An eager hacker, a DOS interface and hundreds of hostile red guys. SUPERHOT‘s Switch announcement came as a big surprise to anyone who watched August’s Nintendo Direct, and it might just be one of the platform’s hottest releases of the season.
You are a hacker who receives a leaked copy of superhot.exe, a ‘game within a game’ where you have to take down waves of enemies in a series of unconnected levels. The catch? Time only moves when you do, meaning other characters will remain frozen while you stand still and can only move in tandem with you. The point of SUPERHOT is to utilise whatever is available to you. Disarm enemies by throwing nearby objects at them. Use their own firearms or melee weapons against them, all while dodging every single bullet that heads your way.
The system itself, which talks to you periodically throughout the story and warns you against becoming addicted to the game, bears sinister allusions to HAL9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey—a menacing, self-aware AI that uses the player for its own malicious plans—and the story of SUPERHOT progresses as you become ensnared by it.
These stages use a brutalist design, with many rooms encompassing a blocky, monolithic appearance. Everything is white but the enemies, which have a bright red aesthetic to set them apart from their surroundings. The levels get complicated as the game progresses, and unlocking the mystery of superhot.exe causes the opposition to become more powerful. Moving slowly is crucial to dodging and deflecting every incoming attack as it gives you time to think about your next move. Clearing a stage rewards you with a replay of the session at regular speed, amplifying the action and making it feel like a ‘badass simulator’ as you watch yourself cut through each enemy wave with ease.
The story itself takes around two hours to beat, but there are also challenge modes to tackle once you’ve finished. These are bonus stages that might restrict you to a certain weapon or have you complete a course within a time limit. For further replayability, there’s also an Endless mode that lets you fight as many enemies as you can in a randomly generated order. I’d say these modes give the game an extra breath of life that would otherwise be absent, as replaying the story can become stale rather quickly.
Despite releasing three years later, SUPERHOT on Nintendo Switch is a competent mirror to its counterparts on other systems. The framerate isn’t always perfectly smooth, but the simple aesthetics and slow-paced gameplay lend itself well to a portable screen. Aiming with Joy-Con can feel uneven—as with many shooters on the platform—so the developer also added gyro support to allow for extra precision when aiming. It works fine as an aide to the more finicky aspects of the controls.
As a short but sweet experience with a groundbreaking concept, SUPERHOT quickly became one of the more innovative shooters of the last few years. With each level acting as a bite-sized action setpiece, it’s a welcome addition to the Switch’s ever-growing library of indie titles that allow you to pick up and play whenever you have ten minutes to kill. While the game’s roguelite sequel is still in Early Access on PC, it would be exciting to see a fanbase for this series grow on the Switch.
Tested on Switch
Also available on PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer Superhot Team
Publisher Superhot Team
Disclosure a copy of SUPERHOT was supplied by Evolve PR