SuperHot: What’s black, white and red all over?

Imagine strapping a GoPro to your head and running through Mirror’s Edge, except with a katana and a laser rifle. And everyone’s trying to kill you. And you can control time. That’s the basic premise of Superhot a game that’s had a development journey more interesting than many of the triple-A games we’ve covered in the past.

Originally, the game was designed with three levels in a prototype phase called ‘The Challenge’ and focused on you running through a series of obstacles, and required to shoot various on-screen targets and enemies. The catch, though, was that time only moved when you did; take two steps forward, and time will progress two seconds. Think of it like Braid, but with a first-person view. Remember how tricky some of the puzzles in Jonathan Blow’s 2D puzzler were? Well, Superhot is like that but with bullets instead of weird little heads.

You play as an unnamed agent, whose motives remain unclear. We don’t know how or why he can control time, either we just know that he can. Let’s be honest though a game with a mechanic this exploratory doesn’t need to fall back too heavily on narrative; we’re expecting a dialogue-lite campaign that culminates in some hardcore brain-teasery. Anything more would just seem bloated.

This mechanic allows you to go all Matrix and slow down time on a whim, judging the trajectory of incoming bullets and altering your movements to correct to their course. If you don’t… well, it’s game over Superhot isn’t a forgiving game; one bullet means death. Saying that, you can use your sword to slice incoming bullets in half, but that takes some serious skill. The satisfaction when you finally get one is palpable, though.
“Gears Of War helmsman Cliff Bleszinski pledged enough money on Kickstarter to co-design a level”
We mentioned Braid for a reason above you’d think this was a game about twitch reflexes and blazing guns, but it’s not. It’s far more centred around solving puzzles and considering your movements within a 3D field. It’s a fiendish game on the PC, and that’s only in it’s prototype phase.

The full release that’s coming to Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program is likely to see some further tweaks and refinements we’re expecting new puzzles (sorry, we mean levels), refined pad support, and various new modes and features. Gears Of War helmsman Cliff Bleszinski pledged enough money on Kickstarter to win the position of co-designing a level, too, so the Xbox veteran will be making a (spiritual) return to the console when Superhot ships.

It’s this kind of game that helps bolster the Xbox One’s admittedly lacking stable of indie exclusives. The new ID@Xbox push (featuring Space Engineers, Smite and Goat Simulator) promises to reshape the indie side of the console war’s battlefield. It’s going to be a tight year for indie games on console.

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