When I first heard of SUPERHOT VR I was incredibly excited to get this new experience in the incredibly stylish, time-bending world of 2016’s hit first person shooter. After all, the original game was something I absolutely loved playing through, so more of that but with the power of virtual reality behind it felt like a must play game. Then I found out that you don’t actually move in the game, but are instead fixed to one position. It seemed odd and a little off-putting, especially since the game’s main hook is built around the fact that time only moves when you do. After playing the game though all worries about the lack of movement were alleviated; SUPERHOT VR doesn’t only re-create the series’ time-based mechanics perfectly, but also just so happens to be one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in virtual reality so far.
For those who’ve never seen the game before, SUPERHOT VR is a first person shooter that sees time only move forward when you’re moving in-game. Traditionally, this would happen when you’re running around or shooting at enemies, but given SUPERHOT VR’s use of static positions for your character it instead goes forward when you move your arms. The Playstation Move controllers are compulsory for the game, so if you don’t have them you’re out of luck.
Each level of the game puts you in a series of different scenarios, with each one sending a good few enemies your way from all directions and offering you a small variety of weapons in your immediate vicinity to use against them. Once you clear out all enemies (or complete a small objective), you move on to the next scenario until eventually you clear the level. It’s a simple process, but an enjoyable one; there’s something incredibly fun about dodging bullets Matrix-style, all whilst blasting away at enemies with a variety of firearms or projectile weapons. You even eventually learn a telekinetic skill that allows you to kill enemies by focusing your ‘mind powers’ on them. It’s a little cheap, sure, but it’s incredibly satisfying to perform in-game when you’ve got that one enemy hounding you that you can’t quite take out.
The way in which the levels are structured almost makes it feel like a puzzle game to some degree, with each scenario almost always having what seems like an obvious solution to completing it. Don’t get me wrong, there are always multiple ways to approach these scenarios – for example, in one situation you might punch an enemy, grab his gun, and then shoot any foes coming your way, or alternatively you could use some nicely placed shurikens that just so happen to be right next to you to impale enemies in the face – but there’s always a fixed solution that seems to work every time once you figure it out. There are nineteen levels available in total and they all seem to offer something completely different for you to be wary of, but once you figure out the *right* way to approach them they shouldn’t cause too much fuss.
Whenever you complete a scenario you’ll be placed in a different location of the level with new challenges coming your way – all you’ve got to do is grab the strange little pyramid that appears in front of you after clearing out the enemies required to progress. This method of transportation is quick and convenient, allowing you to navigate the level with minimal fuss and no motion sickness whatsoever. It also makes for some terrific moments in-game too; a personal favourite was when I was able to throw a gun towards the next point of a level I was about to reach, then grab the gun as I transported there and use it to kill all the enemies that appeared around me. The time bending mechanics are incredibly slick and particularly shine during moments like that.
Whilst having each level built up of smaller scenarios was cool, it could make for a few frustrating moments. Each time you die you start the entire level again, forcing you to play through everything you’ve done already. There’s nothing more frustrating than patiently making your way through a level only to die right at the end, sending you right back to the start to do it all over again. There’s often a trial and error process to the game that sees you figuring out the best approach to each scenario but dying a lot in the process, so having to replay through the same things over and over again whilst trying to work these out could be a nuisance. The only silver lining is that SUPERHOT VR is so fun that have to replay parts over and over again doesn’t feel like too much of a burden… well… until you come to a level that seems to take ages to get through, that is.
The game demands you’ve got your camera and position set up perfectly too, with plenty of empty space required around you to reach out and grab at objects. A lot of virtual reality games usually offer a decent amount of flexibility with how much room you need around you, but SUPERHOT VR’s insistence of having weapons placed everywhere and often at a fair distance means it can be a pain to reach out and grab them. If the move controller goes out of range you simple can’t reach these weapons, which is something that can be the difference between life and death in-game.
Whilst I loved playing through SUPERHOT VR, it was a little disappointing that I was able to complete it in less than two hours. There are additional modes on offer post-completion, but nothing drew me in as much as extra levels would have. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone through the entire game again and enjoyed it just as much as my first playthrough, but it would’ve nice if the campaign was a little bit meatier, especially with the £19.99 price tag. Here’s hoping for some DLC levels in the future…
SUPERHOT VR is one of those virtual reality titles that manages to nail everything perfectly, with the action-packed gameplay and incredibly stylish vibe of the game gelling together incredibly well within the confines of the Playstation VR headset. Being able to dodge bullets all whilst throwing shurikens, bottles, knives, or just shooting at enemies was incredibly satisfying, whilst the clever time-bending mechanics ensure that the game offers you an experience like no other on virtual reality headsets right now.
It might be short in length, but much like its predecessor, SUPERHOT VR is simply a must own title.
Developer: SUPERHOT Team
Publisher: SUPERHOT Team
Release Date: 19/07/2017
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift