Somewhere between a first person shooter and a puzzle game, Superhot basically created a genre all of its own. Time moving only when you do allows you to dodge bullets, punch enemies, and throw objects at a speed rivalled only by an enraged John Wick, resulting in real time replays that would fit in well in one of his films.
Since the original Superhot and its VR release, players looking for more of its slow motion chaos have been out of luck, as there simply isn’t anything else quite like it. It is, after all, the most innovative shooter in years.
Those players will no doubt be glad to hear about Mind Control Delete – a new game in the series that’s free or discounted for existing owners of the original game, which swaps out the story focus of the original game with something a little more open. You begin by choosing a node from a grid-based map and then play through a series of levels, after which you will have completed the node and move on to the next.
Unlike the original game, where one hit meant death, you now lose a heart when hit and only die when you run out. Level design has also changed, so while each level had its own map before and enemies spawned in specific places, the maps and enemy placement are now randomised each time. As a result, it feels less like the puzzles of the previous game and more like an action game. How you feel about this will be down to personal taste, but it’s hard to deny that it comes with some benefits.
The main benefit comes between the levels, where you will occasionally get to pick a hack. Hacks can be as simple as replenishing your hearts, but can also be significant modifiers to the game, ranging from reducing the cooldown between your shots to causing thrown objects to explode on impact. With the relevant hacks, you can throw knives and katanas right through enemies, jump on enemies to kill them, or increase the power of your punches. You’ll begin with a few and unlock more as you find them on the level select grid.
If hacks are where you tailor the game to suit a playstyle, cores are where you choose one. You begin with a core that gives you three hearts instead of two, but you’ll soon find different cores that grant abilities in place of that extra heart. The ability to charge towards an enemy and punch them is an early one, but my favourite is beginning with a katana that you can recall after you’ve thrown it. Cores are powerful and whichever one you choose can be further complemented by hacks. Combine the katana recall core with a hack that makes the blade bounce between enemies on its way back to you, and you’ll feel almost unstoppable!
There is a wealth of new items and weapons with which to murder and maim. A railgun, throwable knives and pencils, wooden boards with nails through it; there’s a lot of new variety to what you’ll be hitting enemies with, though the railgun is the only new firearm. The katana also now deflects bullets back at the shooter, which is as cool as it is ludicrous, especially when combined with the hack that reflects all bullets back to their respective shooters when you hit just one of them.
As empowered as you now are, enemies also have a few new tricks. Those holding melee weapons can block thrown objects, whilst those with swords can even block bullets. Others have just a single highlighted weak spot in red, which could be preferable the the enemies that explode into a rain of bullets when they die. These encourage different approaches to take care of them, helping to keep the minute to minute gameplay as varied as possible.
All of these additions combine into what is basically a playground for slow motion combat. When you deflect a bullet back at an attacker, throw your sword through two others, grab one of their shotguns out of the air and blow three other enemies away, only to pick up a pencil and throw it through the skull of the one remaining you can’t help but feel like the protagonist in an action movie, especially whilst watching the replay at the end. It’s the best Superhot experience to date.
They also come with a price, though. You forego the bespoke levels and puzzles of the original game, with the reuse of levels in Mind Control Delete starting to feel repetitive. The upshot of having randomised levels and enemy placements is that there is more replay value in restarting to a node and finding different types of enemies coming from different locations. There are still plenty of maps in the game and not being able to choose which ones you are playing on should ensure you don’t grow too tired of any single one too quickly.
Every node is self-contained, once you complete it and start another, you start from scratch and gather new hacks, which feels a bit restrained. You’ll also unlock an endless mode where you can choose a new hack after every few waves, which really lets you take down an army of enemies, where the main levels end after you’ve killed a certain amount of them. My highest is 320 so far.
Unfortunately, the game also has a few technical issues, at least on PS4 Pro. There are a few frame rate problems, both stuttering, which is quite rare, and an occasional freeze that only lasts for a second, but can result in an unfair death as you suddenly stop, then move a few inches all at once. There’s also a rare bug where some enemies are completely invisible, which is difficult enough when all you can see is their gun floating in the air, and virtually impossible when they’re trying to punch you as you can’t see them at all. It can be fixed by closing and restarting the game, but that shouldn’t be necessary.