SUPERHOT Sponsored By: Me
Tick Tock Bang Bang Sponsored By: Also Me
Time Superheated: 2 Hours
Tick Tock Timed: 49 Minutes
Tick Tock Hot Review
Who came first? Who did it better? Have I just made a horribly inappropriate joke without meaning to?
Super Bang Bang Review
Parallel inspiration is a funny thing. Back in the days before the internet made plagiarism easy and fun, inventors had to do it the hard way: by figuring it out themselves.
Boyle’s Law, for example, was discovered independently of Boyle’s influence by Edme Mariotte. Boyle was first, but Mariotte had no way of knowing that, and so a law about what gases do in closed systems was named for a homonym of what was actually happening, rather than one for a hotel chain.
So it was with SUPERHOT and Tick Tock Bang Bang. They’re both first-person games with minimalist art styles, they both have a core mechanic that makes time stop moving unless the player is moving, and they both came out within four months of each other in 2016. I can’t say for sure, but I’d guess this precludes the notion of the latter being an outright copy of the former, since it generally takes more than four months to take a video game from concept to market these days.
The difference is in the details. SUPERHOT, for example, has all capital letters in its title, while Tick Tock Bang Bang has only four.
Also, Tick Tock Bang Bang seems to have more faith in its ability to entertain than does SUPERHOT, because it has a loose premise about being a stuntwoman in the future, filming a series of action movies, rather than a dour plot about some dude in a VR helmet falling for a malware chain letter.
I find the time-stopping mechanic in both games to be interesting in exactly the same way (probably because they function in exactly the same way). It gives you time to maneuver yourself through obstacles that would be too densely packed to negotiate in real time. It also means you have to lead all of your targets while shooting, because the bullets you shoot get slowed down just like everything else.
Story aside, the real difference between the two games is what sorts of things are trying to kill you. In SUPERHOT, you are assailed by faceless red men with various weapons – weapons which you are free to steal if you wish – while in Tick Tock Bang Bang you’re dodging dump trucks, explosions, lasers and flying drones with missile launchers (which you are free to steal, if you wish).
Which game you gravitate toward is ultimately a matter of aesthetic preference. Personally, I’ve been a fan of Dejobaan’s madcap, pastel-infused style for a long time, and my time with Tick Tock Bang Bang, though shorter than my time spent with SUPERHOT, was more varied and, dare I say it, more fun than my time with SUPERHOT.
Tick Tock Bang Bang just drops you in the level and literally shouts “action!” You finish a level, and they give you a new level that is even more crazy and fun than the last one. Sometimes you have to shoot things; sometimes you have to dodge things; sometimes you have to fight a boss, which involves shooting things and dodging things. That may not sound much different from SUPERHOT on paper, but when you’re on a narrow ledge trying to avoid an avalanche of boulders, you feel the difference.
I felt like SUPERHOT was a little too impressed by itself, like the moment where the game makes you say its name over and over again in order to continue playing it. A lot of people found that sequence to be terribly clever, but to me it came across like an overbearing but insecure lover who needs affirmation to reach climax. Yes, dear, you’re very Super and very Hot. Are you in yet?
This isn’t to say I dislike either game. Far from it. The comparison is illustrative of how subjective preference is. Looking at a list of technical checkboxes, these games are, for all intents and purposes, the same game. It’s only the presentation that differs, and your preference for one over the other will determine which one you like. I happen to prefer games that are willing to be silly and bombastic, but other people like a more serious, foreboding tone. I just love the fact that the game industry saw fit to cater to both audiences at the same time.
Which one will I keep playing?
Both, I think. Now that I’ve cleared the story mode in SUPERHOT I can go do the work of just enjoying the mechanics without having to put up with scripted chat sequences. I still have to deal with the chirping, not-even-clever-please-stop modem noise whenever I reload a level, which is one place where Tick Tock Bang Bang has the advantage, as it restarts levels almost instantly. The question ultimately is whether I want to be a kung-fu movie star or a summer-blockbuster action star, and my preference on that front changes several times per day.
Do either of these games rank on the Dark Souls scale?
I have to give SUPERHOT the edge on difficulty, and that’s probably because the hit boxes for your character are larger while the bullets are smaller. Many’s the time I’ve gotten shot by a bullet I thought that I was well away from in SUPERHOT, while the collision detection in Tick Tock Bang Bang feels much more forgiving. Also, there’s a time cost to shooting in SUPERHOT that isn’t there in Tick Tock Bang Bang, so you have to pick your opportunities more carefully in the former. It’s more difficult, but not an unwelcome addition to the puzzle.
On average, though, they both rank about midway up the ladder. Call it a total of eight out of sixteen souls, where each one rates a four.