I guess the game is officially called SUPERHOT. We’ll get back to that.
You may have heard about this one: time is way slowed down, and only speeds up when you move. You use the slow-mo time to carefully plan a killing spree: throw a telephone at a featureless red guy, catch the gun that he drops, shoot him, and face the next red guy. A single shot or melee hit will kill you; if you die you start the level over. Once you’ve finished you see a real-time edit of your run, looking like the expert maneuvers of a master spy.
The look of the game makes Mirror’s Edge look like Normal Rockwell: everything is white except for weapons you can use (black) and enemies (red). The red dudes shatter when you hit them like they’re made of glass.
If this sounds like a neat mechanic, well, it is. It’s simple but satisfying. The game description says that “time only moves when you do”, but that’s not right. Things keep moving– especially bullets– so you really can’t stand there forever thinking about your next move. I think this actually works better than a complete time-stop, because it forces you to try something. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to look around and make sure you’ve got everyone. You generally have multiple options. If you die and replay a level, enemies come from the same places but may be armed differently.
There are bullet-time sequences in other games (e.g. Max Payne and Singularity), but it’s almost the whole game here. Near the end you get another mechanic, which makes the action sequences even more insane.
I got through it in five hours, which is comparable to Portal. And that’s probably about right for the concept. I’m not sure twenty more levels would have added much. When you’re done you get challenge modes (e.g. I did some where you can only use a katana), so you could certainly get more hours out of it.
The designers evidently couldn’t come up with a story, so they threw a sort of cyberpunk atmosphere around it. Outside the action sequences, the game is all 1980s style ASCII graphics, including folders full of pixel art. One section is a pretty hilarious simulation of a chatroom focused on Superhot, complete with spammers, noobs, and ban-happy mods.
The cyberpunk stuff stops short of being a story, though at least it never becomes annoying. The game is maybe a little too infatuated with itself– e.g. when you finish a level, the replay is overlaid with a flashing SUPERHOT logo and someone intoning SUPERHOT. Thankfully you can turn this off with F5.
Basically, it’s a trifle, but a very enjoyable one that’s done before it wears out its welcome.