Too Much, Too Late
HIGH The satisfying throwing knife pick-up animation.
LOW Little variation in an overlong game.
WTF Undefeatable enemies!?
In the years I’ve written for GameCritics, I’ve awarded only one perfect score — just one single, flawless game I’ve championed above all else. The original SUPERHOT received a 10/10 from me, I would absolutely recommend it, and I have.
In fact, I trot it out for everyone when I have friends over. It doesn’t matter if the person is an elite World of Warcraft veteran, a Call of Duty multiplayer bro or someone who hasn’t played a game in years. SUPERHOT is a rare, fresh experience that feels like it transcends the medium – a perfect, truly original title without an ounce of fat on its bones… And don’t get me started on the VR version which, as far as I’m concerned, is a masterpiece killer app.
Somewhere after the vortex of SUPERHOT and the VR version, the developers squeaked out a new work called SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete on Steam. Despite being on my wishlist for years, I never picked it up because it was stuck in Early Access for what felt like an eternity, and I don’t want to pay for an unfinished game.
Now, Mind Control Delete is finally, officially launching. After four years since the original, what can the team bring to the table now? More SUPERHOT.
Mind Control Delete takes the bones of SUPERHOT, a puzzle-shooter in which time only moves when the player moves, and turns it into an arcade roguelite. Considering how airtight the original was, I can’t say I expected them to make another concise, fourth-wall breaking game, but Mind Control Delete is up-front about letting the player know it doesn’t have any story — it’s just one cluster of levels after another until the game ends.
What it adds to the original template is meager – new weapons, some new enemy types, new maps and hacks that let players upgrade specific things.
The roguelite aspect comes into play in its structure. Players move through a retro computer interface of branching nodes, and when they click on a node, a cluster of levels begins. Players get two lives, and each cluster usually contains between 5-8 levels. Sometimes players can select between two upgrades to apply to the character, and additional upgrades can be earned, but these upgrades only last for the current level cluster.
Some upgrades are entertaining, such as thrown items exploding upon impact or starting every level with a random gun. Other, sillier varieties include jumping on enemies to kill them, or bullets ricocheting off walls.
New enemy types include bots with certain limbs that must be struck to inflict damage, enemies whose guns shatter when they die, and the incredibly terrifying bots that explode into a flurry of bullets when destroyed. In late-game levels, some enemies spawn that can’t be killed, and I didn’t enjoy those one bit.
At its core, I found Mind Control Delete to feel like a warm, familiar blanket. I still pumped my fist in the air after particularly challenging levels and still found my palms sweating when I thought for sure I’d meet my demise, just like they did in SUPERHOT. Those are good feelings, but the problem with Mind Control Delete is that it’s too long and never gave me a reason to keep playing apart from the simple act of playing more.
I spent about nine hours with it altogether, and I would have been fine if it were half as long, especially when taking into account that the original lasted only about two hours.
Some flashes of brilliance pop up, like when familiar maps become distorted and bend as the player navigates through them, and an endgame challenge that I won’t spoil had me wishing there was an audience to witness my victory. Moments like these are few and far between – instead, players get an experience that repeats itself too often, and with little variation.
I lost count of the amount of times I gunned down red polygonal bots in a subway, a bank, a dojo, the same subway again, an office, a nightclub, and then that subway again until I felt numb. Turning what was a sharp, crafted experience into a roguelite that pieces premade sections together becomes an exercise in repetition, and after shooting a dozen red bots in a map I’d already cycled through twenty times, I just grew tired of it.
Mind Control Delete ultimately feels like an arcade-mode add-on that should’ve been included with the original release. Although it’s novel, I value the original’s audacity in presenting a brilliant idea without wasting any of my time. Mind Control Delete feels like the antithesis of that – it’s a bloated diversion that exists to provide more hours of gameplay without any larger purpose. It’s just more for the sake of more, and after my time with it, I’d say it’s actually too much, too late.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by SUPERHOT Team. It is currently available on PC, PS4 and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 9 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence. At its core, SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete features shooting, stabbing, punching and throwing items at enemies, but all enemies are red polygonal figures and there’s no blood or gore. I think this game is appropriate for all ages with parental supervision.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Mind Control Delete features no dialogue and no cutscenes. There is text on the screen in some areas, but it’s for navigating the interface and not to forward the story. Deaf or hard-of-hearing players won’t lose story context because there is no story. There are a few specific sound cues during gameplay that are important and might affect gameplay — some levels contain mine-like patches that explode when players get to close, and they beep faster as the player draws near. They can be seen and are bright red, but I generally relied on the sound cue over the visuals. Additionally, sometimes unkillable enemies will spawn in a level, and a very distinct sound cue rings when they spawn in. I always relied on this sound to alert me to these enemies because they’re difficult and must be avoided. Lastly, enemies’ gunshots from off-screen are important to hear in case I needed to spin around and see if bullets were flying my direction. There are no visual cues that show bullets from off-screen coming toward the player. Ultimately, I think Mind Control Delete will be more difficult for hard-of-hearing players but nowhere near impossible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. On PC, the only controller options are mouse/joystick sensitivity and inverting the Y-axis. There is no button-map for the game, but the controls are simplistic. On PC, with mouse and keyboard, the WASD keys move the player in the same way as most first-person games, the SPACE BAR is a jump button, the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON is shoot/attack and RIGHT MOUSE button throws an object. With a controller the layout is similar with the analogue sticks moving and turning the player the shoulder buttons attacking and throwing and the X(PS4) or A(XBO) jumping.
He has a Bachelor’s in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. He also has a personal blog (who doesn’t?) that he updates sporadically. He’s been writing for GameCritics.com since 2012 and has appeared on the podcast a handful of times.
If you want to dive deep, type his name into a Google Image search and you’ll most likely be treated to a scandalous picture of his Deus Ex tattoo. He also has a music background from 7 years on high school and college drumlines, and last but not least he’s dabbled in parkour. Don’t let those activities fool you about his ambition – he’s in his late 20s and still has no idea what he wants to do with his life.