Superhot on the Oculus Rift made me feel like Neo from The Matrix
Time-shifting indie shooter Superhot is one of the most interesting games to emerge from a game jam. The pitch is simple: when you’re moving, so is time. Bullets hang in the air when you aren’t walking, and moving more slowly gives you time to dodge, aim, and evaluate. It’s a fascinating twist on time and space in an FPS.
While visiting Oculus VR at E3 earlier this week I had a chance to play Superhot on the Rift Dev Kit 2 along with Alien: Isolation and an indie 3D platformer, Lucky’s Tale. The Superhot demo was dead-simple on the surface: three enemies with pistols stood at the end of a white hall. I had to make my way forward while dodging their bullets, pick up a pistol on the floor in the middle of the corridor, then fire back—all without being hit.
It’s surprisingly difficult. Despite their red tracer tails, you often can’t see the bullets clearly until they’re very close, and the AI enemies do a pretty good job of boxing you in with their shots. The Oculus version of Superhot, though, allows you to dodge laterally by leaning—a feature exclusive to the VR version of the game.
Even with an Xbox controller as the input method, this felt like the optimal way to play Superhot simply because it let me live out my 1999 fantasy of leaning around bullets like Neo or Morpheus from The Matrix. It made Superhot feel less like a FPS puzzle game and more like a superhero sim. Leaning doesn’t push time forward, so you're free to pause and scrutinize your imminent doom at any moment. At the end, I’d made it to the pistol on my third attempt, then I curved my spine to shift out of the way of a bullet that was sitting right at my cheek, snapping the trigger on the pistol to let off a round and reaccelerate time forward.
I felt stupendously, unbelievably cool, even in this tiny, simple corridor. Then I played the hardcore version of the same level (where the enemies had shotguns) and died miserably over and over. I'd better start doing some yoga to get ready for Superhot on the Rift. The indie FPS is in the final hours of its Kickstarter campaign.