- Release Date (NA): July 16, 2020
- Publisher: SUPERHOT Team
- Developer: SUPERHOT Team
- Genres: Action
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE has been in development since 2017, and is the third installment in the SUPERHOT series of games. The primary promise of the expansion can be described simply as “MORE.” More levels, more intense gameplay, and generally, more fun. The developers knew they had a solid base, and rather than try to shake up their formula too much, they decided to keep what works, and add on to make more out of it. It’s a theme that’s present as you go through the game, and as both a theme and a promise, it delivers in the most entertaining way.
Abiding by the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the core gameplay of MIND CONTROL DELETE hasn’t changed from previous entries. Time only moves when you do, and you’re given limited resources to defend yourself against an onslaught of enemies. Anything that’s blue, you can pick up and use as a weapon. This ranges from guns, blades, cans, fish, glasses… if it can be picked up, it can be used as a weapon. And when all else fails, you always have your trusty fists. It’s amazing how much fun can be had with this system, as you’re forced to constantly be thinking on your feet and ready to improvise at a moments notice. Some limitations are implemented along with the freezing of time, including gun reloading and blade swinging. If you’re standing still, your gun can’t be fired again, or your sword can’t be swiped. You have to move to get access to these weapons again. This led to a lot of me throwing my gun at an enemy so I could rush them and punch them to death before they had a chance to take a shot at me. I also love the feature at the end of each level, where your slow motion gameplay gets sped up to real time, showing you the fast paced action in full. It feels a lot like something out of a John Wick or Matrix movie, and it made completing each level super satisfying. It’s, truly, some of the most fun I’ve had playing a first-person shooter in years.
Let’s address the elephant in the room; MIND CONTROL DELETE is not VR compatible. A surprise, to be sure, given the popularity and success of 2017's SUPERHOT VR. I tend to try and focus on what games are, rather than dwelling on what they aren’t. In this case, though, I really can’t ignore the missed opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, it's still outrageously fun, and I hardly tore myself away from it to even write this review. But every time I start playing it, I’m overcome with thoughts of how much more fun this would be in VR. The minimalist aesthetic and unique gameplay proved to make an excellent VR experience, and it’s just crazy to me that SUPERHOT Team wouldn’t make VR a feature in this updated experience, and as of right now they’ve said they have no plans to make it so. It’s definitely a nitpick, and it doesn’t detract from what the game is. Rather, it just has me lamenting what could’ve been.
The aesthetic is the same great minimalism that SUPERHOT fans have come to know and love. Each level is pure white, with a theme that dictates the set pieces and terrain. Usable items are highlighted in blue, while your enemies starkly contrast with their red coloring. Everything has the same polygonal design that the series is known for, and fits well in uniform with each other. That said, I will admit, nothing here looks drastically different from SUPERHOT or VR. But I don’t really think it needs to. There’s an established aesthetic that fits the tone and themes in the game. When enemies are destroyed, they explode in a hail of red shards that is so satisfying to see. Senseless violence has never looked so good.
The levels of MIND CONTROL DELETE are something of a marathon run. You have a selection map of nodes to choose from, entering a node will put you into a sequence of levels you have to complete to conquer the node. The amount of levels in each node varies, but generally you have to beat more levels in each node the further along you get. Each level map has a few different spawn spots that you’re dropped in on, and the enemies don’t have set patterns, which both help to keep things from getting too stale. That said though, the game’s promise of MORE sort of falls short here, since there’s only a handful of maps that get cycled through constantly. It’s a bit disappointing, but the small amount of RNG that occurs each time you enter a level does keep it fresh enough that it’s just a small complaint.
While MIND CONTROL DELETE is happy to keep the things that work the same, it does add its own spin to complement and expand on the already great gameplay. The first, most noticeable change is the introduction of a small health system. While there’s still not necessarily a health bar, you’re no longer limited to taking a single hit in each level. You start with, at minimum, two hearts, that have to get you through the entire run of levels in each node. If you lose all your hearts, your cycle restarts, you lose any hacks you might have had, and you go back to square one. On some of the longer runs of levels, this can be incredibly frustrating, and make it feel like the node you’re on is never ending. That said, restarting your run is the only consequence to death. You don’t get kicked to the start menu, or lose anything for your efforts. The multi-heart system, while limited, helps alleviate the frustration of getting sent back to the start, and encourages you to try out new methods and strategies as you dance through the ballet of death.
Cores and hacks are the biggest addition to the base gameplay. Cores are different abilities that you start your run with, like more hearts at the start or the ability to return a thrown katana to your hands. Hacks, meanwhile, are different upgrades that you can pick up as you progress through the node, such as making you faster, starting with a random gun, and being able to shoot faster just to name a few. As you conquer nodes and unlock new areas of the maps, you’re given the opportunity to find and obtain different hacks and cores. Once you complete a short tutorial on how each one works, it gets added to your hack pool or core selection and becomes available for you to use. You can only choose your core once, at the start of each node, and you get a set amount of hacks per level, being randomly offered one of two hacks from your pool at each opportunity. I like this system a lot, especially the hacks. They offer some really useful and fun abilities that don’t make the game “too easy,” while allowing you to customize your gameplay and try new things. It’s also completely random which two hacks you’ll be offered at any given time, so the gameplay stays fresh as you can’t always get your favorite selection of hacks.
Changes like these really highlight the theme of MIND CONTROL DELETE: MORE. Nowhere does the game try to reinvent itself, or try to change what people liked about the predecessors. It’s an expansion in the truest sense of the word; adding to the game, and creating a new experience by expanding upon the base that already exists. Some things work better than others, that’s for sure. But there’s nothing here I can truly qualify as “bad.” On the contrary, I’d classify just about everything in this game as pure fun, and at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.
SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE - Trailer
- MORE amazing gameplay
- MORE great looking minimalist design
- Cores and hacks add a new way to customize how you play
- Reused levels get a bit old
- Lack of VR support