When the SUPERHOT Team first provided gamers with their ballet of destruction back in 2016, there was nothing else like it in the gaming scene. I mean, shooters were two-a-penny, but combining that action with a full on Matrix-style time-stop system? It blew the mind of many, myself included. Now though some four years later and with a VR experiment filling the gap, we see that same team providing a new SUPERHOT title, and this time round they are throwing in some roguelite elements too.
Yeah yeah, I know what you’re saying. Roguelite, ergh. But there’s no getting away from the fact that if there’s one genre aside from Battle Royale that has been super hot over the last few years, it’s the humble roguelite. And thankfully the way it has been implemented here with SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE ensures that things work once more. Yep, this is still SUPERHOT, and, yep, it’s still super hot. But it is slightly different.
There is only so much detail I can go into when describing SUPERHOT, for fear of ruining the illusion it brings. But just be safe in the knowledge that if you enjoyed what the SUPERHOT Team produced with either the original game, or the VR second title, you’re going to love absolutely everything about SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE.
The premise of the gameplay stays the same: work your way delicately through multiple levels, taking down as many red dudes as needed in order to progress to the next. These red foes are thankfully made of glass, and so one hit nearly always kills. And to make matters easier, they, and their bullets that are fired your way, only move when you move. Yep, your full motion of travel is directly linked to the rest of the world. Stand still, and you’re pretty much safe. Move an inch and you’re going to need eyes in the back of your head. And then some.
Set in some super minimalist world in which you find yourself hacking away into systems – that’s all you’re getting in terms of spoilers – the red dudes who come your way stand out like a sore thumb. Thankfully so too, as just one glance of their hue from the corner of your eye will hammer home the fact that trouble is on the way.
To dispatch your enemies it is a simple case of punching them to the ground, throwing objects at them, or taking aim and firing off a shot from a pistol, shotgun, rifle or nail gun-type thing. These will be found scattered around levels, or can be grabbed from the dudes themselves as you dish out some destruction and they drop the weapon at your feet. A swift grab, spin on the spot and shot off within the space of seconds is par for the course here with SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE. That feeling of ballet that was provided in the original game? Yep, it’s still here and is still as utterly engrossing.
Where MIND CONTROL DELETE changes from previous though is with the roguelite structure of the world – and the levels – you find yourself in. An overview of the full system structure allows you to dictate the next level you wish to take on (along with the chance to gather some of the weird narratives and memes), but from there you’ll find yourself thrown into a series of stages which have to be beaten in order for you to unlock further levels. Fall to the red light on any of these levels – and you will, because for the most part your health levels are low – and you’ll be thrust back to the start of the sequence you are in. This may seem like something that will frustrate many, with the constant need to partake in similar looking stages over and over, but each one plays out slightly differently to the last, with all over in a matter of minutes. Unless that is you decide to spend time with the unlockable endless mode which lets you play through waves on specific levels. Honestly, it’s here where you’ll really get to learn the ins and outs of what the likes of the Lab, the Casino, the Gym, the Prison and more can throw at you.
There are things to help you out on your quest though; thankfully too as you’ll need the help because latter stages are met with the red dudes coming at you much more ferociously with multiple weapon types, extra numbers in their ranks, and special abilities in tow – some can only be taken down by targeting a leg, arm or head, whilst others explode into shards of bullets upon impact. And then later still, things get even more hectic with an even greater variety of foe as progression is made.
Thankfully it is here where SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE offers up the chance for you to utilise special power-ups, known as ‘hacks’ in-game. These unlock as you complete stages and discover new abilities, letting you choose between specific random skills at certain points. You may find you need more health hearts to complete a sequence, you may be given the chance to start every stage with a katana or other random weapon in hand, or you may like to ensure that your bullets ricochet off walls towards their targets or that anything you throw explodes upon impact. There are even special ability drops that ensure headshots get strung together with ease, mixing up your strategy calls even more. Drop in the chance to decide upon special core abilities at the start of each section, providing constant amendments like additional health points, the opportunity to charge and smash into opponents, the option to morph into your foes or even one that sees your precious katana magically fly back to your hand after being thrown, and you’ll fast realise that the options found in SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE are pretty damn varied.
This ensures that rarely things get old, and even though everything is utterly familiar, both in terms of what is constantly delivered in this game and what SUPERHOT has done over the years, you’ll always want to take that next step, progressing slowly but surely with every movement. That old ‘just one more go’ motto is consistently felt here, and your time with SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE will see the minutes and hours fly on by.
It helps massively that the gameplay in SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE is easily on a par with those before it. The entire experience is buttery smooth, brilliantly delightful and extremely intense. That combination of Matrix-styled bullet-slowdown, time-manipulation and hardcore shooter worked first time around, and it still works here in 2020. In fact, there’s little to dislike about how SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE goes about things, even if you’re just taking in the experience in the hope that you can get your head around the weird background narrative that is constantly teased. Without that – and thankfully you don’t ever need to know what and why you’re shooting these red dudes if you don’t want to – the gameplay mechanics will certainly draw you in too.
There is also just something about the minimal visual style and the pounding SUPERHOT soundtrack that ensures SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE is a joy to spend time with. The audio is, without debate, stunning – the crash and destruction of stage elements and red dudes never gets old, whilst the levels set in the Disco really do let you feel the bass pumping. Combine all that with the very clever roguelite additions and the chance to play the game how you see fit, and it’s odds on that you’ll garner huge enjoyment here.
The only real downside to things is that perhaps SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE is not as original and enthralling as the game which kicked things off, with you pretty much knowing what is to come as the USP of the first game is duplicated. However, with a world that is four times the size of the original and including those roguelite elements, the slight criticism that could be labelled at that first game – the length – is certainly thrown out the window here. This ensures that on the whole SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE on Xbox One is another hugely impressive title from a team that have a hugely impressive history; a team that have been able to fully refine and sharpen a core experience to again produce something special. Once more, just like in 2016, you need to know just one thing about SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE – SUPERHOT really is super hot.