They say patience is a virtue. In Superhot: Mind Control Delete, being patient means standing still. Just chill for a second, and let everything slow to a crawl. Scope the scene, then continue your rampage. So why can’t I stop getting killed?
Mind Control Delete is a standalone Superhot title released for free to owners of the original game. It boasts “five times the content” of its predecessor, with a slew of randomly cobbled together gauntlets complete with upgrades, progression, and tons of new weapons. It takes the buttery goodness of Superhot’s core gameplay and slaps it onto a proprietary stage generator, essentially. It mostly works (and it’s “free”), so let’s review this thing.
Mind Control Delete opens with a brief tutorial segment that teaches the player the fundamentals of “just stand still, dummy.” In Superhot, time only moves when you do, so the four or five goons barreling down on you can be dispatched with pinpoint precision with a little of that magic word: patience.
After the tutorial, the player is bombarded with vague exposition and moralizing about how killing the red dudes made out of crystallized sugar is bad, actually. I don’t care, I’m here to game: give me some more. After some faux credits and “are you sure you want to kill more of the red dudes?” pondering, I slammed the button that said “yes, please let me murderize the dudes, I’m a bad person” and continued to the game proper.
Stages are broken up into trees that can be tackled in a semi-nonlinear fashion. Unlockable “hacks” are sprinkled throughout, and these give the player unique abilities and upgrades as they take on each level. You’ll need to complete several stages in a row, so choosing the right hacks for each “node” is essential. Think of it as picking up items between levels in Super Mario Brothers 3. Specializing in katanas, I ended up with a brief run that let me deflect every bullet being fired at once, recall my katana like Thor, and ricochet the recalls between enemies. It was sick.
The progression system is interesting and serves the core loop well enough. Levels consist of one or more stages broken up by the ability to pick one of the aforementioned hacks, but they lack any real variety in structure. Almost always it’s: beat a stage, pick an upgrade, beat two stages, pick an upgrade, beat three stages, end of level.
There are tons of new weapons, although when I say “tons,” the weapons doing a lot of the work are a variety of items that exist only to be tossed into the general direction of enemies. Fish, staplers, floppy discs, records, fish, bones, Erlenmeyer flasks, bottles, fish. The list goes on. Some more notable additions are a railgun, shuriken, and throwing knives.
Like I said before, the levels are somewhat random. You’ve got to complete several in a row, but if you run out of health during a run you’ll find yourself with another assortment of stages to complete. Even making good progress, there were plenty of repeats. I swear I saw the same poolside apartment exterior level like six times. Enemy spawns are random as well, meaning you’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder to see if anyone’s stalked behind you with a katana.
This new system is both good and bad. Good in that it can generate essentially infinite content, and bad in that the content is always limited by said generation. Doors on the sides of the map are always were enemies spawn, for example. So if I stake up in a corner and wait for them to come to me, I’ll always have a predictable challenge. In the first game, hand-crafted levels meant scenarios that forced the player out of their comfort zone, but here there’s only one type of scenario, that being “wave-based cage match.”
Mind Control Delete attempts to rectify this with boss events, lore sections, and nauseating visual effects applied to rehashed levels. Unfortunately, these are often more annoying than not and provide only a brief respite from the standard fare.
The repetition is softened somewhat by the inclusion of a few new enemy types. One has armored segments of its body and requires precise aim to take down. Another explodes in a hailstorm of bullets when killed, meaning you can’t just bum-rush it like the others. The latter enemy type has far more impact on the gameplay, and I would’ve preferred more unique spins like it rather than simply giving everyone a gun and commanding them to run at the player spraying bullets.
The biggest downfall of Mind Control Delete is also its slogan: MORE. More levels, but they quickly become repetitive. More weapons, but they all functionally serve similar purposes. More powers… okay the powers are pretty cool. Ultimately, if you’re a sucker for Superhot gameplay, this should scratch the itch. But if you were hoping for some of the clever design and well-paced action of the original, you’re likely going to be a little let down by what amounts to an “endless mode.” Still, it should be said that even now, years after the original’s release, it’s refreshing to return to Superhot’s unique flavor of action.
This review is based on the PC version of the game. A copy was provided by the SUPERHOT Team.
The biggest downfall of Mind Control Delete is also its slogan: MORE. The gameplay is still great, but the focus on quantity over quality makes the experience feel shallow.