SUPERHOT VR looks like a winner on paper. Here is a game that combines stunning minimalist visuals with action that’s immediate, tactical and fantastic fun.
SUPERHOT VR should be a killer app for the PSVR; it’s an undeniably unique take on a genre that’s more than a little overcrowded and gorgeous to behold. But it’s let down by control issues and the shonky latency of its interface.
If you’ve never heard of SUPERHOT VR (or indeed SUPERHOT in general), it’s tagged as an FPS that moves when you do. What this means is that players are chucked into environments filled with red, crystalline humanoid foes, whose actions freeze when the player stops moving.
It’s a brilliant mechanic, really. Whereas most shooters put a premium on bodycounts and call on players to have fly-like reflexes, SUPERHOT’s time-slowing aspect turns every gun battle into a puzzle.
If the player is motionless, the enemies in their environment slow to a crawl, allowing them to register threats and items in reach they can use as weapons. The faster they move, the faster their enemies move, so near-death situations can be slowed down to the point at which a solution can present itself, which is handy since SUPERHOT is a one-hit-one-kill affair.
It looks visually stunning too. If the player stops in the middle of a firefight, they’ll likely marvel at the sight of bullets moving at snail’s pace past their head or enemies slowly splintering into pieces in glorious showers of red crystal. Imagine you’re Neo in The Matrix and all your enemies are faceless humanoids made of glass and you’ll start to get the idea.
There’s even a very decent plot underpinning all the action and, even though one could argue it’s utterly unnecessary, it’s clever enough to raise a wry smile in FPS fans by the end. The campaign itself lasts around three hours – deaths and restarts notwithstanding – but players also open up challenges and speed runs that’ll keep them occupied beyond this.
So SUPERHOT VR should be an unqualified success on PSVR. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, for a couple of reasons – both of which revolve around the game’s interface.
First up, SUPERHOT VR loses a point or two for forcing players to use the PS Move controllers to play it. Really, there’s no reason players shouldn’t be given the option to use the DualShock and those who don’t own a pair of Sony lollipops face having to shell out more money on top of the cost of the game – and that bites.
On top of this, both the VR headset and the PS Move wands suffer from motion tracking issues. Players may lose count of the number of times they reach out for an item in their environment and see their virtual hands slip straight through it.
When things work the way they’re supposed to, SUPERHOT VR is a marvel; smashing an enemy’s head to pieces with a bottle and then catching their gun to turn on their mates as they drop to the ground never gets old. But in a game in which precisions and timing are crucial, the controls just aren’t accurate enough at times – and since players are dumped back to the start of a level every time they die, this starts to become hellishly annoying after a time.
SUPERHOT VR Review: Verdict
It’s these issues that stop SUPERHOT VR just short of greatness. There’s plenty to admire about this game; It looks great, the soundtrack’s awesome and SUPERHOT Team’s application of its simple, but rather fantastic time-bending mechanic never ceases to amaze. But players should prepare for regular moments of pure frustration. If that seems like a trade-off you can make for moments of sheer brilliance, dive right in.
- SUPERHOT VR was reviewed on PS4. Review code was provided by the publisher.