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Superhot: Mind Control Delete

Superhot: Mind Control Delete

Written by Eric Hauter on 7/30/2020 for PS4  
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I’ve played through the original Superhot twice now, and I still have no idea what is happening in the game’s story. The story is some weird sci-fi cyberpunk thing, with the player running missions for “the system” in the guise of playing a game. Eventually, the nature of the system is revealed (kinda), and the player gives themselves over to the system (maybe) by uploading their consciousness (possibly) and assassinating their own body (almost certainly).

My point is, with Superhot, the story isn’t the point. It is a bunch of hoodoo nonsense, the connective tissue that strings together a series of puzzle-like missions. It is table dressing; mood stuff that—while not helping to flesh out the world per se—at least puts players in the right mind space for Superhot.

Superhot: Mind Control Delete forgoes a lot of the original’s plot and presentation, opting instead to get straight into the action with a little bit of buzzing about, but no real fanfare. This time around, the cyber-weird moments are built right into the UI of the game, but little time is spent trying to set the scene. In many ways, this newer version of Superhot feels much more like a banging arcade game than the puzzle game that the original could be.

For those that aren’t familiar, Superhot is a shooter, with players blazing through stark white environments, blasting away at red crystal foes and watching them explode in a spray of ruby glass. The hook is that time only moves forward when you move, allowing the player to stand still and carefully plan each move. This allows players like me (average or worse at shooters) to go full John Wick on rooms full of dudes, gun-fu-ing madly away until none are left standing.

Punch the guy in front of you in the head, and he drops his gun. Snatch the gun out of the air and blast him in the face. A guy behind you is running towards you with a katana. Throw the gun at him, causing him to drop the katana. Slice him in the face and watch him explode. On your left, another guy has fired a pistol at you. Bat the bullet away with the katana, then throw it through the guy’s neck.

Endlessly streaming these moves together makes the player feel like a complete badass, and that is the core appeal of Superhot. The original game plopped players into the middle of carefully constructed scenarios, then challenged them to work their way through to the end. Oftentimes, there was only one real path forward, which players would uncover through trial and error. When you finally figured out the answer, Superhot was amazingly satisfying.

Mind Control Delete is up to something different. Gone are the levels that were meticulously constructed by game designers, and in their place are randomized, roguelike environments. While players will recognize repeating environments (a fair amount of them), the placement and appearance of enemies has been randomized. Players no longer have to clear an entire level. After a set number of baddies are properly exploded, the rest spontaneously combust, and the player moves on.

This has the effect of keeping the gameplay constantly fresh, but also takes away some of the immediacy and intensity of the original title. Don’t get me wrong, I loved ninja-ing my way through this game, but there is little in the way of puzzle solving this time around. Mind Control Delete is much more concerned with getting players to think on their feet.

Levels are presented as “nodes,” with players typically having a few choices as to which node to progress to next. With little indication of what the nodes contain, its pretty much a crapshoot at to what content is contained within. It could be anew power to unlock, a short little scene, or simply a new level to overcome. In each node, players have a number of lives represented as “hearts.” One hit takes away one life, and the player must finish the node (about six levels) with at least one life intact to unlock the next in that particular branch.

Several different enemy types have been added to help mix things up. Early levels contain invisible bad guys, forcing the player to extrapolate their location from their floating weapons. Fine, unless the guy is unarmed—which can feel a little cheap. Some guys have weapons that appear to be part of their body, so players are unable to knock them free. Some guys have particular body parts that are vulnerable—meaning that if you don’t hit their leg or head or whatever, they aren’t going down. These minor changes cause players to approach enemies in different ways, forming strategies as they appear on the scene.

Luckily, a number of cool upgrades can be earned as the game progresses to help overcome these newly empowered foes. Each of these fits right into the Matrix-like Superhot universe. The upgrades feel like such a logical extension of gameplay that I began to wonder why they weren’t in the first game. This is good stuff: Bullets that go through enemies to take out guys behind them. Exploding throwables, which rain shrapnel down for an area-of-effect attack. A barrage of shuriken that shoot out at enemies if you take damage. Or, my personal favorite, the ability to warp to enemies from across the room and punch them in the head. If only I had that one in real life.

There are a bunch of simpler upgrades you can earn over the course of a level, with the game offering stuff like extra ammo, shorter time between shots, faster movement, even simple heals which can totally save your bacon. These upgrades are temporary to the level you are in, but still helpful. Once you have all the goodies unlocked, that’s a good time to jump into the endless mode. You can pretty much guess how that one works.

Its strange to say, but comparing this standalone expansion to the original title is a little bit of an apple and orange situation. Very different fruit, but in this case both are equally delicious. While I enjoyed the puzzle-solving nature of the original game, I also get a big kick out of the freewheeling carnage I was able to unleash in this new title. Plus, there’s a bunch of extra stuff laying around to pick up and throw at people. Always a bonus.

Its nice to have a Superhot to play for hours on end. I’ve been enjoying getting into the groove with this game and checking out from our hellscape reality to rain down lead on the hapless AI bots that inhabit Superhot’s neat, clean world. Superhot has always been about violent, action film wish fulfillment, and this new version is no exception. While I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of the original, I am also grateful for the opportunity to turn my brain off in this new edition.

Taking Superhot's amazing and addictive gameplay and expanding it in several directions, Superhot: Mind Control Delete feels exactly right. New bad guys, new powers, and roguelike randomized levels keep the game feeling much more rollicking than its intellectual predecessor. Mind Control Delete offers what the original game did not; endless hours of Superhot fun. Not bad for a free add on.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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