Unfortunately, no matter what character your disembodied self is currently controlling, movement is stiff and cumbersome. Every character moves in a robotic way that makes you feel disconnected from the action. You move around the battlefield slowly, but when dodging or running, you move with abrupt speed that feels inconsistent with your character’s abilities. The controls feel stilted and unnatural, but since all the characters seem bound by the same restrictions, you can still have some intense firefights. These mostly test your accuracy from behind cover and your ability to dodge incoming rockets, but once you get accustomed to the problematic controls, there is a certain amount of skill at play. Just don’t waste too much time with the melee attack. Landing the one-button combos is incredibly finicky, and if you take a human shield, make sure your enemies fill him with enough bullets to kill him. Otherwise, your only option is to release him and have a close-quarters shoot-out.
Mindjack’s movement awkwardness extends to the enemy AI, which aspires to competence. The best strategy your enemies can manage is shooting at you from behind cover, but it’s not rare to see them running around the battlefield nonsensically as if caught in some broken logic loop. They are fairly good shots, though, so if you occupy some other character, you still need to keep an eye on the two protagonists. A helpful healing ability can save them from incapacitation, but you won’t be able to use this skill as every character. If both protagonists go down simultaneously for 10 seconds, you fail the level and must start again.
Between the clumsy controls and your abundant opponents, Mindjack poses a decent challenge that can get much harder if you choose to let other players join your game. They can come in as allies, but more often than not they enter as invading enemies and make things significantly tougher. Up to six players can be in the same match, though this flexibility can result in some frustratingly lopsided contests unless you limit the number of players that may join. Getting your progress impeded can be vexing, but it can be more satisfying to conquer human enemies than the AI, and if your match is unbalanced, it’s easy to find one that isn’t or just shut out the invaders entirely. Fighting to spoil someone’s progress has a dastardly appeal, and even if you lose during a certain scenario, the next one brings a change of scene and new characters to mindhack.
Floating drones with guns are good. Floating drones with rockets are better.
Yet even the thrill of being the bad guy dulls before too long because Mindjack’s gameplay mechanics are so inelegant. It’s hard to enjoy a game when you can’t move the way you want to move, and beyond the cool premise and intriguing mindhacking ability, Mindjack doesn’t do you any favors. Whether it’s your friendly AI parking itself in your gunsights, or the dull bosses that can barely muster the energy to dodge your attacks, every part of this game is tainted. Mindjack does have a few bright spots, but they are smothered beneath the weight of the awkward controls and squandered potential.