Putting everything on the Nintendo Switch may have started out as a joke, but now it’s becoming painfully obvious that life imitates memes more than the other way around. With the latest cult classic Superhot catapulting itself onto the Switch at its own very figurative pace, what’s next? We’re not here to discuss that right now, but soon, we promise. But for now let’s have a natter about Superhot.
If you haven’t heard of the game before, the basic premise is that of a first person shooter, but the uniqueness doesn’t end at its minimalist polygonal art style, crumbs no. As the game proudly proclaims, time only moves when you do, meaning if you’re stood still doing absolutely nothing, so will everything else. In practice however, standing still does bring things to a relative standstill, but in truth time will still pass, just egregiously slowly. Bullets have a distinct red trail behind them, and move slowly (in a relative sense) even when you’re moving constantly, so you can simply avoid them to make living that little bit easier.
So where’s the challenge? Well, even though you have the power of time on your side, you are hideously outnumbered, and often outgunned. What’s more there’s no health bar to keep tabs on, it’s one shot and you’re dead bucko. There’s little more disheartening than scanning your surroundings and seeing a bullet coming towards you so closely that you know you won’t have time to avoid it, and believe us when we say that will happen more than you’d like.
The game isn’t grotesquely difficult, but the initial learning curve is surprisingly steep. Once you get it down you get it down, but trying to switch off that DOOM instinct telling you to run and gun because standing still means undeniable death is no easy task, especially when this game commands a more meticulous and well-planned approach. Standing still is the key to victory until you reach ludicrous levels of practice which we’ll discuss briefly later.
We haven’t actually said if the gameplay is fun yet though, and that’s because of dramatic pacing. The gameplay loop is incredibly fun, supremely satisfying, and with just the right amount of challenge to keep you from losing your cool over a single level. In fact we blitzed through the story campaign in practically a single sitting, and that’s also in part thanks to the narrative.
We don’t want to talk too much about the story so we don’t give anything away to anyone who hasn’t played it before, but suffice to say if old PCs and strange games that supercede the OS’ capabilities are your cup of tea, you’ll have yourself a rip-roaring time. The terminal that acts as the menu is incredibly detailed as well, offering ASCII-style minigames, screensavers, and other little curiosities that don’t add to the main game at all, but all serve as wonderful little pieces of attention to detail that left us with a big, stupid, nostalgic grin on our faces, even if some of us were too young to remember anything more primitive than MS DOS.
The campaign is a brief stint, but upon completion you open up a whole wealth of new content, including an endless mode that just gets you to shoot as many red dudes as you can before you misjudge a bullet’s trajectory towards your face, and challenge mode. This is some serious meat right here, as you can replay the entire campaign again, but with arbitrary limitations, including only being able to use a katana which as you might expect makes those enemies toting pistols and shotguns a mite more complex to take out. However you will have the experience of your first playthrough, and you’ll slowly realise you’re pausing to think less and less, and you find yourself slipping into a groove, which is hugely satisfying.
Performance on Switch is also solid, with a nice, generous resolution and a mostly consistent frame rate. We did experience a bit of stuttering when there was lots going on at once, but due to the slow, methodical, almost puzzle-like nature, it didn’t affect our ability to be super or hot at any time.
Superhot offers a first-person shooter experience unlike any other, and although the main campaign is a little bit on the short side, once you’ve made it through you’ll have dozens of new ways to replay it should you wish. We’re not entirely sure why this particular phrase comes to mind, but Superhot is the most innovative shooter we’ve played in years.