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Superhot is a whirling ballet of bullets

A lot of people are looking forward to Superhot, which is due to launch later this year, not least the 12,000 Kickstarter backers who funded this curiously appealing game to the tune of $250K.

Originally planned for Windows PC, Mac and Linux, the time-stop shooter will also simultaneously launch on Xbox One: this version is playable at E3 via the Microsoft booth.

The game is a minimalist shooter that offers 40 short and elegant action sequences, during which AI assailants attack the player with firearms.

Always in first-person, the player is armed, and not just with a gun. The central twist in Superhot is that the player stops time by ceasing to move. During this standing-still time, it is possible to aim weapons. With an Xbox One controller, aiming can take some getting used to, as a certain amount of precision is necessary.

Players can also assault enemies physically, and grab weapons in mid-air. The combination of these movements makes up the game's rhythm and beat.


According to designer Piotr Iwanicki, Superhot is more than just a shooter with a twist. "The key to making interesting things is to not think 'I am making a video game or a shooter', but that I am creating a piece of design that hasn't been done yet," he told Polygon.

He added that changing one part of the game's design has made a big difference. "When you collect weapons, you don't walk over them," he said. "You aim at them and click instead. It seems a tiny thing, but it makes a big difference to the way the game plays. Now the game is also about grabbing weapons in the air, which is different and new."

It's tempting to view Superhot as a series of puzzles to be solved, but it's clear from playing the game that it s really an action game, in which players must time their movements, make smart decisions and, above all, hit their target. Death restarts each level, though they are so short and sharp, this hardly feels like a chore.


"I don't think of this as a time manipulation puzzle," said Iwanicki. "It's an action game that waits for you, that allows you to move at your own pace. It's a ballet of moving, shooting, grabbing weapons, dying and starting again. It can be a very fast game, if you want it to be, or you can move through it as you like."

Superhot has a distinctive visual style. It is an entirely white world, with objects picked out in black, and figures in red. Part of this has come from the necessity of making a game using limited resources, but the result is pleasing.

"As a small team we have to pick our own battles and find a way to solve problems that get in the way of the bigger things we want to do," said Iwanicki. "The best way to avoid an obstacle is just to jump over it. In the prototype that was the idea of the simplistic look, and now we have built on that."

The next level of puzzles.

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