Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: March 9, 2018
Superhot VR is a first-person shooter available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. Superhot originated at a 7 Day First-Person Shooter game jam in August 2013 in which only one month of refinement was enough to win the Developer Showcase award at WGK Conference in September 2013. Upon releasing Superhot’s award-winning game build online; it quickly became critically acclaimed making it through the Steam Greenlight process within a weekend. Due to such popular demand; the development team decided to expand Superhot significantly further through a Kickstarter campaign which began on May 14th 2014 that proved to be ultimately successful as their funding aim of $100,000 was met within 24 hours before going onto earn over $250,000 in crowd funding which enabled the development team to venture into not only expanding the gameplay, but also increasing its immersion in virtual reality. Can Superhot VR produce the most unique first-person shooter experience on any virtual reality platform?
Superhot VR’s unique concept is that time only moves when you do in a method that is reminiscent of bullet-time scenes from The Matrix and Max Payne; which is played out through numerous individual scenarios that are grouped together between checkpoints. It is an entertaining concept, but there are a few flaws here or there. After a tutorial to get the player up to speed; you are asked for your commitment to Superhot by aiming the PlayStation Move controller at your temple and pulling the trigger which is a poor gameplay design decision given how mental health is perceived in this day and age, especially as some videogame developers are trying to help people with their gameplay experiences. Elsewhere, there are far too few checkpoints meaning that if an enemy kills your character one scenario before the checkpoint, then you will have to play through a few scenarios once again before you have another chance at reaching the next checkpoint and if your character is defeated in the same scenario, then you will have to go back and do it yet again which can potentially lead to frustration. However, the flipside to the checkpoints being spaced as far as they are is that it feels rewarding when progressing beyond a hard set of scenarios.
There are an extraordinary amount of unlockable modes and challenges. For instance, there are four endless modes including unlimited which enables the player to have more freedom in how they approach each scenario, while race tasks the player with killing 30 enemies as fast as possible in real-time, alongside time that provides 20 seconds of the player’s movement for the player to defeat as many enemies as possible and real increases the time limit to one minute. There are numerous challenges including a speedrun in which your best time when your character moves and score is saved and compared against the red score for each level, while a barehands challenge sees the player only being able to use their character’s fists, despite your enemies being fully armed, alongside fullstop which tasks the player to overcome enemies despite every weapon only having one bullet in it with bullets flying faster; and much more variation in challenges besides.
Enemy design is appropriately the colour red that represents danger within the shape of a person, albeit abstract in aesthetics as there is no facial details or muscle definition.
Superhot is more than a shooter by the diversity of its weaponry including guns such as pistols, uzis, shotguns and rifles, while melee weapons allow the player to strike or throw them at enemies such as baseball bats, chains, clubs, crowbars, katanas, knives, shurikens and much more besides. When all else fails and there are no weapons nearby, your character can resort to using their fists to punch enemies before picking up their weapons from mid-air and firing at other enemies. Bullets fired by enemies can be deflected through picking up objects when available in your nearby surroundings to hold in the path of the bullet as makeshift armour or alternatively firing at the bullet, swiping or throwing a melee weapon in what is a showcase of some impressively precise physics.
Despite the small amount of colours; the environment design is surprisingly varied as your character battles through scenarios in corridors, bars, all manner of indoor rooms, alongside outdoor environments such as car parks or an outdoor centre to a building.
Superhot VR has various differences throughout the gameplay from its non-VR version as Superhot VR has some of the non-VR releases’s scenarios, but also has a lot of completely alternate scenarios, while the non-VR version has free movement instead of dodging bullets in the VR release. The non-VR version does not contain the replay feature found in the non-VR release which allows players to edit the replay before sharing it with the world via the share feature; most probably as it may cause motion sickness if the player went from controlling every movement in their own time to watching it back, especially if there was a quick sideways turn.
Given how long it has been since the Vita had a first-person shooter; Superhot would have been a perfect fit for the Vita, although remote play is a consolation. The non-VR version of Superhot’s remote play performance is on par with the quality of graphics, audio and general performance of the PS4 version. Remote play control optimisations include shooting weapons being re-mapped to R, while jumping moves to the top left of the rear touch pad; resulting in a very playable remote play experience.
Superhot VR is not compatible with DualShock 4 controllers instead opting to utilise two PlayStation Move controllers that represent your left and right hands. Either hand can pick up guns, melee weapons and objects by reaching out with the nearest hand and pressing the trigger button; aiming rather immersively by utilising the head tracking between the PlayStation Camera and PlayStation VR; pressing the trigger button again to fire a weapon at enemies or alternatively press the Move button to drop a weapon in favour of picking up another such as when a gun has no bullets; pressing the Move button during a throwing motion with the Move controller to throw a melee weapon at an enemy; and holding start to reset head tracking. PlayStation Move controllers vibrate when firing a weapon to reflect the recoil of the gun.
The non-VR version of Superhot maps shooting your character’s guns to pressing R2; pressing L2 to jump; pressing X to pick-up a weapon; pressing O to throw a weapon at an enemy; holding triangle to restart the current scenario; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. At the end of a scenario upon hearing the words superhot; the light bar produces white during super and red during hot, although for the majority of gameplay the light bar remains a neutral blue.
Graphically, Superhot VR and the non-VR version are both stylistically distinctive as enemies are red, weapons are black and environments have various shades of white, grey and black combined together to effectively create abstract surroundings. There are some subtle details such as sunlight shining through windows to cast a noticeable change in shade on a wall, while defeating an enemy sees the red figure shatter into pieces in an excellent use of particle effects, alongside a muzzle flash when firing a weapon and a red contrail moving in slow motion behind the bullet fired by your character or enemies.
Presentation is very minimalist but appropriately themed to the subject matter of Superhot VR such as when completing the tutorial; the player is presented with a floppy disk that needs to be inserted into the drive before reaching out to place a virtual reality headset on your character’s head. There are also some overlays such as when a particular scenario begins with an enemy standing immediately in front of you in which punching the enemy displays the words “Bye bye” in large white capital letters.
Sound effects are minimal yet effective as they include the whooshing of slow-motion movement, firing and throwing weapons and the breaking of glass when an enemy or your character has been defeated. The non-VR version produces the words super hot during replays through the DualShock 4 speaker.
The trophy list includes 26 trophies with 12 bronze trophies, 6 silver trophies, 7 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy, while it is also worth mentioning that the separate non-VR version of Superhot has an entirely different platinum trophy list. Easier trophies include the You Are Prepared bronze trophy for completing your training and the Butterhands bronze trophy for throwing every available object on any level other than during tutorials. Harder trophies include the You Are Now Free gold trophy for finishing the story; the Treasure Hunter gold trophy for finding all secrets; and the GG EZ gold trophy for beating all challenges. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although there is a noticeable difficulty curve, especially in certain environments such as those containing cars that provide cover for the entire body and legs of enemies situated behind the cars, while almost every scenario features multiple enemies firing or using melee weapons as they approach from differing sides and angles; therefore the difficulty curve gradually increases as you progress through each scenario even to a point of having enemies firing from elevated vantage points.
For family and friends situated in the same room; the TV presents what the player is experiencing, albeit without the same quality of depth in comparison to virtual reality. There is no social screen multiplayer which is a missed opportunity to introduce local multiplayer through having the VR player attempting to defeat the enemies as the TV player controls each group of enemies by deciding the approach and formation in a competitive multiplayer battle throughout every scenario. Meanwhile, there are no online leaderboards which could have produced further competitive gameplay by having an online leaderboard displaying the fastest times set by every player who had completed each respective scenario.
Superhot VR’s replayability stems from the unique gameplay concept, alongside numerous scenarios spread out between checkpoints, unlockable endless modes and challenges that will collectively have players returning for quite some time.
- Title: Superhot VR
- Developer: Superhot Team
- Publisher: Superhot Team
- System: PlayStation VR
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1
- Hard Drive Space Required: Superhot VR – 3.62GB (Version 1.07 – Retail/Download)/Superhot – 3.61GB (Version 1.01 – Download)