garnered some love on Twitter. It was an intriguing demo featuring the base mechanics. The player is in a stark white room or other location and red enemies run at you to take you down. I say run, but really they didn’t move, until I did. Super Hot has a number of mechanics going for it but it’s main is that time only moves when you do. If an enemy shoots their gun their bullet barely moves, until you take a step in any direction or perform an action, at which point time moves at normal speed. This does give you time to react to impending doom, but also makes you realise that when staring down a bullet you have nowhere to go but just wait for the impending extra orifice you’re going to receive.
Each level drops you into scene with no context, a car rushing towards you in an alley, a bar full of people don’t like you or an office is about to get messy. Each scenario generally just requires you to finish off all the enemies, nothing more, nothing less. On the face of it killing 10 red goons to finish a level is quite simple, but when they all rush you and everything is in slow motion it’s easy to forget to look behind you for rogue bullets.
Everything about this game oozes style, From the almost Mirror’s Edge levels of white and red, to the combat and even the end of each scene featuring a voice over just repeating “SUPER…HOT….SUPER….HOT….SUPER….HOT” until you move on. As well as the voice over you are also treated to a replay of your run through the level at normal speed, everything about it just screams out that this is a well-choreographed fight scene, when in reality you fluked your way through a subway station with people trying to off you.
Most levels start with you unarmed, you must scrounge a weapon, be it a melee or ranged weapon, or you must brave a charge at an enemy to punch them or steal their gun. This leads to some wonderful sequences of picking up a bottle for example, whipping at an enemy, catching their gun out of the air, shooting another enemy before finishing off the now unarmed first opponent. In real-time it looks beautiful and in slow motion you just feel like the ultimate badass. At any point when a weapon is out of ammo the player automatically lobs it across the room as the screen fills up with the words NO AMMO, a similar thing happens when you’ve completed a scene, each time I couldn’t help but find myself saying out loud “fuck it” as I chuck the piece of metal around like my character is having a tantrum.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the story, and that’s mainly because it’s the most insane element of this already odd game. Without going into too much detail, you’re presented with an old DoS style interface and an option for SuperHot.exe, through an in-game chat messenger you are told by a friend that there is a new game that is being leaked online and from there it goes weird. There’s also an IRC chat where you watch various NPC’s talk about “the game”, girls and ragging on ‘noobs’ in the chat room. This conversation between 15 odd characters goes on for nearly 20 minutes, just white text on a background, but man did it grip me in a twisted voyeuristic way. It seems like the game didn’t need a story but the one it went with really does work well and is full of surprising elements that lack explanation, but don’t necessarily need it for it to be enjoyable.
There’s no doubt that Super Hot ran a real risk of having style over substance with it’s amazing visuals and concept, but thankfully the game is able to back up its pitch with a really satisfying action puzzle game. Working out where to run, what weapon to use and who the priority enemy is gives you a sense of accomplishment that is only rivaled by finally nailing a puzzle in the Portal series. The game is a bit easy at times but always fun, that is until you reach the last 2 scenes where I hit a brick wall in progress, story wise it was great but for gameplay it became an arduous task as it started to feel like there was only one correct solution as opposed to me free-flowing my violence into the game successfully. Going into Super Hot you’re never quite sure what to expect, even after reading something like this piece, it will still surprise. With its action, it’s visuals, it’s crazy story and the cohesion of all of these elements into pure style you can’t help but smile and want to really break bottles over people’s heads really slowly in real life, over and over and over again whilst screaming “SUPER…HOT…SUPER…HOT…SUPER…HOT”.