VR Classics: ‘SUPERHOT VR’

Oculus Blog
Posted by Hayden Dingman
September 24, 2021

VR Classics is a series about the VR games and experiences we love—and why we love them.

They’re coming at you from all sides—or they will be, once time starts moving again. You take your time, assess the situation. Two on the left. One more on the right—or wait, two on the right. You almost missed the one behind the column. Nothing but a bottle to defend yourself with.

You grab the bottle and throw it at the closest grunt. The spell broken, your enemies start moving—but you planned for that, and the bottle arcs through the air and hits its mark. Bullets start flying, forcing you to duck underneath them and wait for the ones firing to get closer. They do, and you manage to disarm the first with a punch, then turn his gun on the others.

The post-fight silence is broken by a single word: SUPERHOT.

Few games feel so made-for-VR as SUPERHOT—which is funny, because it didn’t start there. SUPERHOT began life as a traditional PC game with keyboard and mouse controls. And that version became a game in its own right.

SUPERHOT VR feels so natural though. The concept—of both the original SUPERHOT and SUPERHOT VR—is that it’s a shooter where time only moves when you move. On a PC, this means manipulating the usual WASD keyboard controls to strafe around bullets and so forth.

But in VR, time truly only moves when you move. No game has made me more aware of my own body. Reach down to grab an object, and time moves. Throw it, time moves. Lean in to punch the next enemy, and time moves. SUPERHOT VR takes full advantage of the fact that you’re wearing the headset. Nothing is abstracted, the way it is when you’re using a mouse and keyboard.

That’s also what makes it so powerful though. Learn the rules, learn to be economical with your own movements, and you can do the impossible. Dodge eight punches in an elevator with superhuman speed. Stand and stare at the bullets hanging delicately in the air—and then lazily step out of the way before returning fire. Grab a gun right out of someone’s hand as they run towards you.

You’re powerful, but you’re also outnumbered. Fragile, too. One hit, and you’ll need to start over. SUPERHOT VR demands perfection, or close to it. It’s an action game, yes, but also a puzzle game. Take in your surroundings, predict how your foes will act, then plan out a response of your own. It’s a conversation, a give-and-take of punches and broken bottles and inevitable bullets.

It’s amazing. Nearly five years old now, I still find myself loading up SUPERHOT VR and playing through its entire story maybe once or twice a year. It has an endlessly replayable arcade quality. You can always be more efficient, more creative, more graceful, improving each time you run through its bite-sized levels. And where most games start to show their age visually, SUPERHOT VR’s simple but strong visual design means this one will remain timeless.

I expect I’ll still be playing it for years to come—and I don’t think I’ll be alone in that.

SUPERHOT VR is available on both the Quest Platform and Rift Platform. You can also pick up the mouse-and-keyboard version—which is an entirely different game, with different levels, and extremely fun in its own right.