Two foes are are in front of me, both wielding weapons – one with a shotgun, one with a pistol. I charge forward to the guy with the pistol, punch the gun out of his hand, I turn ready to shoot the guy with the shotgun.
But then, I hear the heart-stopping crack of a machine gun behind me, I stay dead still, weighing up my options. How am I going to get out of this one? I put just the slightest amount of pressure on the Dualshock 4 thumbstick, turning as slowly as I can. I then see the hail of bullets heading my way at infinitesimal speed. I keep turning, then start to slowly step sideways. I watch as the bullets pass me by, like any Matrix film you’ve seen. As the machine gun firing foe reloads I throw my newly acquired weapon at him, he drops his gun in a daze, I grab it, turn quick and shoot the shotgun dude in the face. Safe. For now.
These epic tense-filed moments are happening in every level of SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete. The game leaves you exhausted but in the best possible way.
If you have been living in a cave for the past few years, Superhot is a 2017 game that uses time-bending witchcraft to help you clear out levels of gun-toting bad guys. It works like this – if you stand dead still, time doesn’t move. But as soon as you start moving so does the world around you, including the bad guys and the hundreds of bullets that they are firing at you. It’s bullet-time on steroids. It breathes new life into the FPS genre and this time control mechanic works brilliantly.
So pretty much out of nowhere a SUPERHOT sequel has arrived called Mind Control Delete. A sequel that is full to the brim of new features to keep your time-bending appetite sedated.
SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete has a story of sorts thats more substantial than the first game, but still a tad on the light side. You’re basically an assassin type individual who is stuck in a VR simulation. The order of the day is to dispatch a bunch of red foes to progress to the next level in the hope of eventually escaping this VR nightmare. The story does delve a little deeper into the themes that were touched on in the first game but that being said, it’s still a bit on the light side. There’s just enough here to live out your John Wick fantasies.
This VR world you’re trapped in is your sandbox playground. While the directive stays the same on each level, it’s up to you how you go about dispatching the many foes hellbent on taking you down. Throw a fire extinguisher at someone’s face or, rush an incoming foe, disarming them and using their own gun against them. Or just go full force unloading your clip at the first thing that moves. The scope for ingenuity is substantial and above all brilliant fun.
If you found the levels in the first game a little claustrophobic, the good news is that the levels in SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete are bigger and much more freeform than before. The linear puzzle-solving element of the first game, while still prevalent has faded in favour of a more full-on action type of affair. Although this is more frantic, it also feels a little more scrappy than the perfectly orchestrated scenes from the first game. This may disappoint some fans who enjoyed the enclosed nature of the first game, but for me personally the more open levels make Mind Control Delete much entertaining and replayable. However, as elements of these levels are procedurally generated and recycled often, you do get to play the same levels over and over. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the opportunities to dispatch enemies creatively on offer stops boredom setting in and allows you to approach the same level in plenty of different ways.
There are plenty of new elements in SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete which keeps things interesting, fresh, and somewhat more difficult. The enemies for example aren’t just your standard weapon-wielding cannon fodder anymore. In later levels you face foes that have red guns, this means that even if you kill them, you can’t grab their weapon. Once you have dispatched the bad guy in a shower of glass, the gun also shatters too. There are also white enemies with just one body part that’s damageable, say a leg or an arm. These guys need much more time taken to dispatch adding much more tension to the game play.
New enemy types are not the only addition in Mind Control Delete. There are also some new tactical elements that make this a Rogue-like shooter. As you progress through the game via your retro computer you can unlock some core skills which you can equip at the start of each level like teleportation to enemies or having extra health. Another new feature is the hacks that you can unlock over the course of the campaign, and they have game-changing consequences. At certain times during each level, you’ll be able to choose which of your unlocked hacks you will take with you through the level. Thrown objects explode, deflected bullets return to the shooter, start each section with a random gun, and so on. There are literally dozens of hacks available but you can only have up to three per level if you survive that long that is. As soon as death comes, all skills are reset and it’s back to the start you go. These new hacks are a genius addition to the game as it really allows players to customise their approach to each level. Couple that with the game map and level selection element and you have yourself a game with far more depth than you would have first thought.
There is nothing quite like SUPERHOT out there at the moment. Nothing gives you a greater satisfaction when you complete a level while in full balletic flow. The procedurally generated levels are perhaps not quite up to scratch with intricately human-designed levels but the time mechanic is as beautiful as ever. The gameplay is fun, frantic, and sometimes super tense. SUPERHOT Team has kept the core mechanics which made the first game such a success but improved it in every way.
I’m finding it hard to any major faults with this game but there are some niggles. For example, some of the enemies can have the worst aim at times. Either by accident or by design these random potshots take some of the edgy tension away. Either way, you’ll be thankful for some of these pockets of luck when you’re up against it, but that’s missing the point. Despite the game being based on A.I , the A.I in SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete is not always up to scratch. When in the heat of battle you would sometimes get a warning flash up saying “LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU” which is a really handy life-saver. However, sometimes the warning fails to appear resulting in a stab in the back. Also, the punching mechanics don’t always feel like they’re connecting. The distance you’re allowed to punch (and teleport charge) seems inconsistent. A flailing punch in mid-air you thought would hit nothing actually hits a foe slap bang in the chops. Conversely, when you feel you are close enough to dish out a harsh sentence of pain, the punches don’t connect. This can be annoying and will often end up in cheap deaths.
SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete is an exquisite game, that ticks all the boxes of what a sequel should be. I loved my time with this game with some playthroughs taking me into the wee small hours of the morning. (If you know me and how much I need sleep, this is quite the accomplishment) What this game does beautifully is condense all the flare and pageantry of a full-on FPS into a few minutes of intense bullet-time action which will leave you smiling from ear to ear.
SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete is launching on July 16th, 2020 on PS4 (review platform), Xbox One, PC, Mac and Linux. The game will be free for anyone who purchased the non-VR version of the original SUPERHOT before release date.
Developer: SUPERHOT Team
Publisher: SUPERHOT Team
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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