Superhot is already a ridiculous game. One of the best shooters I’ve ever played (albeit a bit short), but the concept is nonetheless ridiculous. Playing as a lonely gamer with an old 540×540 screen that can somehow play 3d shooter games without a problem, you make your way through a game that manipulates you and your computer to the point where it makes you question whether it’s you that’s playing the game or the game that’s playing you. A concept like this one isn’t the easiest to port to VR, but with Superhot VR, they’ve done it.
Superhot Team have changed the game’s layout, and so the amount of levels has changed, and so have the levels themselves, as well as the “hub” of sorts that you keep returning to (although the only thing you can really do is look around or continue). The changes they’ve made are self-explanatory for the most part because there’s no WASD keys or joystick to move around with.
The game starts off with a bang. Although it technically is a hand-holding tutorial, it’s only there to tell you how to hold your own hands and then you’re off to shooting and punching people. Not long after you’ve been shooting your way through the first and by far the easiest part of the game, you’re asked if you’re ready to play. Instead of your usual “press start to play” that would appear after the intro sequence, you’re given a gun and have to prove your dedication. It takes a minute or two until you realize what you have to do, but when you do, it’s probably the craziest moment of the game.
Next thing you know, you’re sitting in a cramped little room with three monitors. It’s your room, and judging by the several sticky notes on the computers which all have a similar face drawn on them, you’re a stereotypically fat 30-year-old gamer with a neckbeard (who’s probably living at his mom’s place). Stick the floppy disk in and put the VR mask on and get ready to kick some major ass (or get your ass kicked). After that it’s fairly smooth sailing, but it definitely gets harder.
There are several major improvements thanks to VR over the original Superhot game on PC and consoles. The first of which is the fact that you can actually dodge bullets. In a game with a concept like Superhot, where time moves when you do, you’d think there’d be more Matrix-style moments, but when you’re disconnected from what’s happening and all you can do is move left, right, up and down and jump, it’s not the easiest thing to do without QTEs (which would ultimately ruin the experience). This is why VR is a much better fit for the game, because if you can move your whole body and dodge bullets, the game feels much more complete.
Another improvement is the fact that you’re not only able to dual-wield, but also slice, dice, and snipe in any direction you please. Obviously this is nearly if not impossible when playing with a keyboard and mouse or just a normal controller, but it still fits the game much more than such a fixed aim. Someone’s trying to punch you? No worries! Punch them in the face. Shoot them in the leg. Do both at the same time! Due to your hands being visible on the screen you can also reach out and grab someone’s gun if you’re close enough, which fits perfectly with the game. There’s something oddly poetic about dodging someone’s shots, then taking their gun and proceeding to shoot them in the balls with it.
Although music is purely for the ambiance and only plays softly in the background, sound effects are very dominant. The cool thing is, if you hear a shot coming from the right, you can slowly turn and dodge it, instead of the usual tactics you have to use when playing without VR. It’s also really satisfying when you see a bottle in the distance (when all the enemies are dead, of course), shoot at it, turn around to keep looking for things to do before you move on, then hear it shatter behind you. What’s even more satisfying, however, is the sound of firing two shotguns at once and watching them down all the enemies in one blow.
The one main downside of using VR for Superhot, however, is that throwing anything except a shuriken or a knife just doesn’t work well. It tries to be too exact and tell exactly where your hand is flicking, but it doesn’t work well. This probably is different across the different VR platforms, but motion controller tracking isn’t the most accurate technology in those cameras required to swing around like a madman for gaming. Nevertheless, it still destroys one of the biggest mechanics of Superhot, which was being able to fling your empty weapons at enemies to make them drop theirs. It’s somewhat replaced by being able to take the weapon straight out of their hands, but if they’re a bit too far away, it just doesn’t work well.
All in all, however, Superhot VR is a ridiculously fun experience which somehow manages to make Superhot more Superhot. It takes everything that makes the concept great but couldn’t be done well with a traditional gaming setup and does them, immersing you into the Superhot experience like never before. Sadly, throwing things is too finicky, and although it’s partly at fault of the hardware, there are still several things they could’ve done to either fix it, or even change the mechanic to make it fit the platform better, just like they did with the other core elements of the game.
Review copy provided
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