Getting Superhot in VR
After six months of Oculus Store exclusivity, Superhot VR is now available from Steam for the HTC Vive, as well as on PlayStation VR. FutureFive’s Darren Price got to kick some butt with the PC version of the VR actioner on the HTC Vive.
I’ve been playing the non-VR version of Superhot for a while. It’s a great premise. Set in some weird cyberspace/hackers’ reality, players must defend themselves against low-polygon figures moving through textureless white environments.
The figures, coloured red and orange, like heatmaps, are, for the most part, armed, and most definitely dangerous. Anything black, on the other, hand can be picked up and thrown. In the case of guns, they can be fired back as well.
I’d best describe it as an action hero simulator, with the world rendered to emulate the lizard brain: red= danger, black= useful and white= everything else. The major game mechanic is that nothing moves unless you do. This gives you the edge over your opponents and instant action movie hero prowess.
All this is amazing in the non-VR game. But it is mind-blowing in VR.
Superhot VR capitalises on the virtual reality platform by integrating it into the game. Whilst the non-VR version has a dos-like menu interface, the VR version has you standing in a room full of old knocked together computers, prompting you to insert an old 3.5-inch disc into a drive. You then pull down a VR-like headpiece from the ceiling and enter the game.
Dropping you right into the action, Superhot VR has you ducking, reaching, throwing, punching and shooting your way through a series of level made up from similarly-themed scenarios.
You can grab the gun of the assailant in front of you and shoot him in the knees. You can follow-up by a shot at his Uzi-wielding mate coming from the left- who throws his gun into the air, ready for you to catch. You can them unleash a rain of bullets from the Uzi. You can step back to avoid the path of a shotgun blast, taking out the bullets’ owner with a handily placed shuriken.
Standing there, watching a bullet pass by, millimetres from your head, in slow motion, is incredible. This is what VR is all about.
It’s easy to let your power over time make you complacent. If you get clipped by a bullet or a fist and it’s back to the beginning of the sequence. Whilst you do find yourself doing the same levels again and a again due to the game’s sometime punishing difficulty, all it does is serve you up another opportunity to give it a go again. The levels tend to be the same amount of fun the first time as the thirtieth time.
Each level has a theme, like a mid-air hijack than starts in the hold, working though the plane, taking out the bad guys, all the way to the cockpit. Another starts with you grabbing a stiletto in front of you, revealing that you are standing on a pole-dancing stage in a club, surrounded by assailants taking turns to fire at you. Interestingly, you sometimes have to opportunity to dispatch the bad guys using a strange vibrating ability.
The first time I tried the pole-dancing stage scenario, I just stood there ducking and weaving through the hail of bullets. The following scene had me behind the gunmen who were firing at the stage, where I was able to punch one and shoot the other three. Another time, on the stage, I dispatched the gunman to the left by vibrating him, grabbed his pistol as he fell and took out the remaining three. The next scene had me standing behind four dead gunmen, having previously taken everybody out.
Even though you don’t have the freedom of movement beyond the room-space of your VR area, you have a remarkable amount of destructive options open to you. Some of the creative ways that you can take out opponents, with swords, throwing stars, bottles and pool balls, are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
All this grabbing, ducking and throwing also gives you a mild workout, blurring the line between video games and exercise. You’d be surprise just how active you are whilst playing and you need to be mindful of your play space. You need to take care not to cause yourself, somebody or something an injury as you swing your arms about.
The game’s simple, but very effective, visuals really suit virtual reality. Not only is the uncluttered design very intuitive, the graphical overheads are minimised. This is perfect for VR, which is notoriously GPU-intensive. Owners of moderately spec’d VR rigs and PSVR players will have no issues running Superhot VR.
Superhot VR is a standout title exemplifying the incredible sense of presence that you can experience in virtual reality. Instead of playing as an action hero, you become an action hero, and it’s amazing. If you own an HTC Vive, PSVR or Oculus Rift this game should be in your library.