SuperHot: Time moves only when you move

There are many different types of computer game and I’ve played most over the years but the games that intrigue me most are the ones that bend the rules and play with the standard genres. SuperHot is the unlikely hybrid of a “strategy game” with a “first-person shoot-em-up” (FPS), which works amazingly well. It also combines a disorienting back story which suggests you are hacking into the game itself and a shadowy admin is exerting mind control over you, and while this is odd it doesn’t detract from the fun in the game itself. 

In each level you are dropped into a whitewashed landscape where red objects are enemies that must be killed and black objects are weapons to shoot or throw. You can also use your fists if you can get close enough and each level ends when either you are killed (1 bullet or 1 punch is enough) or you kill all the baddies – so far all normal FPS stuff. But the most brilliant aspect of the game is hinted at by its strapline: “Time moves when you move”. So stand still and the world around you moves at a snail’s pace – bullets inch their way towards you and shards of glass fall serenely … but pick up a weapon, shoot or or move in any direction and suddenly time restarts and it all gets very scary indeed. 

The skill comes in being able to judge which baddie is really your most immediate threat, fire your weapons or move to shelter, while dodging incoming bullets and looking around you to check for new threats. Oh, and did I say? It uses the gyro controls so you can move around to change what you see on the screen and to aim. Later in the game you can also HotSwitch into the body of one of your assailants, which adds another dimension as you try to decide which assailant is best to morph to, to give you an advantage over the others. 

SPOILERS BELOW

The story mode gives you 26 playable levels (there are a few that just contribute to the story) and once you have completed them the game unlocks 3 new “folders” with more levels. In this article they describe the levels but I’ll list them myself below as I complete them, just in case the XBox/Switch games are different and to give my own views of them:

  • Levels: all of the story levels so you can go back and replay your favourites
    • 01KICK (Time moves only when you move): an easy starter level with 2 enemies to kill
    • 02ALLEY (Grab the Gun): another easy level – just grab the gun and kill the guys to the right
    • 03CORRID: dodge the bullets until you can pick up the gun and kill the guys
    • 04DROP (You missed, throw your gun): just throw the gun at the guy in front, grab hit and then drop down from the lorry into the room. Finish off the enemies one by one by aim to get to one of their guns for extra shots 
    • 05SUBWAY (What about No): fairly easy level in a subway station
    • 06JUMP (Get over it): jump the car, move forward & left, punch the first guy and grab his gun – nice fun level 
    • 07SHOTS: starts facing the barman but enemies come in from the right and left 
    • 09FIGHTC: cage fight – quite tricky to work out who to punch first but I like to kill the guy in front, turn and move left or right and then punch them in turn. Then when the door opens it’s easy to punch each attacker in turn.
    • 10DESPER: starts in toilet – emerges into a bar with pool tables. You have a long run to get to the first weapon, dodging buckshot, but one tactic is to move right into the ante room by an entry point and let them come to you. 
    • 11BREAK: drop into a lab room – enemies shoot from outside and come in through a door on the left – good fun 
    • 13TIRALL: reversing truck – run fast back and left to shelter, then follow the truck and pick off the enemies.
    • 14SERV: server room – fairly easy. Lots of weapons on each side and plenty of straight fields of fire with cover. 
    • 99DOG1: (story level)
    • 15HOSPIT (Make Him Fly): punch the first guy, grab his gun and then work through the rooms to the left
    • 16DONUT (Inside Job): fight your way out of the store room, drop down and grab the first gun you can, then move right and keep your eyes open
    • 98DOG2: (story level)
    • 19OLDBOY (You Don’t Belong Here): fight in a long corridor – mostly fists but use the alcoves to shelter and get close to a guy with a gun then kill the rest
    • 17ELEVAT: 3 guys in a lift (move left, hit etc) and when you kill them the door opens to reveal more 
    • 99DOG3: (story level)
    • 20BALLRO: drop down to an open area with stairs and upper levels
    • 21MEETIN: throw the phone, grab the gun and clear the corridors
    • 22HACKER: (story level)
    • 25FALL (Leave This Body): HotSwitch is available from here on and it’ll be useful because you’re floating outside an office window. HotSwitch to the first guy and then work through the others one by one
    • 26STAIR (Under Construction): a fun spiral staircase level
    • 27OFFICE (Tough Day): quite a hard level but if you correctly HotSwitch then you’ll be fine
    • 28STATION: quite a difficult level but good fun when you get the HotSwitches right
    • 29TRAIN: you have to drop down from the train roof before you hit the bridge and then shoot it out with the passengers
    • 30GATE (Border Line): quite difficult – need to HotSwitch into the nearest guy then clear as many as you can, then HotSwitch into others 
    • 31LOBBY: throw the katana, grab the gun and pick off the guys
    • 32LONGWAY: (story level)
    • 32CORE: a 3-stage level where you fight and then be told to HotSwitch to the core but you’ll be rejected twice – each section gets harder and if you close the software you’ll go back to the start.
    • 34FREE: (story level)
  • Endless
    • Areas, which unlock in sequence, according to how many total kills you have in all of these areas. Each area has multiple entry points so you’ll be dropped into different positions each time, just to spice it up. Enemies seem to materialise in the same order but each time they are armed differently and this significantly affects how the game proceeds because it determines which weapons you can take and turn on the attackers: 
      • LAB#18 (It never ends): in a cramped lab area with lots of benches, pillars and entry points. It’s one of the more difficult levels to get a really high score on because it’s so chaotic. Remember to use ZL to jump over desks etc. 
      • STAIRS (Again): back to the spiral stairs “Under Construction” area from the story – really good fun but quite difficult to get a long run because enemies move across your field of fire, making aiming much harder. You really need to know how far ahead to aim and all distances.
      • BRIDGE (Endless): an open courtyard area in China Town with throwing stars and stairs up and down. Quite a fun level but a bit tricky. I have had the best results by using the doorway up to the raised room to control enemy attacks and concentrate my fire, while giving me cover. 
      • BREAKIN (Keep going): the laboratory area from the story, where you drop into a small room. This time you are better prepared and can appear in a few locations. It’s still a difficult area though because it’s cramped and there are quite a lot of entry points. I’ve had most success by fighting to the end of the long corridor so that enemies can only come from one direction. 
      • HALL (Keep going): an open computer hall with raised level and mainframes scattered around. Nice fun area allowing lots of long distance shots. The best results come from taking the raise mezzanine area and then using the stairs to concentrate fire and provide cover. 
      • LOBBY (Keep going): a long corridor with glass shop fronts either side – grab the gun on the left and move. Enemies come from both ends of the corridor and from each side. A good tactic is to break the glass to the left and then work from shelter.
      • WAREHAUS (Can’t stop, won’t stop): this is such a fun area, in an open warehouse with shelving, fork-lifts and a mezzanine office area. The key is to make it up into the office, which is full of pistols and M16s. Enemies either materialise from the entry point there; or come along a long corridor; or through the door in the far side. 
      • OFFICE (Over and over again): this is a really tricky area from the original story. The problem come in that it’s quite cramped with multiple enemy entry points close by and it’s easy to get stuck between cubicle dividers, being attacked from all sides. I have had best results by fighting my way to the entry point along a corridor with a view down to the furthest entry point. This way enemies either materialise close; or come around the dividers to the side; or approach from very far away. This gives you long fields of fire but at least 2 ways of ducking into cover if outnumbered.
      • PWRPLANT (They never stop): a very challenging area with raised levels and multiple entry points all around you. You will have to have eyes in the back of your head and move constantly because several enemies move to high, sniper vantage points. There are weapons scattered about the perimeter and more inside the main reactor building. I’ve had best results (72 kills) by finding a corner on the back of the main building near an entry point where you control 2 fields of fire at 90-degrees. This point gives you cover along both directions (and from above) and forces enemies to attack in straight lines.
    • Modes, each area has 4 modes that unlock according to how many kills you make in the Unlimited mode:
      • Unlimited: kill as many as you can before you are killed – difficulty increases 
      • Race: get to 20 kills as fast as possible
      • Time: kill as many as you can in 20 seconds of movement time
      • Real: kill as many as you can in 20 seconds of real time
    • Challenge:  (brackets show unlock requirement)
      • KATANAONLY: 25 levels to finish; faster movement; only weapon allowed is the katana – enemies can have guns; no throwing except katanas. Success on this challenge really relies on drawing the enemies close or throwing the katana as a last resort. 
      • AD2013: (beat 5 levels in KATANAONLY): 1 punch kills; no throwing objects; no melee weapons (katana, baseball bat, golf club, iron bar); moody lighting and enemies with shades and flat textures.
      • GHOST: (beat 5 levels in AD2013): hotswitch on all levels; 1 punch kills; no weapons. This time the world is red and enemies are white and, like the katana level, it relies on drawing enemies closer.
      • FULLSTOP: (beat 5 levels in GHOST): time stops still when you do (no slight movement); guns have 1 round each; enemy bullets fly faster. This challenge really catches you off guard because it looks normal but those bullets move a lot faster than before and you have to work your way through a lot more weapons. Here there is more emphasis on NOT catching any close enemy’s gun and punching him instead, before picking the gun up off the floor, saving a round. 
      • THROWING: (beat 5 levels in FULLSTOP): no shooting; every throw kills; weak punches – 5 to kill. In this one a punch will stop an enemy for a few seconds allowing you to take the gun and throw at a different enemy before finishing off the first guy.  
      • BAREHANDS: (beat 5 levels in THROWING): no weapons at all for you – just normal strength punching. Here disarming an enemy with a punch is vital if dealing with a few at a time.
      • SPEEDRUN: 25 levels to finish as fast as you can – timer only works when moving. Each level has a “red time” which is your time to beat to complete the level. This really encourages you to take the least amount of movement and to use long shots to pick off enemies.
      • SPEEDRUNRT: 25 levels to finish as fast as you can – in real time
      • HOTSWITCH: (beat 5 levels in SPEEDRUN): like a normal level but with Hotswitch enabled from the start.
      • HARDMODE: (beat 19 levels in BAREHANDS)
      • IMPOSSIBLE: (beat 25 levels in HARDMODE)
      • NORESTART: (beat 25 levels in IMPOSSIBLE)
      • ???: (beat 25 levels in NORESTART)

Some people have criticised the game for being a bit short in the story-mode and it is unusual in having autosaves which you cannot control and you cannot go back and replay levels until you have completed the story – you are just pushed down the game narrative. But I really love the additional unlocked content with the unlimited modes where you can just test your skills and this makes the game pretty long.

Things to remember: 

  • Weapons have different properties:
    • fists: three punches will kill an enemy – 2 if you previously threw something at them
    • katana: very good in close combat, quick recycling and will kill when thrown accurately
    • hand gun: you get about 6 shots but the recoil slows you down as you wait for the reload
    • shotgun: you get 2 shots but the scatter of the shot can kill multiple enemies; reload about the same as the hand gun
    • M16: you get about 3 bursts of 5 shots each so if you are clever you can shoot multiple enemies
  • Enemies will rearm themselves from dropped weapons
  • Keep changing your weapons, even if you haven’t used all the ammunition yet; dropped guns vanish after a few seconds
  • Throwing and grabbing a gun will often be faster than waiting for yours to recoil and reload – plus you get extra rounds 
  • Throwing a weapon will stop the enemy in their tracks giving you more time

SuperHot really is £9.99 of utter fun and controlled mayhem and I’m really looking forward to a sequel coming to the Switch. On other platforms there is a VR version (which must be incredible!) and there is a sequel called Superhot: Mind Control Delete which is planned to come to the Switch eventually.

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