By Nathan Grayson on August 26th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.
Oh goodness gracious, Super Hot is a great, ultra-stylish game concept. Now, I use the word “concept” because there’s not a whole lot to it yet (such is the nature of many 7DFPS standouts, sadly), but what’s here is a brilliant, almost puzzle-like take on time manipulation in first-person shooters. In short, time slows to a near-imperceptible crawl whenever you stop moving, enabling you to dictate the pace of, well, everything. It also looks really, really cool. Dancing between bullet storms with the greatest of ease – pausing to just marvel at the dust fleck of certain death mere millimeters from your forehead – is a magnificent feeling. Only problem is, it makes things rather easy.
At this point, Super Hot is only made up of a few stages, each of which grows in complexity and difficulty, but still never reaches a fever pitch that I would describe as “challenging.” Your goal is always the same: kill everyone in a relatively confined area. Simple enough, but you rarely have enough ammo to pull it off in a single, Matrix-like pirouette around the room. Your best bet, then, is to down a couple enemies, lose the remaining blood-red baddies who’ve opened fire, and then sneak over to a dropped weapon – still burning from its owner’s once-warm touch.
But that’s no fun. I prefer to zigzag between bullets one-by-one, with each push of the W key prompting another hail that just barely halts before turning me into Swiss cheese. It’s a never-ending staring contest with Death, and I always win.
All too often, however, I feel like I’m able to get away with such brazen antics a little too easily. Super Hot’s puzzle-like level design holds potential, but it still fails to take full advantage of its excellent central mechanic. A couple scenarios – like one where you start off by crashing through a roof at your own start-and-stop pace – show huge promise, but they never follow through. Before long, it’s the same old all-too-straightforward song and dance. Enemy AI that could charitably be described as “blind and also a goldfish” doesn’t help matters.
The Super Hot team is already hard at work on more, though, and I’m interested to see where the game’s story of what seems to be a paradoxically out-of-control psychotic breakdown goes. For now, you can play the 7DFPS build here, and I very much recommend you do despite its flaws. It’s a brilliant idea that’s mesmerizing to play around with – lukewarm execution or not.