Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC, Switch (TBA)
There’s something really gratifying about destroying a bunch of prismatic glass dudes and then hearing a deep AI voice say, “SUPER,” and then, after a brief pause, “HOT.” It’s weird, but it almost feels like those words are your reward for playing through one of the many challenging levels in the Superhot series. Superhot: Mind Control Delete is the third game in the franchise following Superhot VR, and it offers a nice spin on the original formula while still feeling very true to what these games are all about: stylish, surreal, slo-mo action.
A Focus on Action
For the uninitiated, the Superhot series features first-person shooting gameplay with a major twist: things only move when you move. When you start a level, you’ll notice a few enemies but may not see them moving. If you observe a little closer, you’ll see that they actually are moving — they’re just moving at a really slow pace. When you move, though, they’ll move much more rapidly with you. Stop, and they stop. Move, and they move.
Superhot: Mind Control Delete follows the same basic principles as its predecessors. But where Superhot and Superhot VR was a lot more puzzle-based in terms of timing your attacks and moving through levels, Superhot: Mind Control Delete is much more focused on action. You’ll still have to observe your surroundings and move methodically through stages to successfully clear an area, but the layouts and the situations seem tailored more toward making you feel like a badass action movie hero. This is especially true when you watch the level replay in real-time.
You’ll dodge incoming bullets, hide behind walls, and use anything you can get your hands on to take down enemies. Sometimes your best bet is a frying pan. Other times you’ll be able to pick up a pistol. Then there are those rad moments when you’ll grab a ninja star off a wall, toss it at a shotgun-wielding enemy, grab the enemy’s now-relinquished shotgun as it flies upward, and then pick off another couple dudes.
If this sounds a lot like classic Superhot, that’s because it is. That said, Superhot: Mind Control Delete features a new upgrade system that takes the action to the next level. After a certain point, you’ll be presented with two upgrade options every few levels. These upgrades include starting with a katana or random gun, increasing your health by one hit point, and so on. These upgrades stack as you progress, ultimately turning you into a killing machine. Well, a killing machine in a game that’s still challenging, that is.
A Roguelite Twist
There’s an interesting progression system in Superhot: Mind Control Delete that sets it apart from the rest of the series and gives it a light permadeath vibe. There are a lot of levels in this game, and they’re split up into chapters. These chapters make up a map that looks confusing at first but starts to take shape as you go along. You’ll be presented with branching paths, each with their own chapters, but you can still revisit chapters you previously didn’t select. This allows you to enjoy all the creative level designs in the game.
If you get killed at any point in the game, you’ll be forced to restart a chapter, but not the entire game. Some levels feel bigger and more challenging than others, and it’s here where you’ll feel the loss of progress the most. It’s pretty great that you don’t have to start the entire game over, though, because this is definitely the biggest Superhot title yet in terms of sheer amount of content.
As you move through the game’s version of an overworld map, little bits of obscure narrative will trickle through. It’s nothing mesmerizing, though, and while this level of vague storytelling worked the first time around, it seems a bit too stripped back here. It’s not terrible, but I never found myself engrossed in the game’s story.
Not much has changed in the aesthetic department since the first Superhot, but the beauty of these games is just how clean and stylish they look. Superhot: Mind Control Delete is filled with abstract enemy and object designs, and the heavy emphasis on white, red, and black is weirdly stunning. Even after four years, the visual style used in the series looks fantastic. You’ll see a lot similarity across the levels’ art design, but there’s something strangely alluring about just how simple and surreal everything looks.
Like its art style, the audio direction of Superhot: Mind Control Delete is pretty minimalistic. You’ll hear the loud, crisp sound of glass shattering whenever you bash an enemy’s head with a baseball bat. Gunshots are explosive and clean. And a constant hum is present as you play. Everything sounds solid, though that humming sound can kind of be a bit much after a while.
If all you want is more Superhot, you’ll definitely get that here. Admittedly, Superhot: Mind Control Delete doesn’t feel as novel as the original did back in 2016. Some of the levels aren’t as cleverly designed — this is especially true considering the game’s shift to a more action-oriented experience. Still, what’s there is absolutely great and a lot of fun, and if you dig the series’ brand of action, you’ll enjoy the hours and hours of first-person slow-motion combat in Superhot: Mind Control Delete.