SuperhotVR has long been a staple of VR headsets. With it now on to the Oculus Quest, does it still carry the heavyweight title of an essential game, or is the glass empire waiting to crumble?
Ordinarily, I’d start with an anecdote, but SUPERHOT VR stories are a dime a dozen – for good reason, too. SUPERHOT VR has quickly become one of the staples of virtual reality, with it regularly showing in SteamVR’s ‘most played singleplayer titles’ leaderboard. Not only that, but the unique gameplay is rife with jaw-dropping moments that you can’t wait to share.
The general premise is an inception-like series of levels for you to infiltrate and clear enemies from. You enter floppy disks into a dusty old computer setup, and don a VR headset to “load” into the levels. There are some sinister twists, though it’s extremely light on traditional storytelling. Nonetheless, SUPERHOT VR atones for what it lacks in narrative with one-of-a-kind gameplay.
The concept of “time moves when you move” is an incredibly engaging take on slow-motion combat… for the most part. Slowly turning your head to watch a bullet narrowly miss you immediately gives you Matrix vibes, but it can feel out of place. There are times when an enemy is too far away and your only real option is to swing your arms around wildly to advance time.
Throwing can also be tricky to get to grips with, but it’s rare to see any VR title truly nail this. You can forgive the occasional wayward throw for the stellar gunplay, which SUPERHOT VR regularly shoots your way. After a few attempts, the levels begin to feel strikingly reminiscent of the Gun Kata in 2002’s Equilibrium, with combat akin to an effortless dance as you dispatch enemies without looking and weave around the incoming fire.
The aesthetics are very minimal, but that’s not to say they aren’t lovely. White and grey dominate the background, contrasted only by the stark crimson of the enemies and the deep blacks and blues of your weapons. Everything from the people, to the weapons, to the environmental knickknacks you can pick up and throw appear to be made of a fragile glass-like substance – and they shatter just like it, too. The developers have described it as a “brutal world of concrete and glass”, and they’ve done a wonderful job of bringing that description to life inside SUPERHOT VR.
There’s definitely a downgrade from the PCVR versions of SUPERHOT VR, noticeably in the lighting effects and texture quality, but this is offset by the tetherless experience. Being able to dodge and move freely might make this the perfect version, provided you have the available play space.
There were a couple of performance issues that I experienced with SUPERHOT VR on the Oculus Quest; once, the game closed entirely and I was sent back to the Oculus home without any warning, while another bug left my screen completely white after a death, though I could still hear sound effects of the game continuing without me. These were only minor issues and the rest of the game was flawless, but it’s likely symptomatic of an imperfect Quest port – they have crammed all the previous SUPERHOT VR functionality into this more mobile version of the game, after all.
The primary campaign mode only lasts around two hours, though there’s a plethora of modes to try once you’re done with it. You can take on ‘Hardcore’, ‘Headshots Only’, or ‘Don’t Die’ modes that add new twists to make the base game tougher, or take on one of five endless maps that keep the enemies coming… well, endlessly.
This was the only mode that I felt an affinity for, but its no less punishing than the others. There are also speedrun modes if you’re keen on beating your best times, and an achievement system that I knew nothing about until a post-it note floated past my face during a firefight.
There’s still an elephant in the room that might keep this on people’s wishlists and out of their baskets, however: the pricing. The Quest version of SUPERHOT VR is still almost £20, which is steep enough on its own for a game that you could complete in a single play session. On top of this, it isn’t even a “cross-buy” title, meaning you’ll need to buy it again if you already own it on the Oculus store or want to play it on your Rift or Rift S.
Considering they’ve offered discounts in the past for people who owned the desktop version of SUPERHOT, it would have been nice to see a reduced price for the Quest. If the Oculus Quest is the only headset you own and you’ve yet to try SUPERHOT VR before, though, then this should absolutely still be on your radar.
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