From our partners over at The Cube.


The first-person shooter genre is one that I am both familiar and distant toward. My first …. first… person shooter was a game called Doom. I liked it, but it gave me an unnerving sense of almost nausea as I played, with the point of view and horizon line essentially swinging as fast as you can pull your mouse. Even though I did some sailing as a kid, I could not find a way to keep my eyes to the level and often after playing I would feel sick. Despite this, games such as Castle Wolfenstein and Doom were fun to play — great to take out your aggression, and in general, a good way to burn a few hours and kill some bad guys.

Superhot extends the first person shooter genre to a new place. The rapid change of perspective common to first-person shooters is gone, but the nearly impossible accomplishments one must make in order to progress in the game are instead locked in a strange continuum — time moves only when you move.

This single change turns a violent game into a strange form of strategy experience. Suppose you had reflexes that were fast enough to catch a gun in midair, and that you could dodge bullets. Now suppose everything you saw was in slow motion, and as the bullet comes toward you, you can duck — but you see another assailant running towards you at your point of escape. Do you evade the first assailant, and try to hammer your second, or do you rush the first and hope the second doesn’t have a gun trained on you?

Superhot transforms the first person experience into a strange, timeless choreographically experienced sequence of attacks and defenses that are built up by your ability to enter a split second of time, and then dissect the best possible action path and pursue it. The allure of such a game is to offer real moments where one can reflect quietly, as if in the eye of the hurricane — and plan out what would be experienced in real life as a whirlwind of lightning fast moves and responses to an incredibly dangerous attack.

The game starts out retro, with text interface — a fellow hacker is offering you access to a security system. It quickly evolves into a fight for your own life, with the ever present ‘r’ for rapid restart becoming your friend. With each attempt, you learn the basic interface and moves. Soon you’re navigating a strange world and you are able to handle increasing threat and danger.

For me, this distils the entire essence of the first-person shooter into a very enjoyable and useful experience. Sure, you might not want to believe you’re going to get gunned down as you walk up the stairs to your comfortable suburban home. You’re probably certain that as you make your way across the living room you are not going to get attacked by Russian agents bent on throwing a bullet into the back of your skull. The very nature of what one accomplishes in the gaming experience changes radically with the single, simple change that Superhot represents — yielding the catlike reflexes of a strong agent against impossible situations.

Endless FPS pyrotechnic would not have allowed the insight you would gain by having played Superhot. It is a game that stands by itself, expanding its genre and providing a moment of real reflection as we notice the myriad different possibilities that open by what would appear to be a very minor change. Time moves when you move.

When the bullet is headed for your head. Move. But remember. As you move, the bullet flies further toward you. You will not survive unless you can think your way through the danger.


From our partners over at The Cube.