Lockdown measures have thrown the concept of time, or at least our perception of it, into turmoil, making now an interesting opportunity to return to the world of Superhot. The in-game clock of this first-person action game marches on short, staccato beats not too dissimilar from the rhythms of life we're all going through right now, and thanks to its new Mind Control Delete expansion, we've got new super hot challenges to work through.
Mind Control Delete originally began life as add-on DLC for Superhot in 2017, but developer Superhot Team is the first to admit that the project somewhat ran away with itself, and before they knew it, turned into a full-on standalone expansion that's five times the size of its predecessor. To its credit, the studio has remained committed to its promise to offer Mind Control Delete as a free update for players who already own Superhot, but the expansion can still be purchased separately for those who'd prefer to enjoy it on its own terms.
John Wick and 4D chess
And you absolutely can enjoy Superhot: Mind Control Delete on its own terms. Regardless of how you define this thing, it's basically more Superhot with some added perks. That central conceit, a brilliant mash-up of John Wick and 4D chess, is as delectable as ever, and while Superhot Team hasn't revised its core design tenets too drastically, new twists on the familiar gameplay are enough to sustain Mind Control Delete's extended runtime.
You can now gain access to special "hacks" as you run through the game's campaign, such as the power to charge towards enemies with a knockout punch or hijack their body entirely to avoid an incoming projectile. At first, these abilities can make Mind Control Delete's earlier levels feel a tad too easy, and those familiar with the game's rhythms (throw, whack, grab, shoot, throw, repeat) will likely feel overpowered and under-challenged to begin with.
Eventually, however, your enemies will start to adapt, with new types boasting immunities that make parts of their body invulnerable to attack, and others deploying new techniques like parries to keep you on your toes.
Superhot Team has also used Mind Control Delete as an opportunity to revise the way it structures a Superhot campaign. While the original game asked you to tackle each of its puzzle boxes individually, Mind Control Delete sees the player undertake "runs" of multiple stages, with only a few lives to make it through all of them without starting from the very beginning. It's a format that discourages using death as a learning tool to get a lay of the land, and instead pushes taking enemies out without thinking too hard about it.
The result is a more action-oriented experience that pivots away from the original Superhot's puzzle focus and further into standard FPS territory, focused more on sharpshooter skills over its predecessor's fascination with cleverly designed escape rooms. That will probably come as a disappointment to some, but the shift does at least provide plenty of opportunities to pull off some incredible gun-fu combos, all of which are particularly gratifying to watch back in real-time via the returning Replay cam tool.
Whether you're more partial to its developed ideas, or remain firmly of the opinion that OG Superhot can't be topped, Mind Control Delete's promise of more of the same is very much an easy sell as far as I'm concerned. That said, a few of the campaign's dull spots suggest that the series' time-only-moves-when-you-do mechanic is starting to run out of gas. This makes me wonder whether Superhot Team will consider moving onto something beyond its namesake as we head into the next generation (though I can imagine next-gen features like haptic feedback and 3D audio being a strong fit for Superhot's style of gameplay).
For now, however, Mind Control Delete is hardly an unwise investment. It's a perfect way to pass the time by grinding it to an abject halt, exercising supreme power over a reality that many of us are struggling with in this exhaustively overwrought year.