Superhot VR is a supercharged strategy FPS for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift where time only moves when you do. Conjured within a minimalistic and monochromatic backdrop, you’ll encounter a single red polygonal humanoid that shatters to pieces when confronted. Thus begins your journey through the Matrixesque world of Superhot VR. Punch, stab, throw, and shoot your way through room after room of aggressors as time stretches out like warm taffy.
But can this universally acclaimed VR title also give you a VR workout? VR Fitness Insider takes the time to find out!
Intensity – 3.5/10
I found that to get the best exercise benefit from this game – and to achieve success – means moving as slowly and efficiently as possible to eliminate all your targets.
To test this I used a Polar H7 chest strap heart rate monitor paired with the Polar Beat iPhone app. I wore my usual attire of a bandana, which is adequate for absorbing moderate sweat. I stuck with just the stock foam for my HTC Vive which only became minimally damp after my near hour-long experience. I measured my heartrate for both the full campaign and on the Endless Mode that became unlocked after the campaign was completed.
This was my second time playing the entire Superhot VR campaign through from start to finish, which took me about 53 minutes. My first play through was maybe around 15 minutes more. I think most people can expect to take about an hour to 90 minutes to complete their first playthrough.
- Calories burned: 260 in 53 minutes (294/hour)
- Average heart rate: 99 bpm (54% of my max heart rate)
- Max heart rate: 131 bpm (71% of max heart rate)
Using the 220 – age max heart rate formula, you can see that the intensity level varied between very light and peaks at moderate levels. This level of activity is comparable to a brisk walk. This makes it ideal as a recovery and fat burning workout.
Incorporating lower intensity workouts like this are extremely beneficial, both for untrained individuals just starting a fitness regimen, but also for seasoned athletes to enhance recovery from more strenuous workouts. Having recorded this workout the day after an intense 3-mile jog and 13-mile bike, this actually limbered me up a great deal and relieved my soreness.
I was also curious to test out some of the other gameplay modes that become unlocked once the campaign is complete. Endless mode offers 5 different battlegrounds, with wave after wave of enemies coming at you… well… endlessly!
I played each location for 10 minutes apiece and 53 minutes in total.
- Calories burned: 320 in 53 minutes (362/hour)
- Average heart rate:106 bpm (57% of my max heart rate)
- Max heart rate:132 bpm (71% of max heart rate)
Endless mode is a bit more active than the campaign, about 23% more to be precise, but still falls neatly within the same general low-intensity level and my maximum heart rate never climbed higher than the moderate level it did during the campaign.
Arms – 5/10
I contorted my arms and stretched my shoulders in some interesting poses to grab a weapon or to catch one as it careened through the air just out of reach. Punching and throwing are probably the fastest, most forceful, movement you’ll perform in the game to repel your assailants, but these are still conducted relatively slowly.
Legs – 7/10
Not knowing what situation I would be spawned into, I often adopted a wide stance to better facilitate as wide a range of movement as possible with the fewest number of steps. Ducking behind cover and evading bullets benefited from a lot of deep lunges and squats.
Core/Balance – 10/10
This is where Superhot VR really executes well as a functional exercise game. You will literally bend over backwards to narrowly dodge a barrage of slow-motion bullets and you’ll engage all your core muscles to do it without stumbling.
Time Perception – 10/10
Superhot VR revolves around time manipulation and so it’s perhaps not unsurprising that visiting a universe where time has slowed to a crawl would speed up time on the other side of the headset. I don’t think I’ve ever had another virtual reality experience where actual-reality sped by faster.
Perceived Exertion – 5/10
One advantage of many VR games is that the pace is so frantic, your mind doesn’t have the luxury of acknowledging how hard your body is pushing. Not so with Superhot VR. Superhot VR will undoubtedly have you executing some amazing supernatural action hero stunts and the glacial pace will give you plenty of opportunity to reflect on just how precariously you are teetering on the edge of toppling over.
Fitness Scalability – 3/10
Superhot VR doesn’t scale to your ability; there are no difficulty settings. Fortunately, the physical ability that this game requires should be within the grasp of most any able-bodied person. However – and as with many VR games – you have a lot of latitude to determine for yourself how much you want to be challenged when you play this. If you want to make the game less or more physically demanding, there are certainly ways to achieve that. For example, going down to one knee is much easier to accomplish than lunging or leaning backward.
Minimal Pauses in Action – 8/10
The campaign itself has only about 5 interludes in the roughly one hour that it takes to complete. During these interludes, you will manifest inside what appears to be a security monitoring station or a hacker’s terminal. You will need to insert a diskette into the console and equip the suspended HMD to continue the game. This process takes only a few seconds, assuming you can locate the disk quickly.
The other gameplay modes are very quick to jump into and every environment loaded up promptly from the SSD.
I’m taking two points away for one reason; it makes subsequent replays of the full campaign tedious. By default, after beating the game, you can’t just play the campaign straight through again like you did the first time. Instead, you are given a level select which means going back and forth between levels. Doing this 10 or 15 times in an hour of gameplay is lot to ask, not to mention difficult keeping track of the linear sequence. The other option the game offers is to “reset” your progress, but this means disabling your ability to access the unlocked content until the game is completed again.
Good news: there’s a way to have it both ways. By renaming the save file the game will “reset” by creating a new save file, and the original save can still easily be reverted to the full unlocked mode if you want to access the unlocked content again without completing the campaign.
- Copy and paste into Explorer: C:\Users\%UserProfile%\AppData\LocalLow\SUPERHOT_Team\SUPERHOT_VR
- Rename “VRsuper.hot” to something else.
- Play the Superhot VR campaign!
Considering that I found the full campaign to be the most fun of all the options, going through this process is a must.
Enjoyment – 10/10
There are few things as satisfying as the perfectly timed execution of movements that dispatches a room full of faceless henchmen in sheer seconds. This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in VR. I felt like Neo. I felt like John Wick. I felt like Ted Theodore Logan! Okay, maybe not the last guy, but definitely like a master of time and space.
Replayability – 9/10
I’ll admit that as soon as I finished playing the campaign, the first thing I wanted to do was go back and play it again. Superhot VR is a strategy game. Every move you make brings you one second closer to death and you only have mere seconds – albeit seconds that are stretched out to minutes – to plot your course. Within those confines are numberless avenues that you can pursue to achieve your objective. Exploring those possibilities should provide many, many hours of pulse-quickening enjoyment. That’s just the campaign. The unlocked bonus content, which includes the aforementioned Endless Mode, gives you even more ways to play.
The other modes, from the Store description:
- Test your aim where only headshots take out enemies.
- Race against your best scores in bullet-time and real-time.
- Try to complete the game without shooting.
- Get hardcore with faster enemies and less reaction time.
I’m taking off a point for the hoops that you’ll have to jump through to replay the campaign.
Lack of Nausea/Comfort – 7/10
There is nothing about the core gameplay that gave me nausea. There’s no virtual movement that doesn’t track perfectly to your actual movements, however, there are a couple of things in the campaign that are required to move the story along that you may find uncomfortable.
Begin spoiler warning:
To progress the storyline, at a few points you are required to self-terminate. Two of those involve shooting yourself in the head and once by falling from a ledge. This caused me no personal discomfort, but everyone handles the realism of VR differently.
End spoiler warning.
Social and Competition – 5/10
The unlocked content offers challenges to complete and you can compete against your own high scores – or others in your household – to achieve a new personal record. There are also many Steam achievements. That said, I feel Superhot VR missed an opportunity to include regional leaderboards for each of the challenges.
VR Fitness Insider’s VR FIT Score – 9/10
Not only will you bend time, but also your body to maneuver around hails of bullets or outstretched arms to narrowly catch an airborne weapon and turn the tables on your opponents. Superhot VR, at times, feels like a game of Twister, but one done standing instead of on the floor. Expect to have your flexibility and isometric endurance tested.
This game scratched a VR fitness itch I didn’t even know I had. A core focused, low-intensity, recovery workout is something that has been missing from my VR fitness regimen. Anyone who has practiced Tai Chi or Vinyasa Yoga can tell you the many benefits that they bestow, including improved balance, core strength, blood circulation, and focus. I found that Superhot VR has the capability of replicating many of the same results as those ancient practices.
But, ya know, with gun play.