10 May 2017
Can the slo-mo bullet-dodging and gunslinging of the effortlessly stylish video game keep its cool on the tabletop?
Last year’s first-person shooter Superhot (say it with me now: SUPER. HOT.) can probably lay claim to being one of the most innovative and downright stylish video games in recent memory, thanks to its genius time-moves-when-you-do mechanics and stark red and white polygonal aesthetic.
Manuel Correia’s card game adaptation (based on his existing design for Agent Decker) attempts to recreate the manic energy of dodging bullets Matrix-style, flipping tables and lobbing glass bottles with a smart deckbuilding core.
A central line of cards combines actions and weapons, which can be defeated by spending attack or dodge points, bringing them into your personal stack. Those left undefeated move up each round, neatly representing the ebb of time and providing a tense escalation as you frantically draw fresh cards hoping to take them out.
Enemies armed with weapons fire bullet cards that, in a nice time-bending touch, join the obstacle discard pile and reappear later on – you know they’ll pop up eventually when the deck is reshuffled, so you need to remain on your toes. Bullets left unaccounted for when they arrive in the middle are discarded to your hand, with four resulting in death.
In the meantime, the player is trying to complete random objectives, the number of which increases with each of three levels in a ‘campaign’. These vary from clearing the central line to holding certain combinations of cards, fluidly mixing up the play style required to progress.
While the core engine of the Superhot Card Game ticks over smoothly, the limitation to simply using attack or dodge points to remove cards from the central line never recaptures the same action-movie stunt feel of its source material. For example, shotguns and pistols provide different abilities to enemies preparing to fire (the shotgun understandably produces twice the number of bullets), but are to the player simply attack cards with slightly different values – there’s no taking two enemies out with a single blast here.
That’s not to say Superhot’s underlying mechanics are weak; it’s satisfying to take down a line of red baddies with a combination of guns, tables, bottles and swords. In fact, the most exciting card is the katana, which allows you to chop down a bullet in mid-air. But these are the moments that made the video game such an achievement; on the tabletop they’re just in too short a supply.
This review is based on a single-player-only demo version of the game provided by the publisher. The full game will also include multiplayer.
Publisher: Board & Dice
Time: 30 minutes
This review originally appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products.