Stark, minimalist graphics. Time warping, freeze frame action. Glide past bullets, dance between enemies -- a ballet of epic destruction. The smash hit of 2016 is back, bigger and bolder. Welcome to Superhot: Mind Control Delete.
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The original Superhot, developed and published by a small, eponymous team, came out over 4 years ago -- initially on the PC and Mac, before working its way onto other platforms, and even into VR format. It started life as an entry into a competition (where developers would design and create a first person shooter in 7 days), before evolving into a successful Kickstarter project.
I really liked the design choices for the art and gameplay; the palette, consisting solely of shades of 3 colors, suited the overall theme of the game perfectly. With clear homage to The Matrix, the ability to slow time right down to a crawl by simply not moving (it snapped back full to normal the moment you carried out any action) opened up a refreshing new take on the FPS genre.
There were no health packs or ammunition, nobody to rescue, nothing to collect -- just you and those out to get you. One shot, one hit, would take you clean out, so you always had to be on your toes; sometimes this felt just a little unfair, since you always needed to get in a few punches before an enemy would go down.
The overall length of the game was short: I managed to complete it in just over a total of 8 hours but that was fine. The game was very much a one-trick pony and any longer would have dragged it out.
And now Superhot is back, after a 3 year stint in early access, as a standalone expansion: Mind Control Delete. So what's new and should you consider getting it?
The same, but not the same
On face value, it's more of the same intense action-strategy blast, and if you're a fan of the first title, we can cut to the chase right now: it's definitely worth buying. But if Superhot isn't something you've not played yet, I actually recommend skipping it, and getting this one instead.
Some of the subtle changes in the expansion are very much for the better. The first addition comes in the form of lives -- traditional hearts that disappear when you take a hit from anything. This might seem like it's making the gameplay far too easy, but the developers have countered this by ramping up the difficulty.
Some of the later levels will pitch you against an absolute wall of weapon-toting enemies, but the inclusion of lives evens the odds, and they certainly saved my neck more than once. After completing a stage, I found myself giving it another go, just to see if I could do it again without losing a life.
There seems to be a greater emphasis on planning your way through -- take your time (you've got enough of it, after all) and a solution will always prevail. Sometimes, sheer dumb luck will save the day, but you'll always be better off working out where everything and everyone is going to be.
The game's sequence of levels comes in the form of a map of 'nodes', where each one gets broken down in a series of randomly generated stages. And like the sequel to The Matrix, you've got upgrades now.
You can unlock what are called cores at various points in your progress, which get added to a list of hacks that you sometimes get after clearing a level. Occasionally, it's just a health boost or a weapon for the next round, but the best ones are an extra skill -- my absolute favorite is 'charge' and with it you become an unstoppable force. Oh, to have a third person replay camera!
Going all John Wick, ripping through the blood red bodies, while dipping in and out of bullet time, is ridiculously fun.
The developers have tidied up the interface, too -- I found the original's use of DOS-like graphics and commands a little grating after a while, but in Mind Control Delete, it's been given a few tweaks and polish. It's still just as bizarre as ever, mind.
And the storyline, for what it's worth, fits the game perfectly -- there's even a joke early on, reflecting on some of the criticism of Superhot's length. I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but the ending might feel like a kick in the teeth to some of you, but if you're a fan of the developers' sense of wry humor, then it won't be a problem.
The more you had, the more you wanted
For me, there's little about this game that's really worth criticizing. Should it have been a DLC? Maybe, but the price is very reasonable. No, it's not very long again, but it's judged just right and doesn't overstay its welcome.
I did find the last few levels and boss-style enemies to be pretty draining at times, and once I got through it all, I wasn't in any rush to load it up for another bash -- something I can say that about a large number of titles in my game collection, though.
The game ran really smooth at 4K resolution on my test PC (Core i7-9700K, 16 GB DDR4-3000, GeForce RTX 2080 Super) and a brief exploration of system scaling does suggest that it'll work well enough on a wide range of hardware combinations.
A modern laptop, with a discrete GPU, won't have any problems running it, but some integrated graphics processors might struggle. It's not a game that needs high fps values to be enjoyable, anyway.
If you've not experienced the joys of Superhot yet, then you really owe it to yourself to give it a try. Like so many people, I wanted more of the exquisite gameplay, but not as a simple endless mode or the like. I wanted to see where the development team could take their unique child and I wasn't disappointed.
Superhot: Mind Control Delete is out now, and can found on all the main digital stores. But of course, we must give first dibs to GOG. Not only does GOG saves you money, offering Superhot -- along many other great PC games -- for less than other stores, but they are also sponsoring our TechSpot Elite subscriptions.
You can now support TechSpot to get an ad-free experience plus a few other perks and discounts, including free copies of both the original Superhot AND Superhot: Mind Control Delete free of charge.