For some sci-fi fans, today's virtual reality is The Matrix coming to fruition in the real world. But we haven't seen many VR games that try to actually put you in the shoes of Keanu Reeves' Neo from the 1999 classic. Oculus Rift game Superhot, while unaffiliated with the movie franchise, does just that.
In today's CGI-laden Hollywood, we've seen no shortage of sci-fi/fantasy characters with superhuman reflexes, be it Jason Bourne, Batman or any of 793 Marvel superheroes.
But if you really could block five punches and dodge seven bullets in the span of two seconds, what would that subjective experience be like? It would probably be something like Superhot's core premise: Time only moves when you move, giving you a chance to take stock of your attackers and time/place your defenses and counterattacks for maximum impact.
Using the Oculus Touch controllers with Rift headset, Superhot drops you into a series of micro-fights. Enter a still scene with one or more polygonal attackers frozen in action. This is the time to use your eyes (not much head movement or time will inch forward!) to scan your surroundings, including the number of enemies, which pose the greatest threats and whether there are any weapons nearby.
As soon as you make a decisive move like reaching for a gun, the scene picks up in speed. If you need more time to plot your attack or choreograph your defenses, you'd better reach slowly.
Superhot is you starring in your own slow-motion action scenes.
It's surprising that Superhot was originally a mouse-based PC shooter, as the game feels like it was built for virtual reality. Use your own hands to fire duel weapons, your own body to bend and weave to dodge bullets (positively Neo-esque): This is the ideal full-body, VR arcade game.
There's an old-school level of difficulty, as each checkpoint requires you to go through several micro-fights. As you progress, you're likely to get stumped on a few, which will often mean going back and repeating the scenes leading up to the troublesome one.
This accentuates the variety of approaches to each micro-game: Maybe the first time you threw a knife at the dude on the left, then smashed a bottle over the head of the guy on the right. The second time you might disarm the first, firing his weapon at the second. The third time, maybe you'll just decapitate them both with a nearby axe.
The graphics are simple and late 90s videogame-ish in nature (enemies shatter as if they're made of glass), though the game world explains this by dropping you periodically into a 90s-era computer room. We're left to assume this is reality, while the action scenes are a virtual reality matrix inside that reality. Add the fact it all takes place inside a VR game in our world, and you have a hierarchy of realities worthy of the 2010 film Inception.
If you own an Oculus Rift with Touch controls (there's no official Vive support), Superhot is physical and immersive combat that will have you feeling like a Grade A Badass. It tops our list of recommended Touch games and, at the time of publication, is on sale for $22.49 in the Oculus Store.