It’s amazing how much a simple concept can achieve. Brought to the world as “a game where time moves only when you move”, SUPERHOT was unleashed for free in browser form in September 2013. Boasting with plenty of epic bullet-dodging, tons of slow-mo destruction and super hot visuals (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself), loads of fun could be had despite the short duration of gameplay that was up for grabs. Sure, back then we were merely looking at a bare-bones version of a prototype created during a 7 Day FPS challenge, but the meat was there.
More important – people got hooked, and then it all escalated rather quickly. Apparently, Cliffy B even said that it “deserves all the monies”.
Fast-forward about 8 months — SUPERHOT enters Kickstarter. Not only that, but it garners over $100,000 in the campaign’s first 24 hours, later on unlocking a bunch of stretch goals such as a speedrun mode, a replay mode and new game plus support while also accumulating a grand total of $250,798. Not too bad at all. Now I’m even somewhat intrigued to see how the Polish devs coped with that type of success.
Communication-wise, a total of 34 SUPERHOT Kickstarter updates can be seen – 13 of which are progress check-ups with the rest mostly involving bigger announcements or behind the scenes goodness. Overall, it’s a pretty high amount considering the game has been in development for almost 2 years , without counting the 8 months spent in preparation prior to the Kickstarter launch. As a side-note, some of my personal favourite updates include SUPERQOT and this GIF of a chain moving along with the player character in slow motion. (I am also slightly bitter about not witnessing that exact moment in-game… Oh well.)
Crucially though, all the updates have been short and to the point, only keeping backers’ hunger for SUPERHOT with well-timed announcements of things like the addition of katanas, or the ability to grab weapons mid-air. Really, stuff everyone should be screaming in excitement about. The fact that there was a backer-exclusive beta released in August 2015 is simply the icing on the cake, even making me slightly regretful of not getting behind the campaign myself.
When it comes to the campaign itself though, I think that analyzing why it ended up being so successful in the first place is somewhat worthless, especially when you consider the fact that virtually every major gaming outlet already had articles written on SUPERHOT’s unique concept and how stupidly addicting it was to play. And while it’s true that very few game can achieve this type of initial popularity, it also shows how important a solid prototype is for getting big on Kickstarter.
In a way, if a game garners so much attention in its infant stages you’ve pretty much done the majority of your marketing already. In this case, a constantly repeating, deep-spoken phrase consisting of the words SUPER and HOT is arguably all that had to be done in order for people to remember the game, and crucially to later get even more excited when seeing the name pop-up on Steam’s front page. With that sort of backbone, $250,798 really seem like a no-brainer.
With that being said, I played SUPERHOT’s release version these past few days without having any prior knowledge of the developments that happened on Kickstarter, only having vague memories of my time spent with the original build back in 2014. Going blindly into a game is something I haven’t done for quite some time, and without going into too much details all I can say is that I certainly did not expect such a unique story out of a game focused on shooting red figures and dodging bullets. I’m just going to leave it there, since the “campaign” bit is awfully short to complete (around 2 hours, give or take), but in the same time SUPERHOT’s juiciness arguably lies in the challenges and endless modes you unlock after beating the game — funnily enough, both of those happen to be byproducts of the Kickstarter and its stretch goals.
In its final form, the game is essentially a sandbox that enables countless opportunities for insane and memorable situations seen through the spectrum of time-warped goodness. Bullets mean instant death and everything depends on how fast you assess your situation. Should I risk a melee attack? What about throwing a bottle at the dude in the front and then grabbing that shotgun on the floor? There are countless situations that force you to decide on what you think the best use of the game’s mechanics are, and this makes SUPERHOT a ridiculously pure and fun experience that works cohesively on almost every level.
Looking back at the game’s development progress through Kickstarter, the end result is pretty much an accurate representation of what the developers seemed to have had intended with the original prototype. I did notice some environments such as this cathedral place not appearing in the final game, on top of some missing objects such as throwable shurikens, but those are just small nitpicks. As with most Kickstarter campaigns, there is also the aspect of a few physical rewards still having to be sent out to backers on top of several people not receiving their codes in time, but I’d call SUPERHOT a mighty fine crowdfunding attempt – especially considering it’s a first for the Polish team behind it.
It will certainly be interesting to see how sales develop throughout the next few weeks, as something tells me SUPERHOT’s glory days aren’t quite done yet — especially with the Xbox One version slowly poking its head through the horizon and with the developers mentioning a bunch of free content updates coming our way soon. For now though, why not head to killstagram.com? I heard that place has some SUPERHOT clips you might fancy.