Superhot

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I’ve never been a big fan of single-player shooters. There are certainly games I love in the genre, but, as a whole, it takes a lot to get me to play the single-player campaign of any given shooter. Yet the first time I saw Superhot in action, I knew this one was special.

The hook is simple: time only moves when you do. This means instead of being a twitch shooter, it’s a slow, intentional game where you’re dodging bullets, throwing objects, and firing back methodically, step by step so as to avoid the pinpoint accuracy of the red AI opponents.

The game plays more like a puzzle than a shooter. You have plenty of time to aim and most of the times you can stop and think your way through a given moment in a fight before you jump back into action. You’ll prioritize targets, take cover, pop out for a quick shot, and then punch the guy coming up behind you. And when you finish a level, you’re treated to a real-time version of your actions which make you like like the most precise, elegant, and masterful FPS player on the planet.

It helps that the aesthetic is a modern, simple design. There are only four colors: black, white, gray, and red. The black is for any objects that you can pick up and use, the white is for the background, the gray give the background some definition and depth, and the red are the badguys you are supposed to kill. Everything is communicated clearly and succinctly as well as crafting a striking visual style.

The game also has a clever plot. Superhot is this game being passed around on the dark corners of the Internet and no one’s quite sure why it exists or who made it. As the player peels back the layers, the game explores themes of addiction, violence, compliance, and control through it’s bizarre metanarrative.

In a genre as stale and pedantic as the FPS, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. Superhot is a blast of fresh air, an elegant, beautiful game that shows you don’t need a long campaign or superb graphics to make a great shooter, just a satisfying gameplay loop and an innovative idea.

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© 2016 James Blake Ewing