Before SUPERHOT, there was the SUPERHOT demo, created at a gamejam in 2013. I never played the prototype, but I read a lot about it. It was a first person shooter game where you did more than shoot. The end goal might be the same, but the way that you get there was something different. It wasn’t a game about mowing down your enemies, but a game about patience. Instead of running through levels, you had to stop to slow down time so you could make decisions and dodge bullets.
Between the media buzz and the prototype, SUPERHOT garnered enough attention to successfully complete a kickstarter and turn the demo into a full game. Fast forward a couple years, and SUPERHOT is finally finished and available on Steam for purchase. While I might not have played the original demo, the concept surrounding the game piqued my interest, and I wanted to give it a try to see whether or not the game was as enjoyable as people had led me to believe.
The short answer is yes, the game is fantastic, but there are a few problems outside of the gameplay. Before I get to that, however, I need to talk about the game itself. As I’ve already mentioned, the game is a first person shooter that takes thought. You’re not wandering corridors looking for enemies to shoot down, but instead searching the level for a way to complete your objective. Throughout SUPERHOT, there are several situations the game puts you in which require problem solving to proceed. These puzzles are what make the game interesting, but they’re also what makes the game frustrating at times.
For example, every level starts you somewhere. Sometimes, that’s away from enemies. Other times, it’s not. There are a few levels where you’re spawned directly next to enemies with weapons and expected to figure it all out. As you might expect, you’ll probably be dying a lot trying to figure out what it is that you’re supposed to do. The game does give you the option to restart the level immediately after you die, but that means there’s a learning curve along the way. Each level will require you to memorize enemy positions and keep in mind where they’re coming from.
Unlike most games, though, that knowledge shouldn’t take too long to acquire because the levels are often fairly short. You might have to repeat segments of the level over and over and return to the beginning every time which is where the frustration comes in, but I found it to be manageable. Games that require you to have a breadth of knowledge can sometimes take ages to learn, but that isn’t the case here.
As you work your way through the levels, you’ll also be working through the story. The gameplay is fun and innovative, and so too is the story. Unfortunately, despite some of the unique design decisions, the story itself is quite short. The story has great presentation that even ties into the marketing of the game by ultimately offering a discount coupon to sell the game to your friends, but the length is what significantly devalued the experience for me.
For me, the enjoyable length of a video game is directly tied to the price. If I get a sufficient amount of time comparable to the money I spent on it, then it’s a good buy. If I get less, but I still enjoy it, I don’t mind as much, but it’s not optimal. That seems to be the case with SUPERHOT. While I loved the game and had a great time making my way through the story, I found the length to be somewhat off-putting. The game retails for $24.99 on Steam, but you can blow through the story or an hour or two. That’s not exactly a good deal in my book.
But, there’s more to SUPERHOT than the basic story. Once you complete the story, the rest of the game opens up. For me, that wasn’t enough to keep me playing, but if you’re someone that loves to sink hours into a game to see just how fast you can beat it, SUPERHOT will last a lot longer. There are a number of additional modes, like challenge and endless. I didn’t find a lot of value in them, but this game was definitely built for the speedrunning community. If you’re into speedrunning, you’ll probably love this game. It’s entirely possible to complete it faster and faster, and there are leaderboards dedicated entirely to how fast you can complete certain aspects.
For most people, that’s probably not enough. If you’re only interested in the story and not much else, you’re going to run out of things to do real quick. To make matters worse, the challenge maps seem to be a rehash of the story maps with different objectives. That goes for endless mode, too. It’s probably expected, but I would have liked to see a bit of variety in the challenge maps and endless mode.
SUPERHOT might be something special, but the length of the story and the high price tag make it feel like an expensive demo. I imagine that a lot has changed since the initial demo, but the length still isn’t there. Had the game been priced slightly lower, it might have been an easier recommendation, but it just doesn’t feel like there’s $25 worth of content. There is value there, but unless you plan on speedrunning the game or find yourself compelled to complete the challenges, you probably won’t find it.
Still, if the game ever ends up on sale, it might be worth picking up at a lower price point. If you’re someone that doesn’t mind a short story and doesn’t mind paying a premium to experience something new, it might even be worth picking up now. But as it stands, I think SUPERHOT Team could have done a better job with the length of the game. Considering the game has sold pretty well, perhaps that can happen in a sequel.
Developer: SUPERHOT Team
Publisher: SUPERHOT Team
Release Date: 2/25/15
- Innovative gameplay combines first person shooters and puzzles
- A unique story
- Great for speed-running, if you’re into that
- Short story
- Additional modes feel uninteresting
- High price point
Disclaimer: A copy of SUPERHOT was provided to BentoByte for the purpose of review.Tweet