“Gone Home” has already had enough written and said about it that what I’m about to write might seem somewhat redundant to some people, but it’s free on Playstation Plus at the minute, and now I’ve played it I feel compelled to write a little something at least. So if you had your fill of Gone Home opinions back when people were bleating about how it “isn’t a game” then skip down a bit to when I talk about how much I like Superhot. Spoilers for Gone Home follow.
Still here? Good-oh. First of all I’m not one of the “this isn’t a game” people (I only tend to say that about David Cage, and even then mainly about “Beyond”); this is clearly a piece of interactive media designed to tell a story by having the player search an area finding clues, there are no cutscenes or any other forms of removing control from the player. This is commendable, but for me it doesn’t work. The story it tells is, I’m sure, very useful and relatable to certain people; the sister of the main character fell in love with a girl, your parents were dicks about it so the sister left. The story and its delivery method lack any real impact; it’s told through collectibles and voice over by your sister; you never meet anyone else, you can miss or avoid the majority of the collectibles, and it lacks any sort of anchor or focal point, like Layers of Fear’s magnum opus, or P.Ts use of repetition. Interacting with the environment doesn’t feel at all engaging, and the items that trigger voice over seem random. There are positives though; despite being underwhelming, the story and the act of walking around the empty house are closely linked, and make each other work mechanically. Also the house is surprisingly really creepy, and I felt for certain that something bad was just around the corner. It never is though, it’s literally just exploring a house.
Odds are you already have an opinion on Gone Home at this point. Maybe if the story resonates with you you’ll enjoy it, but for me it’s just a nice idea held back by an execution with little impact that fades as soon as it’s finished.
Hot. Super… Hot. Super… Hot. Super…
Buy Superhot- it’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.
Hehe. So Superhot is one I’ve been looking forward to since its initial PC release- an FPS revolving around a unique mechanic: time only moves when you move. It has a cobbled together story about being trapped in the game and brain uploading and “OH NO I CAN’T QUIT” that at times threatens to be interesting, but for the most part is unnecessary and forgettable, so I won’t waste word count on it. What matters is the gameplay, whether it be in the game’s wonderfully crafted missions or “endless” challenge modes; environments are white, weapons are black, enemies are red. They spawn in, the game flashes an 80s one-liner on screen, you murder them. Guns have limited ammo, but can be thrown and the areas are often littered with other weapons. The way the time mechanic works is this: the faster you move, the faster everything else moves, capping at real time. Bullets and thrown items will hang in mid air, though will move very slowly when you’ve stopped; you die in one hit, but provided you watch your surroundings you can dodge bullets, and with careful planning you can survive being surrounded. Really it’s a puzzle game, your goal is to kill everyone but you’re a glass cannon, and murder is intricate enough to feel cerebral but fluid enough to reward improvisation and make you feel like a badass when you shoot someone, throw your empty gun at another enemy to stun them, snatch the first bloke’s gun out the air then headshot them both. At the end of each level the game replays your run in real time, and I’m struggling to think of anything in a game this year that’s made me feel as cool. Later on you gain the ability to jump into the bodies of enemies, killing them and giving you a new position, but breaking their weapon unless you’re fast enough to catch it, which opens up a whole extra layer.
Any problems? Really it’s the story, which ends up being an annoyance with how often it interrupts things. The gameplay itself can get frustrating at times, but there’s always a way around a problem, and it scales and escalates at a pace that feel natural, ramping things up in direct correlation to you getting to grips with how everything works.
Overall Superhot is a good time. It reminds me a bit of Hotline Miami actually- an indie game focused on killing that brings something really new and interesting to the table. With the former it was style and presentation. With the latter it’s a simple hook that has paid off brilliantly, one that turns killing people into a puzzle without forsaking any momentum.
By James Lambert