Game name: Destroy All Humans!
Release date: July 28, 2020
Available on: Steam
Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
I’ll freely admit it, the original Destroy All Humans! is one of my all time guilty pleasures. There’s something cathartic in embodying a 1950’s stereotype of alien invader and laying waste to puny humans without a care in the world. Imagine my surprise (and joy) when I heard that THQ Nordic was going to publish a faithful remake of this Pandemic Studios classic this year. I HAD to get my hands on the game, and that’s why here I am, letting you know what I thought about this Black Forest Games/THQ Nordic collaboration.
The first thing that hit me when I fired up the game was how much prettier everything looked. The original game wasn’t exactly cutting edge, but it worked well anyway, because it wasn’t the kind of title that takes itself seriously, so the somewhat dated graphics were more charming than anything else (think Deadly Premonition, but running at playable frame-rates and with far less bugs). This remake, however, looks a lot more like a current generation release, and if that wasn’t enough, the team at Black Forest Games chose a genuinely excellent art style that perfectly fits the 1950’s B-movie feeling of the game.
So, what else is new? Besides a very noticeable new coat of paint, this remake features a bunch of quality of life enhancements designed to bring a 2005 game up to 2020 standards (mostly). This means that, while the basic flow of the game remains unchanged, the controls have been updated, and our character can now use different abilities at the same time he’s firing his weapon, something that you’ll agree with me that it’s a very important update, if you played the original. Oh, and there’s a brand new mission that was cut from the 2005 release.
Speaking of abilities, all the favorites return, and look and feel better than ever. Our hero Crypto can use telekinesis to move objects with his mind, Holobob to become a facsimile of a human in order to infiltrate highly guarded areas without raising suspicion, mind-wipe guards, force humans to follow him and do his bidding, and other niceties (such as popping out their brains and scooping them up to upgrade our arsenal). Playing with all of these abilities never gets old, and as I’ve said before, it’s a lot easier to manage than it ever was in the original game.
If mind powers aren’t your game, then you’ll be happy to learn that Crypto’s superior Furon technology is as good as you might have remembered. Our little grey man can jetpack around the place, zap people with an electric ray, turn them into dust with a disintegrator ray, anal probe them, and blow them up with a big Ion Detonator. Doesn’t sound like much? I’d disagree, but if that’s your line, then I’d also like to point out that our little Furon’s arsenal can be upgraded with all sorts of interesting perks (even letting us surf around the place with the jetpack, for instance). Believe me when I say that by the end of the game, my Crypto was a veritable force of nature, spitting out rays, evading rockets, sending them back the way they came, and transmogrifying tanks into ammunition for his Ion Detonator.
Of course, a big arsenal is nice, but doesn’t mean much if we don’t get a chance to use it. Thankfully, Destroy All Humans! is all about using our weapons and abilities, and while the mission design often leaves a lot to be desired (it’s one of the few parts of the game that weren’t updated in this remake), I can’t say that I didn’t have fun blowing up helpless humans and moving from set piece to set piece. Most missions involve a relatively short stealth sequence, followed by skirmishes with the local humans, short platforming segments, or all out chases. From time to time, the game breaks out the big guns and lets us control Crypto’s flying saucer, blowing up houses like there’s no tomorrow, and generally being a nuisance for the poor Army boys that want nothing more than to bring down what they perceive as a Communist threat to their American way of life.
Once we’ve cleared a mission, we’ll be able to return to the play area where it took place, and engage in several types of challenges (that will unlock gradually as we progress in the game’s campaign), or just zip around the place, causing mayhem, scooping up brains, or finding hidden items that will reward us with upgrade points that can be spent either upgrading Crypto’s arsenal, or his flying saucer.
As expected from a game set in the 1950’s, there’s tons of references to the Cold War, and the writers did a pretty good job with the constant barrage of jokes that bombard the player, even if some of them are a bit outdated nowadays. Of course, while we are talking about jokes and writing, we should take a moment to highlight the vocal performances of the two main characters, Crypto and Orthopox, since the actors playing them (J. Grant Albrecht and Richard Horvitz) did a marvellous job. Crypto sounds like Jack Nicholson at his craziest, and Orthopox is always majestic and aristocratic, even when sending us to do the most unbelievable things. This is another aspect that didn’t get an update in the remake, and I’m very glad that this is the case, because I can’t see anyone else pulling off performances of this caliber for this kind of game.
Going back to the gameplay, the one part that I am not glad that wasn’t updated is the stealth, which can be quite grating, as it’s often non-optional, and it usually forces the player to follow a rigid path, doing specific actions with no room to improvise. I am aware that this is how it was in the original game, but honestly, I feel that this remake could have taken a page out of the Resident Evil remake book, and reworked the stealth segments entirely. Missions failing instantly because of finicky and under-cooked gameplay mechanics will never be fun (though thankfully there are checkpoints you can fall back to when it happens).
Other than that, I don’t have many complaints about Black Forest Games‘ job here. Destroy All Humans! (2020) is a faithful remake that captures the joy of the 2005 original while at the same time looking and feeling like a modern game. If you are a fan of Pandemic Studios‘ output, then I’d say that you owe it to yourself to pick this gem up, as it’s a perfect tribute to the kind of games they used to make.
8.5/10 – Great.