SUPERHOT VR Review -- Live. Die. Repeat.
SUPERHOT VR is one of PlayStation VR's best titles within its first year of release despite suffering from consistent tracking issues.
Review copy provided by the publisher
SUPERHOT VR is a strange case of being one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had on PlayStation VR while also showing me the glaring problems that the peripheral has more than ever before. At its best, SUPERHOT VR will introduce you to a gameplay experience unlike any other and will keep you coming back time and time again. At its worst though, it will leave you frustrated with the constant calibrations you’ll need to perform and annoyed with PSVR’s tracking functionality.
If you aren’t familiar with SUPERHOT VR, it is the virtual reality recreation of last year’s release, SUPERHOT. Unlike many other VR games however, SUPERHOT VR wasn’t a simple copy and paste job of the original game into the VR space. Instead, SUPERHOT VR was built from the ground up to offer it’s own unique experience while retaining the same core elements that made SUPERHOT so great to begin with.
At its best, SUPERHOT VR will introduce you to a gameplay experience unlike any other and will keep you coming back time and time again.
SUPERHOT VR takes you through a variety of different levels where time only moves as you move. In the original game, time would only move as you moved your left or right thumbsticks whereas in SUPERHOT VR, the time progresses as you move your “hands” — a.k.a. your PlayStation Move controllers. In each level, you will be tasked with taking down a variety of bright orange enemies that are trying to punch, shoot, or stab you. To counter, you must use the weapons that lie around you in each area to dispose of these enemies to advance through each level and achieve victory.
The concept for the game is relatively straightforward but also makes for one of my favorite experiences in VR so far. The feel of dodging bullets in slow motion is something straight out of The Matrix. During the game’s best moments, I truly felt like I was channeling my inner Keanu Reeves, weaving in and out of enemy fire and avoiding close-quarter attacks while firing off shots of my own to blow my enemies to a million pieces. More than anything else, SUPERHOT VR makes you feel like a legitimate action movie hero.
These moments of feeling awesome however take some time to build up to as it typically took me a couple run-throughs to learn each level’s structure and decide how I needed to approach it. You’ll die quite a bit in SUPERHOT VR, but most of the time it won’t lead to much frustration. This trial and error is needed and is what leads to you eventually pulling off moves that you wouldn’t have thought were possible minutes before. Not to mention, respawn times are relatively quick so even when you do die you don’t stay down for long.
By far one of my favorite aspects of SUPERHOT VR was just how much it prompted me to move. To date, I have never physically moved my body more in any other PSVR game. Every time I played SUPERHOT VR, my sessions would end with me covered in sweat like as if I had gone for a jog outside rather than played a video game. This continued movement led to the game feeling more immersive than anything else I have played in VR. Unfortunately, this movement is also what leads to SUPERHOT VR’s biggest downfall on PSVR.
The biggest issue that I had while playing the game on PSVR was that while moving around my living room, my PlayStation Camera would lose track of where I was at. Often times when this would happen, my hands would begin to float far away from me, or I would spawn a few feet further away from where I needed to be in the level. This would then lead to me having to constantly recalibrate my game, often times in the middle of a level, and often times leading to my death. The later portions of SUPERHOT VR are hard enough in their own right without also having to fight against issues like this.
What sucks is that this was a somewhat constant problem that I had during my time with the game. If I could get through two or three levels without having to recalibrate myself, then I was happy. This problem also made me fear moving too much or risk having the PS Camera lose track of me. In a game like SUPERHOT VR, you need to feel free to have full range of movement rather than trying to keep your steps limited to a confined space. As immersive that the world of SUPERHOT VR is, this whole debacle was consistently pulling me right out of the game.
I feel that it is important for me however to note that this constant problem wasn’t a fault of SUPERHOT VR’s, but instead the tracking capabilities of PSVR. Playing through SUPERHOT VR showed me that the PS Camera isn’t a viable piece of technology that should be used to track drastic movement that might take place when using the headset. It works quite capably when the game you are playing has you sitting or standing in one area with limited movement, but in a game like SUPERHOT VR, it interrupted my experience more times than I would have liked. Knowing how Oculus and Vive function when it comes to tracking movement, I would be inclined to believe that SUPERHOT VR would be better off played on either of those headsets instead of on PSVR.
As for the game’s story, it essentially was nonexistent in SUPERHOT VR. While the original game does have certain story based elements to it, the VR version instead was much more arcadey. If you’re looking for some structure of narrative, then you’re probably better suited to check out the original SUPERHOT instead as SUPERHOT VR was more focused on getting you right into the action than delivering you any sort of story.
After finishing the two to four hour story mode, you will unlock a variety of extra levels and trials that continue to give you new ways to play. These bonus challenges have kept me coming back over and over in the pursuit of continuing to try and master SUPERHOT VR. There’s a sizable amount of content to the game that I honestly didn’t expect. I can see myself continuing to come back to SUPERHOT VR months from now.
Despite the issues that I have with the tracking in the game, I still think that SUPERHOT VR is a game that all first year adopters of PSVR need to check out. Not only is it one of the most unique experiences I have had in gaming this year, it might be one of the most unique I have had in my entire life. While I think the game is probably much better suited on either of the other virtual reality headsets on the market, playing SUPERHOT VR on PSVR will still give you hours of enjoyment even if you do have to calibrate your device more than you’d like.
DualShockers reviewed the original, non-VR SUPERHOT on PS4 earlier today — check out that full review here.