As a kid who grew up in the 90’s, The Matrix trilogy was a big deal for me. I still love those movies, but we all remember the moment when everything clicked for Neo in that first movie. “There is no spoon,” he whispers. From that moment on, it’s non-stop awesomeness. I had a similar feeling when I first booted up SUPERHOT VR on PlayStation VR.
Coming fresh from my playthrough of SUPERHOT, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the VR version. As it turns out, this is a completely different game that uses the same basic concept as its sibling. Is this version the ultimate form of that unique concept where time only moves when you do, or is SUPERHOT VR ahead of its time? Let’s find out!
Obey, and Prove Your Worth
The story in SUPERHOT VR is set in the same universe as the standard game, but other than that, it’s completely different. Everything from the main character, to the hub between levels, to the overall feel of the story has shifted.
This solidifies the VR version as a totally separate game, so for anyone worried that SUPERHOT VR is just a modified version of the original, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Since the story here is minimalistic like it’s brother, I don’t want to go into too much detail. That being said, the framing is very cool for VR players, and some of the things it asks you to do are far more intense as a result of VR.
While the standard game’s story felt like someone who was at the wrong place at the right time, SUPERHOT VR has a more deliberate approach. You get the feeling that you want to be there, and it makes for a totally different narrative experience.
While not as in-depth as the first game’s story, SUPERHOT VR still paints an interesting backdrop for its world that is steeped in mystery. It’s the gameplay that will keep you coming back for more, the framing narrative is certainly appreciated as well.
Total Immersion, Tense Gameplay, and Unforgiving Difficulty
SUPERHOT VR was the first time since I first bought PlayStation VR that I put on the headset and audibly said “WOW!” out loud. There are only a handful of VR games that truly blew me away when I first experienced them, and SUPERHOT VR is most certainly one of them.
I spent some times setting up my play area perfectly. I placed my PlayStation Camera on top of the TV, pushed back the couch to clear out a bunch of space, and closed the windows to avoid any excess light. With PlayStation Move controllers in hand, I stood in the center of my room and immersed myself into the world of SUPERHOT VR.
Just like the standard game, time only moves when you do. The game places you in stationary areas where you can step around in your immediate area, but are ultimately rooted in place so you don’t go crashing into your TV.
That doesn’t mean you can’t move, though. Any movement of your hands, head, or body will cause time to move forward. Unlike the standard game, SUPERHOT VR allows you to duck, dodge, and weave around bullets to keep yourself alive for just a little longer.
Describing the feel of playing this game in VR is incredibly difficult. The immersion is complete and unrelenting. I started one level standing in a helicopter with an enemy in front of me. I punched him in the head and he fell backward from the open doorway towards the ground below.
As you finish sections of the levels, you touch a black triangle to move to the next scenario. In the example I just used, the second scenario had me standing on the ground looking up at the helicopter. The enemy I killed was suspended in mid-air, his head shattered into tiny pieces as he fell.
Two more enemies were approaching. I bent down and grabbed two pistols from a nearby crate. With ease, I fired off bullets in both directions. I saw another enemy spawn in the helicopter above and turned both my guns toward him. I fired off several shots.
The incoming bullets weren’t a problem in VR. I reached up with one of my guns and blocked an incoming bullet as I stepped back and watched the other pass right across my face.
When it’s all moving smoothly, SUPERHOT VR is the most fun I’ve had inside of my PlayStation VR headset. The incredibly smooth gameplay and intense scenarios are absolutely addicting.
It’s a little annoying that death resets you all the way to the beginning of a level, despite passing through multiple scenarios, but SUPERHOT has always been a punishingly difficult experience.
Even with my high camera set up, I did have some situations where tracking just wasn’t cooperating. I also tried a lower setup with the camera tilted upward, which seemed to provide even better results. You’ll need to experiment with your setup to find the most accurate camera placement, but once you have it, the game is magical.
These moments of bad tracking were only a fraction of the time I was playing, but they did hamper the experience for those brief moments. It was usually situations where I needed to reach down and grab something, and the camera lost track during this process.
Another qualm I have with the game is the throwing. The concept is that you should hold the Move button and release to throw. Sometimes my tosses would be fine, but other times, the objects would fly up or off into a completely different direction.
Whether this was a result of the tracking, or a flaw on my part, the throwing never really clicked for me. In situations like this, I usually got it to work, but it’s one aspect of the experience that I feel could have been improved. Even something simple like a reticule to aim with would have been perfect. The throwing motion just isn’t accurate enough for those long-range shots you need to take in certain levels.
Despite these small qualms, the overall experience with SUPERHOT VR is nothing short of incredible. It’s a transcendent VR experience that drags you, kicking and screaming, into its world. Combine this with story moments where you have to perform some pretty shocking actions, and you have a game that leverages the power of VR in a way that very few developers have accomplished.
The World of SUPERHOT VR All Around You
On PS4 Pro, the graphics look pretty darn good in VR. Distant objects and enemies have some aliasing, and the environments could use a bit more clarity to really pop the way they do in the standard version of the game, but enemies have a bright and vivid clarity that I really enjoyed.
The frame rate is insanely smooth, so motion sickness was never an issue for me. The stationary design also ensures that you can move around a bit, but not enough to risk any electronics in your living room.
SUPERHOT VR shares the same style of aesthetics as its standard counterpart. The levels here are completely different, but they all have the same white colorization with black weapons and bright red enemies. The progression of time as you move and attack is done with in a way that never feels clunky or staggered.
While I highly recommend you play both versions, there’s no doubt in my mind that SUPERHOT VR is the definitive version of this innovative shooter. Take caution, though, because once you’re in, you may never want to leave.
Final Score: 9.5/10
A copy of SUPERHOT VR was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 7/31/17