I’ve got to hand it to the Superhot Team; they sure know how to build out a relatively straightforward game concept and keep it challenging and entertaining for far longer than one might reasonably think it should be. Superhot: Mind Control Delete began as a free DLC add-on to the original game. It ended up growing into a full standalone expansion that’s about four times the size of the original game.
As the game often reminds you, this has more of everything. It packs in loads of abilities to acquire and master. Players will also find a loose and cryptic narrative to uncover as they dig deeper into the system. Each stage features procedurally generated events, so you never know where enemies will pour in from or what weapons they’ll have. When combined together, it makes for an extremely addictive experience.
Hacking the system apart
Superhot: Mind Control Delete is one of those rare games that dares to ask: Can there be too much of a good thing? As it turns out, the answer is a near-certain maybe.
The core gameplay remains largely unchanged from the previous game. You sort of uncover the plot through a handful of cryptic rants as you progress. From what I can gather, you’re a hacker who is violently infiltrating a minimalistic, monochrome virtual world while glassy, ruby red-colored minions stream in to kill you.
Each level contains several stages that you’ll become intimately familiar with. Time flows at a glacial pace until you start moving, allowing you to dodge bullets, acquire weapons, and plan your next move. However, you start each level with only two lives, which you must maintain until you beat all the stages. Along the way, you’ll pick up core abilities that include one extra health point, a leaping punch, body switching, and recalling the katana to your hand. These help to ease and vary up the gameplay.
You also unlock hacks such as healing, ricocheting bullets, and starting each stage with a katana in hand. The game presents you with a choice of two hacks midway through levels, with some defined by your core ability. For instance, if you chose to have an extra health point, you may find an option to expand it to four or five points. Some of the hacks prove way too situational for my taste, though, particularly the katana enhancements. The game has way more guns than swords, after all.
Every so often, you find just the right sequence of hacks to help you breeze through a level. Other times, you’re stuck desperately throwing vases, plates, forks, and anything else you can get your hands on in a desperate attempt to avoid getting shot.
Wave after wave
For the most part, the Superhot formula works amazingly well. The procedurally generated stages help to keep each playthrough unique. However, this does also lead to occasions where a line of foes comes running in from the same doorway. Or, the game may place a near-indestructible enemy right next to you at the start of the stage.
Still, despite hours of playing and tons of frustration, I never got bored of shattering waves of VR minions. The difficulty ramps up as you progress. Soon, explosive enemies will appear, followed by hard-to-see white minions with one weak point. Then, traps start showing up. Finally, unkillable boss characters, each equipped with one of your core abilities, step in at the most inconvenient times to ruin your day. However, these are manageable challenges. What really got on my nerves was the random dying.
Dying for more
Death can come from anywhere in Superhot: Mind Control Delete, whether it be someone sneaking up to strike you from behind or a stray bullet hitting your toe. It’s entirely possible for you to hit yourself with your own bullet. Plenty of times, I had absolutely no idea what killed me, and that led to some extremely frustrating and expletive-filled moments. While you can record and share your big chain kills moments, the game doesn’t provide a death camera or replay to illustrate how you died. In one instance, I had three full health points and suddenly died for no apparent reason.
It’s times like this where the temptation to turn off the game and walk away is strong. Honestly, I had a couple of times when I was ready to give up. But the game has an unavoidable “one more try” feel, driven by the need to experiment and throw vinyl records and playing cards into someone’s head across a room.
The game often toyed with this sense of obsession by proclaiming that I had beaten the game after a few levels. I was booted back to the main menu a few times with a message stating that I was done. All that remained was more of the same. Some stages also have big bold pop-up messages that warn you that there is nothing to strive for at the end. Somehow, the game manages to deliver everything it promises, and it pushing me away only made me want to play more.
Stuck in time
Perhaps the Superhot Team got a little carried away with toying with its players. The plot involves the rants from a player obsessed with having more, not unlike the actual player of Superhot: Mind Control Delete. Again, this is entertaining for far longer than one might think that it would be, and it’s partly because I wanted to see where the whole plot was headed. Then things really slow down towards the end, and not in the usual Superhot way.
One level is packed with so many stages that it becomes a total slog. Even with all my preferred enhancements, I could only get about halfway through it before some unknown occurrence killed my character off. It’s the ultimate test of skill and patience, and I suppose I didn’t have enough of either.
The level is a tipping point. Here, the game fully embraces being a bit too clever for its own good by trolling the player. By the time I finished the game for real(?), it left me pretty much Superhotted-out. Whatever spell Superhot: Mind Control Delete had on me was broken. I guess after getting more of everything, I had finally had enough. But I did thoroughly enjoy the journey.