Words About Video Games

41 Games: Superhot

I rarely say this about a game, but I could have done without narrative wrapper entirely, but I would have gladly taken twice as many levels.

I beat it in a single sitting. It's a first person shooter for people who would rather slow down, take stock of their surroundings and plan their next move, and it does that using an ingenious time-warping system that means it never sacrifices its sense of speed and reflex.

The issue with its narrative wrapper is that it wants to say something about agency without ever actually giving you any. At no point can you make even the illusion of a choice, so when its strange sci-fi system takes over and deprives you of your choices, it doesn't feel as if you've lost anything. 

More distressing, it seems to want/expect players to embrace their lack of agency. To give themselves over to this malevolent system that has taken over their brains. That takes the narrative from being merely unsuccessful to being thematically ugly. A piece of work about surrendering free will to an algorithm that celebrates that surrender as a good thing.