Last year, a title named Superhot came out of nowhere and gained a lot of critical and community praise for being a smart, stylized action puzzle title. Commonly found on many gamers’ top ten lists, Superhot was a success and had players clamoring for more. Developer Superhot Team decided to take the title into the VR space by launching Superhot VR this year for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive PC headsets earlier this year. The team also translated the experience to Sony’s Playstation VR platform and released it on the Playstation Network this week. How does Superhot stack up on PSVR? Let’s take a look.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the game, Superhot is a first person action/puzzle game that takes place in a sterile virtual world. Red polygonal enemies appear in a series of environments and attempt to kill you. What’s interesting about Superhot is that time stands still unless the player physically moves, allowing time to move with them while matching the speed of moment.
In order to succeed, you have to figure out a way to dispatch each enemy without taking any damage yourself. Typically, this consists of picking up a gun, aiming and shooting at the enemy while choosing your movements carefully to avoid a bullet to the head. You can also pick up objects such as bottles and ash trays to throw at enemies too. If you fire off a shot, time will move more rapidly than your actual movements. As a resyktm taking time into account with each pull of the trigger is important to your success.
The strategy of Superhot comes from dodging enemy attacks while also knowing which enemies to attack first in order to proceed unharmed. If an enemy fires off a handgun round towards your face, you have to physically move your body out of the way in order to avoid it. Dodging while carefully grabbing weapons and aiming properly without getting hit can be quite challenging. Controlling the speed of your moments while scanning the environment looking for threats without speeding up time TOO much is a skill you must master.
The incredible thing is that once you pull a challenge off, you’ll feel like Neo from The Matrix, giving you an extremely satisfying feeling. The first time I shot an enemy, grabbed his gun in mid air, and turned around and blew another enemy’s head off, was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in VR. Seeing the bullets wiz past me in 3D while I contorted my body in funny positions to avoid them was fun, even though it made my wife look at me a little strangely.
Superhot in VR is a different game compared to the non-VR version. The game has different challenges, controls and mechanics. As a player, you must stand in the same spot the entire time while using your body to duck, dodge and attack. Using the Playstation Move controllers, players can grab objects using the trigger buttons and let go with the Move button. Grabbing objects such as bottles and knifes can be swung to hit enemies or thrown by holding the Move button while swinging your arm. Once you execute a perfect ballet of movements to conquer a challenge, you’ll find yourself working up quite a sweat.
Aiming can be tricky since there isn’t any sort of reticle that helps you determine where your shots will land. I felt like a lot of my shots would end up hitting areas that were unintentional. Some challenges require you to shoot enemies at a pretty far distance, making for smaller targets. Many times I had to rely on aiming blindly and praying my shots would land on an enemy instead of skillfully aiming and firing. The throwing mechanics never feel right either since every throw felt as if the object would fly in the opposite direction.
Combined with your typical PSVR tracking issues, all of this can make several of Superhot’s challenges very frustrating. A few points in the game require you to physically bend down and pick up a gun or object from the floor. Every single one of these moments threw the tracking off on the Move controllers and made picking those weapons up an exercise in frustration. Be prepared to hold down the Options button often to reset your tracking. Since the game requires so much body movement, I often found myself turned around in my room and off center from the Playstation camera, which can ruin a challenge very quickly.
Superhot’s scenarios come in clusters of small challenges that combined play out as one big action sequence. Each scenario can have up to five or six different challenges. If you fail one of these challenges, the game will revert you back to the beginning of the scenario. This forces you to choose your movements carefully in order to avoid having to start all over again. Even though this is mostly where the puzzle element stems from, I’m not the biggest fan of the progression in Superhot VR.
Some of these challenges are very difficult to pull off and there’s at least two of them in each scenario. Having to constantly play through a series of tough challenges only to be thrown back to the beginning after taking a bullet can lead to a lot of frustration, especially combined with the tracking issues. I would have been happier if the developers would have tweaked the game a bit to compensate for the lack of technology here. Although, being a bit more relaxed in this situation could have made the game too easy as well, so it’s a give and take.
Visually, Superhot VR isn’t going to make any jaws drop, but it fits into the VR realm very well thanks to the polygonal art style. Everything consists of black, red and white which make objects and enemies easily visible at all times. The problem is that the game looks very jaggy on PSVR, even running on a Playstation 4 Pro. I feel like the developers could have cleaned this up a bit since the game is so simplistic graphically. Also, I ran into several glitches involving areas not loading up correctly, forcing me to exit the game and re-open it.
While it may sound like I’m complaining a lot here, I genuinely really enjoyed playing Superhot in VR. Dodging enemy bullets in a virtual space while pretending to be John Wick is extremely satisfying. It’s an incredibly clever game that merges first person action with puzzle-like gameplay. Unfortunately, the PSVR limitations hurt the game quite a bit and many challenges can be frustrating due to poor aiming and throwing mechanics that come from the inaccurate motion controls. I genuinely feel like a lot of the issues stem from the technology, not the development. The game is rather short and can be completed in under two hours. Still, I highly recommend checking out Superhot VR if you own any of the three VR headsets. Although, I do think the game is better played outside of VR.
Superhot VR was reviewed on a Playstation 4 Pro with a copy provided by the publisher