Superhot: Mind Control Delete Review

I don’t play a lot of modern FPS games. Though I love occasionally dipping into the classics, especially when they’re remastered onto the Switch, I avoid a lot of contemporary shooters. They tend to be very involved in online Leaderboards, heavy graphical demand or overly complex ideology in both storytelling and execution. Games like Borderlands 3, Far Cry 6 or even the far less demanding Bioshock Infinite is a bit beyond my reach just because they go outside of my wheelhouse and also my available system. But there’s been one title that I invested a bit of time into, and it was one that I actually played with my children, much to everyone’s surprise. I don’t know why my kids loved to hear the consistent call of SUPER. HOT. It was a hilarious siren’s call to them, and they were fascinated by the way that the sparkling red star of thematic mayhem that Superhot Team created seemed to sparkle. So, when it turned out that the latest game in the series was being given away for free to legitimate purchase holders, I knew that we would be there. All three of us sat down to dive into SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE.

For those completely unaware, SUPERHOT was and is an innovative first-person shooter that used a unique mechanism of time manipulation to make the game happen. Enemies and enemy projectiles only moved when you did, turning the game from a simple shooter into a puzzle shooter of sorts. Being able to figure out the when and how of disarming and disabling your foes, who are all represented by red, humanoid, crystalline figures became a really cool challenge that didn’t do a bad job of punishing you for failure. A single hit would end your life, so it was important to get it all down to a precise moment in terms of execution and coordination. You eventually unlock the ability to jump into other NPCs in order to survive moments of unavoidable death, so then it becomes a further motif of gambling your existence based on your consciousness, which also plays a bit into the plotline of the game. To no one’s surprise, there’s a sort of substory about addiction and manipulation through addiction in the original game, and it made it a very twisted, upsetting commentary on wanting to continue to play the game. Thankfully, at that time, my kids couldn’t read, so they weren’t aware of the irony of wanting to keep playing just to see the explosions.

With SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE, it appears that we’re picking up where the original game left off with some very innocuous seeming stages that repeat the old ideas. Right away, you’re presented with some newer objects to use as weapons, but the old standbys (guns and blades) is still the most effective in dealing with enemies. I don’t know if it was as present in the original, but I was keenly aware with MIND CONTROL DELETE that enemies weren’t entirely stationary when you were planning your next move. Instead, they appeared to be moving incredibly slowly, as if through molasses, meaning that I felt a greater sense of urgency in planning my moves because things weren’t completely stopped. This generally wasn’t a problem: the first few stages are benign in the sense of gameplay, giving you plenty of time and space to remember the graceful mechanics of punching, disarming, grabbing a flying weapon out of the air and then disabling the other AI with a single shot. It was glorious, though my children were sort of disappointed that we didn’t finish each stage with the signature call of SUPER.HOT.

However, at the end of five levels, you suddenly execute an AI that’s crouched over the keyboard, and you get the “THE END” screen. My children are confused. “Did you beat this game the same day you got it?” my elder daughter asked. The game seems to insist that I did, but I don’t believe it. Without hesitation, I load up the game again, triggering a single call of SUPER.HOT. (There was much cheering for that one) and going back to the levels. Things are a little different now, but it feels similar. When I reach the final stage, giant word banners pop up, insisting that the game is over. There’s no reason to be here anymore. I find the AI over the keyboard, but now there’s a disabled AI on the ground next to it. I am confused. I decide to take a chance and fire into the new keyboard AI. A ton of accolades appears, imploring me to stop playing, I’m the champion, my parents are proud, etc. Then the facade is finally over, and the real freaking game begins.

MIND CONTROL DELETE dives, headfirst, into the intangible and obtuse world of SUPERHOT, giving players a brand new perspective on the game while maintaining so much of the original construct that gave it life and love. Now there’s a roguelike element that’s been created, complete with brand new conditions and targets. You’re able to choose a path that you’re moving forward with stages, and each branch might unlock new abilities for your character. You now have a health meter, which is simply insane. I mean, you can get hit in SUPERHOT and not instantly be dead: how bizarre is that? You find new power-ups (called hacks and cores) that augment both your performance and the way the game is played. I got up to four hearts of health, and I started each stage with a Katana in hand, and everything I threw exploded like a shrapnel grenade, and I became an intense killing machine. It was so freaking awesome, and my kids had the time of their lives.

Then I died, and I had to start from the beginning.

MIND CONTROL DELETE has incorporated a permadeath mechanic, turning SUPERHOT from one kind of risk/reward game into a totally different one that still keeps the teeth and spirit that got us all hooked. Now there’s a chance to make a bad move and get hurt, but not to finish the whole game. As a result, enemies do come at you from all sides, so awareness becomes paramount. I imagine that players who lived through the SUPERHOT VR sessions might fare better here than just those of us who did the flat screen version, though I can’t be sure. It’s so surreal to see the game develop before you as you go deeper and deeper, pulling more strongly at the ideas of imaginary control versus wilful submission, at the illusions of power and choice in the face of an omnipresent watcher who seems to know what you will do and what you crave. There’s a sort of twisted glee in what you seek to create through repeated play, as though AM itself crafted a new way to torture the survivors through the smokescreen of a game. It’s terrifying as it is enjoyable, and I wondered if I was a good father for continuing to allow my kids to watch the play. However, they were just excited to see how many things I could throw as weapons. And, hint, there are SO MANY. I threw fish. I threw CDS. I threw a miniature bust of Anubis. I ripped the arm off a slot machine and threw that. Everything is a weapon, and MIND CONTROL DELETE won’t forget that.

As always, when it comes to a PC game review, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my machine sucks and I still had a fabulous time. My graphics card, a 1GB deal that’s close to seven years old now, handled SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE with zero issues. In fact, I believe the way that my card sort of left a ghost trail between loading screens added to the environment and crafted an even better experience. I sort of wish I could have tried the game on my XBox One, but that copy of SUPERHOT came from Gold, so no freebie there, and that’s alright. Holy crap, Superhot Team developed a brand new game, with so much content and replay value, and they gave it away FOR FREE. To nearly everyone who bought the game previously. That blows my mind in such a cool way, and I’m very impressed by their dedication to loyal fans and to their fanbase as a whole.

If you have any love for the original, or are genuinely curious about the scope of the game as a practice in non-traditional shooters, then you should get SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE. The simple colour scheme makes the gameplay pop, and I’m in this for the long haul in seeing what other power I can achieve, what other characters (yes, new characters!) I can unlock, and how far this rabbit hole goes. I might need to play without my kids in the future, though: we just started using microscopes in science class, and I don’t want her throwing one at an offending classmate and then blaming video games.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Superhot: Mind Control Delete Review
  • Gameplay - 9/10
    9/10
  • Graphics - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sound - 9/10
    9/10
  • Replay Value - 9/10
    9/10
Overall
9/10

Summary

If you have any love for the original, or are genuinely curious about the scope of the game as a practice in non-traditional shooters, then you should get SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE.