I was supposed to start writing about SUPERHOT an hour and a half ago but I kinda just kept playing SUPERHOT. True to its narrative framework, there’s a level of control it seemed to oust from me, not content to return it until I was finished. It’s certainly not a lengthy game, and given the nature of it, that’s for the best, though part of me is… unfulfilled.
I will try to somehow fill the void by continuing to type the name that way. SUPERHOT.
When the original browser prototype was released upon the public, I was equal parts fascinated and confused, wanting to see more of the “world moves when you move” mechanic whilst also wondering why it hadn’t been done before. I’m even more surprised to see how little it’s been copied since, though there are very specific design elements in place that would be necessary to make it work, to the point that it may be impossible to emulate without making the same exact game. To be honest, I’m surprised we ever got this far, seeing way too many innovative ideas in GameJam entries that never go beyond their initial implementation. With SUPERHOT, however, I can’t help but wonder if there couldn’t have been more.
It seems to be the nature of these things and I how I choose to consume them. When a work presents something crazy, too often I want to see just how far it will go. More often than not, it’s never quite as far as I’d imagined. The introduction of a late-game mechanic gives the impression that the shooter-facade that SUPERHOT initially puts forth will ultimately break down completely, surrendering the already liberal laws of time and space to become something even more sinister – the full-fledged puzzle game that it constantly hints at wanting to be.
It never gets that far. While the meta-narrative is presented well, it’s still ultimately irrelevant to the part where you’re dodging bullets and slicing red dudes, leaving an odd disconnect there that never really resolves itself. That’s always been my biggest issue with “meta” stories as a whole, despite my love of the esoteric, though ultimately, none of that really matters. I don’t think anyone came into SUPERHOT for the gripping narrative. Even so, the best and worst thing I can say about the game is that I wish there were more of it. Yes, there are challenges and additional modes, but it still feels like a prototype of a prototype; a glimpse into a window that we’re somehow still not allowed to open.
Perhaps that was the intention all along, to get us hooked for SUPERHOT 2, whatever that may be and whatever form it may take; we can’t yet open the window because doing so would pre-maturely blow our faces off. In slow motion.