Sawbuck Gamer

Super Hot

Killing Time

Time stands still when you do in the ultra-violent Super Hot.

By Matt Kodner • September 18, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

One of the most impressive parts of the super-gorey Hotline Miami is how quickly it gets you inside the head of a mindless killer. The game builds a psychotic groove from the routine of haphazardly shooting thugs, getting blown away by thugs, and starting back up again—all in a matter of seconds. The bloody violence is right there on display, but after an initial wave of repulsion fades, the killing doesn’t feel like killing anymore. It’s just something that you’re doing.

Super Hot, born from a seven day first-person shooter-focused game jam, relishes in that idea of hiding violence in plain sight. It begins with monolithic onscreen text that directs you to kill everyone in the room. Shooting cyber people from a first-person perspective isn’t exactly a new idea, but Super Hot puts a twist on the genre by having time flow only when you move. If you fire a bullet and freeze in place, your projectile hangs in the air. The same goes for those of your enemiess, whose gunfire produces a deadly, airborn maze when frozen.

Knee-jerk reflexes and killer instincts are on a leave of absence as spatial awareness becomes the defining skill for clearing a room. Like Hotline, it only takes one hit to go down, so the only way to clear the levels here is to take stock of your surroundings and plan five moves ahead. Super Hot also poses a few clumsy Big Questions that remind the player of what they’ve been doing. It may seem like a puzzle, but that’s just a clever mask for its violence, and it doesn’t want you to forget that.

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15 Responses to “Killing Time”

  1. NakedSnake says:

    Awesome. Sounds like a high concept version of Qix or Snake.

  2. JohnnyLongtorso says:

    That was pretty entertaining, aside from the third-rate knockoff of Bioshock twist at the end.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      “Would you kindly…move so my bullet kills you?”

    • ItsTheShadsy says:

      I feel like that variety of twist – the kind that suggests that your actions were motivated by something else sinister – is an easy way for developers to write off the violence and horrors portrayed in their games. Like (OLD SPOILERS) the ending of Crackdown, which gives you some distance to the fact that you just killed thousands of people.

      It’s appreciable that developers are now realizing that they need to address the intensity of the violence in their games, but recent attempts to contextualize it feel like post-hoc excuses. It’s like when filmmakers aped Tarantino to make their dark and violent movies seem more artistically acceptable. It’s a mode that’s grafted onto the final product to gloss over deeper issues with style.

      I haven’t played Super Hot, so I don’t know exactly how it ends. (I could be extrapolating everything wrong from your one sentence.) But it seems that its fetishization of violence is the entire point of the game. I would much rather see it take the Hotline Miami route and fully embrace the chaos and depravity of its violence.

      • SamPlays says:

        It’s also like when Tarantino aped French, Italian, Swedish and Hong Kong filmmakers to make his dark and violent movies seem more artistically acceptable.

        For the record, I love Tarantino and everyone else he’s aped.

    • Matt Kodner says:

      I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to it, but I think it functioned alright for what they were going for. 

  3. Marozeph says:

    7DFPS, Ludum Dare – is it currenty the season for quick-programming-contests?

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      It’s seeming like there’s a high profile game jam nearly every month at this point, which is a great thing. 

      • SamPlays says:

        And a lot of them seem to be Canadian according to page one of my half-assed Google search. Maybe our commitment to innovative gaming can balance out our government’s commitment to a strike on Syria.

  4. Brit_in_BRD says:

    Huh. It says to click to take down enemies, but it doesn’t seem to work on my Mac. And googling ‘superhot instructions’ isn’t a good idea…

  5. zhirzzh says:

    I expected it to be more of a puzzle game. I was able to beat it while moving basically the entire game. I am interested in seeing more levels though. If it was a lot harder it could be good.


  7. yomom says:

    this game sucks dick for a living