You know that part in a movie shootout when the bad guy runs out of bullets and he throws the gun at the good guy? Because why not? What else are you going to do with an empty gun? But it never works in the movies because the good guy tricks the bad guy by ducking.
Superhot, which is not the movies, will have none of this nonsense.
After the jump, what’s white and red and white all over?
Superhot is a stripped down cyberbare John Woo action sequence sim. Until you move, everything is frozen. Time, movement, gravity, the glowing red manniquins you’re fighting, everything freezes as you consider the situation. A guy over there with a gun, a guy right in front of you with a baseball bat, someone entering down the hall with what looks like a shotgun. You have one bullet left. Do you wait for it to chamber since you just fired a bullet, which is frozen on what looks like a possible trajectory to the guy with the gun? Or do you just throw your gun to stun him and knock the weapon out of his hand? Think about it. Think about it all you want. No one’s going anywhere. Time, movement, gravity, everything will resume as soon as you take a step. At which point you will execute the most exquisite ballet of gunplay this virtual world has ever seen.
The Matrix crossed with the matrix crossed with what videogames incorrectly called bullet time. Carefully calculation action, more calcuation than action because the actual action is over so quickly. In real time, these levels would be mere seconds long. That’s all it takes for choreography this precise and lethal.
Once you’ve cleared the four or five guys that comprise a level, it replays as a whitehot whited out full speed action sequence, as pure as the bright polygons that make up the level geometry. That was you. Badass extraordinaire. This is how the world looks and plays to The Flash or Quicksilver. Cue Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle.
It might at first seem like a thin gimmick, a mere tech demo. And it sort of is. But the developers have done a great job building it into a story with little more than a DOS hacker front-end. They have swaddled their gimmick in a sexy retro metashell that would make Hideo Kojima proud. So what if it’s over quickly? Would you rather have another 12-hour bog standard shooter or two hours of something starkly original? Superhot is for people who instantly know the answer to that question is two hours of something starkly original. If you’re the sort of person to have to think about it, you’re not ready for what Superhot offers.
Once you get through the storyline — easily done in one sitting — it loses some of the supersexy as it transitions into challenges that unlock more challenges. Now it’s a puzzle game, and a frequently satisfying puzzle game. It’s not like the conceit got old while you were playing the storyline. Superhot is a game that knows not to wear out its welcome. It knows to leave you wanting more. Think of it as the videogame equivalent of a brilliant short film. Wasn’t that great, and wouldn’t you be excited to see it developed into something feature length? Stranger things have happened.