Superhot VR will be ready for the launch of the Touch controllers on Dec. 6, and it already feels like one of the best games on the platform. That sort of quality didn’t come easily.
“It’s been redone from scratch, actually,” Superhot Team’s Tomasz Kaczmarczyk told Polygon. Everything happens in slow motion, and time speeds up when you move, just like the original game, but in Superhot VR you can only take maybe a step in any direction during each scene. Time moves slowly until you speed up, and it’s your job to punch the enemies, shoot them with the weapons you find around the environment and dodge their counter-attacks.
It feels amazing, and the nature of the action allows you to recreate some pretty intense action scenes. You can punch someone in the throat, grab their gun out of the air and then put a bullet in the enemy behind you. You can pick up objects from around the environment and throw them at the enemies to destroy them.
Each short scene — and some only take seconds to play — requires you to size up the situation and respond nearly instantly. Sometimes you’re warped to a situation in which multiple characters have their guns pointed directly at your head, but of course they can’t fire until you move. So you’re forced to John Wick your way out of the situation.
Kaczmarczyk also explained that as you jump from scene to scene, you’re moving around the same physical area. You can actually throw yourself a gun if you aim at where you know you’re going, which is a great way to build up impressive runs of each series of vignettes. This is a game that rewards creativity in your violence, and it feels a bit like you’re manipulating both time and space once you get the hang of higher-level strategies.
And those sorts of tricks didn’t come easily, Kaczmarczyk said that they were able to use very little from the game’s initial release.
“We hope that we’re going to get to reuse some of the levels from the original version, but when we got down to it we found out that when you’re designing geometry for first-person shooters on regular screens, it’s always different,” he explained. “It’s always kind of off-scale, you need to have wider corridors or wider doors or otherwise it feels claustrophobic. When you use those levels in VR, everything seems so large.”
Instead of trying to rescale all that work, they “simply” created the levels from scratch.
There’s also some challenge in creating your character’s hit box, or the area that a bullet has to hit for you to be killed in-game. The Touch system is only tracking your hands and your head, so they have to fudge things a little.
“The hit box right now is kind of your torso, basically,” Kaczmarczyk said. “But since we’re not tracking your torso, it’s sometimes a little bit weird. We see people doing this weird motion with their legs when they’re trying to dodge bullets. It doesn’t do anything! But it’s still fun for them.” This aspect of the game is still being tweaked and, like he said, it’s hard to stop yourself from bending your knees to avoid shotgun fire.
I played Superhot VR and did OK, and then I went back and played again. And again. It’s a game that rewards multiple attempts at each situation, and learning where you’ll be in a few seconds. This doesn’t feel like a port of Superhot, it’s something better: A whole new experience in VR.