Too Human has had a lengthy process in development, 10 years in fact. Swapping consoles more than you change your underwear it’s been 10 years of hectic work for the Canadian developers – Silicon Knights. Denis Dyack, the outspoken “brains” behind the game, has been hyping this game up to be the next Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, with two more Too Human instalments on the way (perhaps called Too Human Too and Too Human: Too Much Human?). So, does Too Human actually live up to all the hype it has caused over the years?
The answer, in short, is not at all. But for the sake of my review needing to be more than an introduction and 8 words I need to tell you why it does not live up to the hype, and why I felt the need to smash my controller in frustration and anger at several points. Too Human looks OK on the surface; a standard dungeon crawling, Diablo-esque hack ‘n’ slash. At its core it is just that. That’s were Too Human’s first flaw comes into play. It’s just not original – we’ve seen it all before. The loot system, the dungeons that never seem to end, skill trees – none of it is new. And if you look deeper into the game, the more significant flaws really start to rear their ugly heads.
Too Human is a Sci-Fi/Norse mythology hybrid story. It is relatively interesting, but it doesn’t really develop throughout the game. However, it is the first in a trilogy, so maybe the story will develop more throughout. You play as a Norse god named Baldur, a total badass whose mantra must be “kick ass, ask questions later.” Throughout the game, you track down a group of machines who are starting to feed on humans. In the meantime, the Aesir, a group of Gods which Baldur is a part of, are using cybernetics to enhance themselves. It’s a clever little plot point that shows the machines are trying to be more human and the humans trying to be more like machines, but it doesn’t really expand beyond that, which is a huge shame.
From the beginning you first choose which class you want to play as. These include a healer, a melee expert or an all rounder. You’re best off picking the all rounder since the other classes don’t really differ in any major way, other than the Bioengineer can heal himself. You then proceed to hack, slash, loot and upgrade throughout the game until you reach another group of enemies where you then simply rinse and repeat. And this is where the problems start to show. The absurd control scheme, the non-existent camera control, repetitive combat, run of the mill sound effects and bland environments make Too Human an experience that is more frustrating than fun.
Let me get the positives out of the way first. The game can be fun, when it wants to be. Playing for about 30 minutes gives you the satisfaction that any hack and slash does. Sliding around the halls, throwing enemies into the air, jumping up to slash them some more or shooting them from the ground. Either way it is fun. The loot system is great, if a little confusing at first. You can make Baldur look like a powerful God in no time at all, but that too has its downsides, but we’ll go into that later. As with many Silicon Knights games, the voice acting is top notch, delivering the right amount of emotion to each character. Some of the level design is pretty good too, mixing futuristic tech with ancient Norse monuments. I also quite liked the cyberspace areas dotted around the levels in which you are transported to another world in which to solve puzzles in the real world. It was a nice change of pace from the hacking and slashing, although the puzzles weren’t very…puzzling.
The co-op side of things is pretty good too. It lets you and a friend fight through the hordes of enemies together, pulling off great combos and just causing havoc. Overall, Too Human feels like it should be a co-op game first and foremost because the single player just feels so lacklustre.
Sadly, under this blanket of positives there is a mound of problems, and it is very unfortunate, because Too Human is a game that “could’ve been.” There are some many good ideas in this game that are just pulled off so badly it is disappointing to see them all go to waste.
Let me start with the control scheme. My main gripe with this is that the melee attacks are mapped to the right thumb-stick. The first problem with this is that there is no way to control the camera during the game. You let the game decide when to move the camera for you. I hate having no control over the camera, and I’m sure many other gamers agree with me. Especially when I get stuck against a wall and I am unable to see what the heck is going on, because my camera is pointing elsewhere. My second gripe is how unresponsive the right thumb-stick actually is. There are times when I will find Baldur flailing into thin air, instead of hitting the enemy stood directly in front of him. There are other times where Baldur will just stand in front of the enemy, while I push the thumb-stick towards the enemy while screaming at TV to do what I want it to. That, to me, signifies poor controls.
My next problem is the feeling of déjà vu I get while playing Too Human. Every hall and every enemy that I fight looks exactly the same, with a few big trolls thrown into the mix to spice things up. This, along with the hack and slash nature of the game, makes it feel so overly repetitive it gets boring very quickly. At least Prince Caspian, which I reviewed a while back, had nice set pieces and a few different enemies to make it less boring.
Speaking of repetitive, the game features a 15 second un-skippable cutscene every time you die, while you watch a Valkyrie take your body away. This is quite good…the first 3 times you see it. After the 56th death, which is frustrating in itself, it just gets even more frustrating when that damn Valkyrie comes down. Take your sweet time why don’t you?!
I mentioned earlier about my problem with the loot system. Well here it is. It’s too easy to power yourself up. I mean way too easy. You get one form of armour (that all have ridiculous names like Helm of Precipitation Squid) and then immediately afterwards you’ll pickup another better piece of armour. Then more problems arise. You have to level up to use certain weapons, as per usual, but the enemies level up with you, so once you can use that weapon it doesn’t make much of a difference.
In conclusion, Too Human feels unfinished and broken. After 10 years in development, you’d think that maybe it would have a lot less bugs and problems that it actually does. Unfortunately that’s not true. Too Human is packed full off good ideas, but Silicon Knights have pretty much made a mess of those ideas – which is a terrible shame. I played through the game thinking, “If only they had done this right,” or, “If only they could have done that”. I really suggest you leave this game alone. If you are a hardcore Diablo lover, maybe pick it up to rent or buy it in a few years time. But for everyone else there are just too many flaws to make this game a fun and interesting experience.