Hands on: Superhot VR on PlayStation 4

Watch all of your Matrix dreams come true in glorious PSVR

For those of you who don’t know Superhot, or missed it when it first came around, it’s a first person shooter with a fiendish gimmick – time only moves when you move.

This makes it more of a puzzle game than anything else, requiring you to plan every move, turn, gunshot, and stapler-throw to take down all of your enemies before they get you first. One hit and you’re out, so most levels break down into a trial-and-error dynamic that nails the “just one more go” feeling. When you do complete a stage the entire thing plays back in real time, and suddenly all of your Matrix daydreams come true in front of your very eyes as you flawlessly take down an entire room of goons.

Its origins read like the quintessential underdog story – initially conceived during a game jam, the concept proved popular enough that the developers took a punt on Kickstarting a full version. $250k later and the full retail version of the game was released last year to a well-deserved groundswell of critical and audience adulation.

But the story doesn’t end there – next up is a VR re-release on the PlayStation 4.

It’s a highly stylised game – all sharp contrasting blacks and whites with luminous red mannequin-like enemies – that doesn’t seem obviously suited for the VR experience. However, the style is so confidently realised, so beautifully presented, that it’s quite simply a joy to be fully immersed in the world. Any initial doubts we had about eyestrain or visual confusion were gone the minute the headset came into focus.

It’s a very cool rebuild of a very cool game and the developers deserve major kudos for adapting the concept into a VR framework where it genuinely feels like something is being added to the experience. So many VR and motion-controlled games end up feeling like a gimmick for the gimmick’s sake (hello, entire Kinect library) so it’s good to know that Superhot has managed to side-step that particular pitfall.

Another common confusion with VR is with the control scheme. For us, at least, it can be hard to overcome the disconnect between the thing in your actual hand, your digital hands you can actually see, and the button faces that you can’t. Cleverly, Superhot has stripped things all the way back – you swing the controllers to aim and punch, press one button to pick up, one to shoot, and another to throw.

You’ll be chaining together supremely badass series of attacks and dodges like Neo and James Bond’s stoically handsome lovechild in no time.

Added to the ability to duck and weave to dodge attacks, it’s a simple enough collection of abilities and requirements that, with an extended playthrough, makes it easy to see how you’ll be chaining together supremely badass series of attacks and dodges like Neo and James Bond’s stoically handsome lovechild in no time.

We only played the tutorial levels (and, ahem, not very well…) but they do a solid job of introducing you to the controls and making you feel empowered. There’s a slight issue in that, as a VR game, it was hard to keep entirely still when you wanted the game to remain frozen (stupid meat-shell!) and also, inversely, to be able to move around enough when you wanted the level to progress, given that you lack the ability to run around on the spot.

There were a few instances where I had to sort of flap my arms around like a terrifyingly huge dino-bird in order to bring the enemies within punching range. Granted, that was enjoyable in its own right, but it kind of kills the whole untouchable-superspy thing. Having said that, it’s monstrously cool to be able to punch one guy’s head into literal polygons, steal his gun, duck down and watch as a bullet goes arcing overhead in a sinister red line from another enemy, before leaping to your feet and lining up a perfect shot to take them down, and then finishing off the level by grabbing a glass bottle and executing a killer throw.

It’s probably not overstating things to say that if you have PSVR and the space to bounce around (which you really should if you have a VR system, friends – safety first!) then Superhot needs to be on your to-play list.

Superhot VR is £19.99 and available now.

Zack Fox, Chief Screen-Watcher
About Zack Fox, Chief Screen-Watcher 20 Articles
Chief Screen-Watcher Zack writes about gaming, TV and movies. He also runs Gadgette's commercial side, and works part-time at a film production company. Follow him on Twitter: @ZackFoxFilm