When SUPERHOT came out originally back in September of 2013, I, like most everyone else, was blown away. The mechanic—time moves when you do—was something that I had never seen before in a shooter game, or anywhere else for that matter. And so I was hyped when the game got on Steam Greenlight, and I was hyped when the Kickstarter succeeded, and I was hyped when I found out that it was finally getting released.
I was so hyped about SUPERHOT, I bought it on release day. I never do that; the last time I bought a game on release day, it was Hotline Miami 2, almost a year ago.
I had fun playing this game. I had a lot of fun playing this game. It was really damn good.
Sure, the game could get frustrating at times. But it's fantastic when you take out a room full of red dudes using only your fists, and then watch the replay at full speed and see what looks like a perfectly choreographed action scene, like something out of The Matrix or Hard Boiled. You feel more involved, more into the gun fight, when you can see the bullets whizzing past you, and see the red dude pull the trigger, and still have time to decide to pick up a pool ball, throw it at the guy with the pistol, take his pistol, and jump on the guy with the shotgun. It's great.
The graphic style is really nice, and it works a lot better than if the game went with a more realistic style. The minimalist style lets you focus on what matters: the people, the weapons, and the bullets. This is how I imagine John McClane sees the world.
If that was all I had to say about the game, it would sound pretty great, right? Well, there's a few problems with it—one big one, mostly—that you might want to know before you pay $25 for it.
First, in order of least to most important, is their replay system. It's not great. Once you're finished playing a level, you have the option of watching and editing a replay. Once you're done editing, you can save it... to the cloud, on their "Killstagram" service. This upload takes annoyingly long, sometimes has inexplicable errors, and—worst of all—there doesn't seem to be a way to see your replay after you've uploaded it. You can go to Killstagram.com, link your Steam account to a Killstagram account, and... then what? You can't view your uploads; it tells you "Not yet. Soon." You can view a seemingly random selection of other people's replays, if that's your thing. There also isn't a way, as far as I can tell, to save replays on your local PC. I assume (hope, really) that this will be getting some updates soon.
A little more importantly: the story. The basic setup is that your friend sends you a crack for this game called SUPERHOT that's "the most innovative shooter [they]'ve played in years." But the game keeps kicking you out after a few levels, and eventually starts yelling at you for playing it. But all this story (with a few exceptions) happens in cutscenes between levels, mostly in a DOS-like chat interface. You can't skip these cutscenes. Now, don't get me wrong, I like story in games. It's why I like Fallout: New Vegas and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. But the story in SUPERHOT, while not necessarily bad, is... annoying. It feels less like the engrossing dialogue of Fallout: New Vegas and more like the pages of "worldbuilding" you find in random books in Skyrim; there's a distinct separation between "game" and "story." Some people might want to pause the "game" part and just focus on the "story," but some people (I think most people) want their game and story together. And, without the option to skip the "story" parts, it just ends up being annoying; I don't want to watch a chat program-based cutscene; I want to kill red dudes. I don't want some kind of meta commentary about video games; I want to kill red dudes.
But the most important issue, in my option, is the length of SUPERHOT. The game only took me about two and a half hours to complete, and some people say it's taken them even less time. And it costs $22.50, soon to be $25.
That's about $10 per hour of gameplay.
Now, those hours were pretty fun hours. But were they worth $10? I don't think so. There are plenty of games that cost a fraction of the price that will entertain you more. Hell, you could go to a theater and pay half that price for the same amount of entertainment.
I wouldn't even be that concerned about the playtime if the game had more to offer me when I was done. But an endless mode and a challenge mode? That's not enough. There aren't new levels for these; it's just the same levels you played in the story. I'd love to see a map editor for this game, with Steam Workshop support. Something that would extend the playtime with new content.
It's Up To You
Are you willing to spend $25 on two to three hours of content? Or are you willing to spend $25 on the hope that there will be more content coming? If so, you should buy this game.
But I'm disappointed, really. This game had so much potential—has so much potential. And the stuff that's there, it's really, really good. But I expected more. And maybe we'll get it. I hope we will.
But the game right now, with the playtime as short as it is—I can't recommend this to anyone who has a limited supply of money.