I’m Kinglink and this week we’re doing a design review of SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete, with the bonus of being able to talk about the entire family of games here.
If you already own SUPERHOT before the release of SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete, on July 16, 2020, you already own a copy of Mind Control Delete, and you should check it out after this video.
SUPERHOT was a pretty good game from 2016. I enjoyed it quite a bit but if I had to give one complaint, it’s that it was a bit short. I liked it but I wanted more at the end of SUPERHOT. and yet at 25 dollars for the entire experience, I have to admit I felt it probably should have been longer. The good news was that a promise of free DLC, Mind Control Delete was made. This would be a rogue-lite mode with the same gameplay of the original. I was interested but it slipped off my radar.
Well, 2020 is here, stuck in the house, and suddenly Mind Control Delete gets dropped. It’s more SUPERHOT, which is exactly what I wanted, but I think Mind Control Delete was always the game SUPERHOT should have been and, thankfully, we can talk about both of them. We also have a third title to talk about here, but let’s start with these two games. I’ll be putting the name of the game in the upper left corner as it’s a bit hard to differentiate the two titles by just video.
So Mind Control Delete is a rogue-lite, and what that means is you get randomized levels with similar layouts. There are 32 maps in Mind Control Delete, but each time you play a map, it’s extremely randomized and additional pieces can modify the layout to the point that every run even at the same level will feel completely different.
Yet the more that I play Mind Control Delete, the more I come back to one fact that keeps hitting me in the face. Mind Control Delete isn’t just a simple First Person Shooter. Yes, you aim guns, shoot at enemies and it has the gimmick of time moves when you do. But rather than being an intense shooter, I find that my mind goes to a more analytical space. This feels closer to Portal, but I also see pieces of Baba Is You, even touches of Nethack is here. Yet to execute most of the moves I come up with requires some proficiency in the First Person Shooter genre.
But SUPERHOT is more of a puzzle game. Players won’t be able to mindlessly hulk out and attack enemies head-on for long. The number of enemies and how they will attack the player will change to the point that some level of tactics is needed. The main gameplay loop of time slowing down to the point of almost stopping when you aren’t moving is intended to give players far more time to react to enemies.
The gameplays change of the time moving when you do, and the move to a more tactical game is what has made SUPERHOT stand out in a genre that tries rather hard not to innovate. While everyone else is stuck with the generic military shooter, SUPERHOT has changed genres while still retaining what people care about in the FPS genre.
I think the developers have avoided selling both SUPERHOT and Mind Control Delete as a puzzle game because they feel it might harm sales, but it’s hard to play SUPERHOT without using those analytical skills. Puzzle games don’t need one solution per puzzle, there are two rogue-lite genres out there. There’s the action game, and what’s on-screen now. The turn-based combat of Nethack. Yeah, I’m sure I’ve lost some of you, so let’s quickly go back to the action. But the fact is in Nethack there are multiple ways to stay alive and win every encounter. Every loss in Nethack is because you made some mistakes. The same is true for SUPERHOT.
With that being said, I think there’s another piece that people rarely consider with SUPERHOT, and it’s one that Mind Control Delete has improved significantly. The opening of Mind Control Delete starts by showing the player very simple levels. The first hour of Mind Control Delete had me underwhelmed as I played through a series of short levels. I was a touch confused at this part, but the one clear thing is SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete has extremely polished game design and gameplay systems.
It’s simple to look at the screen and identify what matters, there are only three colors to consider. Black means something you can pick up, Red means target, and White means unable to interact with it. So you use the black objects to hit the red objects and win.
The weapons all feel great and even the ability to grab something next to the player and fling it feels satisfying even if it doesn’t do much damage. It pushes the player to experiment and try out new things. Sure, a throwing star may end up killing an enemy in a single hit, but surprisingly so will a record that the player can find and a palette that an artist might use.
Players will gravitate towards the stronger weapons, mostly the guns, melee weapons, and instant kills thrown items, but there are other options that are quite useful throughout the game. SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete reminds me a lot of how Hitman 2 gives the player almost unlimited options on how to tackle targets, and more than enough tools for the job, though I would say SUPERHOT’s interface is even better about this, and the limited level of interaction makes for a more high octane experience.
But these early levels while confusing feel polished and well designed, and it’s this level of design that helps to quickly teach the player what’s going on and then use that knowledge throughout the entire game.
Watch how an enemyuses a two-handed gun. They will run with it, then take both hands and place them on the gun, aim at the player, and eventually fire. Each movement here is very deliberate, but because much of the gameplay is about slowing down the time to make a sort of snap decision, these same motions are made by every single enemy using a two-handed gun. Numerous times I thought that an enemy was about to shoot, and realized he wasn’t because their left hand was not helping to aim. There’s also a moment where you can throw off the enemy’s ability to aim and I was able to use that effectively by monitoring the body language.
I went back to the original SUPERHOT and this is not how the original game worked. Enemies were far faster to fire, and used less deliberate motion. Even dodging bullets is harder. Adding in a cleaner attack cycle is critical to make Mind Control Delete work better. You’re going to be spending days playing the same levels over and over and that combat is at the core of the entire game, it needs to feel clean and rewarding to make everything in Mind Control Delete feel better.
SUPERHOT was about small contained and scripted encounters, whereas Mind Control Delete is more about randomized content, which can’t always be contained in the same way. As such, SUPERHOT had to evolve it’s core gameplay systems, and you can see the difference between the two games if you look closely.
The thing is I bring so much attention to these small mechanics here of the UI and interactions because everything in SUPERHOT is built on this. This sounds obvious but allow me to ask a different question, why do so many multiplayer games spend time and money on making a deathmatch mode of some sort, when they could get more interesting and unique modes such as the assault mode in Unreal Tournament.
I think the reason it’s done is that without a good deathmatch, other modes will suffer for it. If killing another player isn’t interesting, then doing other stuff while having to kill other players won’t make the core gameplay systems interesting.
This is something I think we did poorly on Saints Row 2. I worked on that game from beginning to end and did a decent amount of multiplayer gameplay programming as well. The thing is we made a fast deathmatch mode because “everyone has deathmatch” but poured most of our resources into the other multiplayer mode, Strong Arm, with the assumption that Strong Arm’s additional gameplay elements would balance out the weakness of the deathmatch.
I don’t think it works that way. If the core fundamental part of your game, whether it be deathmatch or just normal gameplay, isn’t exciting, you still can build a game around that, but you’re going to have a serious problem with the foundation that you’re building your game upon.
To get back to SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete, the good news is everything here is well polished, to the point that it makes the entire game an absolute joy to play through for hours on end. Just playing the same levels to try to beat them is interesting because players have the wealth of options, the great controls, and they can feel they have the agency to win, even if they fail.
SUPERHOT and Mind Control Delete are awesome, but let’s talk a small amount about the rogue-lite elements here and how Mind Control Delete does something a bit different. There are a lot of rogue-lites but almost everyone is based on a singular dungeon where the player has to play through a set of levels or encounters and try to win the entire dive in one go.
There’s a lot of variety in the genre but even when games have different levels or sets of enemies, they usually are done based on the single path progression. Mind Control Delete is more level based where players have to play through different sets of levels. You progress through different nodes with each set being another step of difficulty.
But there’s something great about SUPERHOT’s progression. When you reach certain milestones, Mind Control Delete starts to throw different enemies at you, but the enemies don’t just appear in every rotation. Each set of levels you tackle seems to have a specific enemy that will be mixed into the enemy rotation just for that set. There’s also difficulty based on how often enemies will spawn in, how often they are given weapons, and other factors.
It’s great to have a game that switches between their enemy types as it adds more variety to SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete. The type on the screen, where only one limb of their body can be targeted gives a whole new challenge, but they feel special when they appear because they aren’t always attacking the player in every set of levels.
A bonus of breaking up the super enemy types is that if one enemy just has your number and you struggle through him, you aren’t going to be thrown at him over and over again every chance the game has. This means enemies will rotate giving players different experiences and create a more interesting experience, rather than a grind against the same enemies.
At the same time, not everything is perfect here. Throughout Mind Control Delete players will earn different cores, these are the main abilities that the player gets. The player starts with a 3 life core instead of the usual two, but there are other powers. I’m sure each power will have a huge fan, but for me, the charge attack is easily my favorite power in the game as it can dodge through bullets and has a lot of great synergies. There is also a Hotswap, which lets you change bodies at a great distance, and the Recall ability, which lets you summon a katana, though I just don’t find that one as useful. Each core has a purpose.
If there’s one thing rogue-lites will have, it’s upgrades and synergies, and SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete is no stranger to this. In Mind Control Delete your upgrades are called simply “hacks”. As you progress through the set of levels you get offers of two hacks from your list of hacks at predefined points. The goal seems to be that by offering two different hacks, a critical choice will need to be made. At least that’s the idea.
Some choices have clear winners. Super Throw for instance which increases your throwing power never seems worth it. On the other hand, my favorite is Super Punch which will instantly kill any enemy you hit and I’ll pick that choice almost every time.
There are also a few late-game hacks that I’ll avoid naming here but they can be so overpowered to the point of breaking Mind Control Delete, or just utterly useless. Granted there will be patches and balances added over time, but I think there are clear winners of the hack contest even before someone considers the synergy of what they’re building towards.
The problem I have with the hacks is not that there are winners or loses, but collecting hacks are optional. Yet, there’s no way to disable a hack after you pick it up. If you don’t like Super Throw, it would be better to just never pick up that hack, but on the first playthrough in SUPERHOT, you are going to pick up some hacks that probably could have been left behind.
Honestly, hacks probably shouldn’t be optional, that would solve this issue in my mind, or if they are optional, there should be a way to disable some hacks so you can ensure you’re getting your favorite upgrades, but I’m sure speedrunners and pro players will choose only their favorite hacks on a second playthrough.
Also in that vein, one save file kind of sucks. SUPERHOT also had one save file, but there was a clear progression there, whereas Mind Control Delete has some choices that players may want to make differently. Nothing too much.
You know there’s one last issue I have with Mind Control Delete, there’s also this game.
If you have a VR unit, you need to invest in SUPERHOT VR. The original game was short, and I thought I’d say Superhot VR had the same problem. But dear god. SUPERHOT in VR is unbelievable. It’s the killer app for VR Headsets and honestly, It’s one of my favorite games. Now I’m not doing this game justice. I’m trying not to move my head too much to avoid making it uncomfortable for the viewer, but… well, time moves when you move, in VR, this is even more intense.
SUPERHOT VR is just incredible, and the problem is SUPERHOT VR broke me for the original game. SUPERHOT is great, but as I said, SUPERHOT VR is incredible and the reason it’s so good is because they reworked the entire game from the ground up to make the VR port.
This isn’t as simple as having the same rules, just giving players two hands changes a fundamental part of SUPERHOT, the fact that players can pick up two weapons is different, being able to reach out and punch someone is different, having the ability to shoot without looking is different. The inability to move changes a fundamental part of the game. And while someone could have just made a simple VR mode with these changes, the entire SUPERHOT VR is redesigned entirely. If that’s not enough, the player can just step out of the way of bullets, or hide behind barrels and shoot around them.
I don’t think there are words to explain how great SUPERHOT VR feels, but when I got my hands on this I realized this was something special. And the problem is, as great as Mind Control Delete has become, and how much of an upgrade it is from the original game… SUPERHOT VR is just that much better. Hopefully one day we’ll get another SUPERHOT VR title.
While SUPERHOT VR is still the king, I’m happy with Mind Control Delete as well, and I like the original SUPERHOT, though, there are a couple of things that nag me when playing that one, length, interface and the story especially, I found it a bit too pretentious, yet it’s still crazy innovative, and unique, though I think both the VR and Mind Control Delete give you better experiences in 2020, with both of them being worth a pickup.
That’s what I have for SUPERHOT I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. I enjoyed making it and playing through SUPERHOT Mind Control Delete even though I still probably have a little more of the game left to play, I’m having a blast doing it. 13/14 achievements if anyone wants to know where I am currently.
If you made it this far, thanks for watching, consider hitting the subscribe button and ringing the bell. Honestly, this video was a joy to make, I’m considering some minor changes with the release schedule, I’ll probably talk more about that shortly, but I’ll still be making videos, and we have the Humble Choice next weekend.
I’ll pop up a couple of videos if you want to check out more. I’ll leave it up to youtube to make the decision this week.
Until next time I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching.