The Destroy All Humans! series has finally returned, and this time in the form of a remake completely based on the original release of 2005. Back then it was heralded for having some really intricate mechanics with an impressive destruction system and excellent voice acting for the time.
Whilst I would call the new game a remake rather than a remaster, it won’t be in the same veins of something like the recent Resident Evil reboots that have a more modernised structure. In this case, Destroy All Humans does little to change the story or setting of the original, with all dialogue and story arcs being pretty much the same.
As mentioned before, the original was widely acclaimed for having strong voice over due to a good talent behind it. So, whilst you can expect to hear back the original iconic voices of Richard Steven Horvitz as Pox and more, it does look like these have not been re-recorded in any way, and are the exact same lines from the original. Since these voices were so iconic for the time, with a great cast behind them, they still sound just as energetic and at times downright hilarious (intended) today.
This follows over to the cut-scenes as well, which are following the exact template of the old ones with modernised effects and camera work. The mission structure is quite similar as well, and you can expect to fight the same bosses that were present in the original game. However, despite all the similarities, I would like to reiterate that the game is more than just a simple remaster of the original with a new lick of paint, as the abilities, as well as the visual effects, have had some changes that make them much more attractive for today’s audience.
In fact, I would say that the game has by far some of, if not, the best VFX I have seen in videogames. Every effect ranging from electric beams, to the explosions and the saucer weapons look like they jumped right out of a high budget film. The explosions are thick and cloudy, the electricity arcs in a lethal manner and to top it all off, faithful to the original, your enemies are killed in imaginative ways depending on what weapon you use.
The video below features some gameplay from the game’s destructive challenge modes, and it is where you can really see all the amazing VFX come into play. A lot of people might think that VFX are only a tool for polish to make things look good. Whilst that might be true for films, Destroy All Human’s VFX prove that in videogames, it does a lot more than just make something look good, as here, it also makes everything play good, making the combat and weapons feel really powerful when you see the skeletons of the enemies flash in a cartoonish fashion when being electrocuted, or their bones slowly disintegrating when you vaporize them. It’s like watching a classic alien invasion film.
This of course lends itself well to the destruction feeling satisfying as well, as you can take down pretty much any structure that stands in your path, exploding it into a cloud of debris. It feels satisfying as rather than just sink the buildings to the ground like the original, you gradually see your damage setting them on fire before they blow up into a hundred pieces.
Still, I feel as if they could have made the destruction system even more memorable and meaningful than it already is by making it more procedural. Currently, most destruction seems to be scripted, with items getting destroyed in the same manner every time. I would have liked to see me punching holes in buildings based on where I hit, and even cut through the terrain and fences with my saucer’s rays.
Still, I think this is a great starting point, and that with the next generation of consoles, the team should definitely look into making destruction a bit more sandbox and procedural, but what’s available here still looks good. And it isn’t just the destruction that looks good due to the powerful VFX, but both Crypto and his Saucer are of a much more cinematic quality than ever before, as you can see small details such as power surges through Crypto’s head and interesting patterns of light on the saucer that really make their tech and biology more believable.
To be fair, the game has such a strong art-style that it is visually pleasing anyways, with strong colours and exaggerated caricatures of humans that really at times make the world look as if it was on the cover of a MAD magazine. I played the game at 1440p (2K) on my 65 inch TV, and whilst the game itself has no HDR, the simulated TV one still worked so well with the game’s sharp colour scheme, that every shade of colour popped out pleasingly. As the game is this vibrant, it will undoubtedly look beautiful on good monitors and TVs.
All the iconic abilities and weapons have made their return in the latest game as well, but due to the great VFX I have mentioned before, as well as more multi-tasking support, are able to stand out in a manner that wasn’t technically possible before. My favourite ability is easily Brain Extract that allows you to literally blow people’s head. Once you unlock a specific ability by spending furon points, you can have this effect transmit onto nearby people from a host like a disease. It was absolutely satisfying watching it slowly travel around a large group of enemies, dispensing them all in an escalating manner.
Abilities like this and the probe gun work especially well, and I would say more so than any other weapon because it feeds more into the upgrade gameplay loop since you get points that are used for upgrading from these. So it is not only fun using these due to exaggerated visual effects but also because they end up giving you meaningful progression, because of which, they end up being generally well-designed weapons. Whilst all other weapons definitely look and feel good, they don’t give you as much of a benefit to using them other than some satisfying visual effects mentioned before.
Still, overall the abilities and weapons feel fun, and their upgradable nature keeps them feeling fresh since the upgrades are more meaningful than just damage or capacity improvements. Sure, there are passive abilities like those available here as well, but a lot of the best ones here are active, and those that add an extra oomph to the weapon.
Disintegrator Ray is a prime example of this as speccing it out fully not only changes its play-style by making it more rapid firing, but also allows you to fire more projectiles at the same time, giving it a more crowd control benefit. These types of abilities made me want to grind for furon points, and the visual response from weapons made doing so fun rather than frustrating.
Since this is a like-to-like remake of the original game, along with its best part it does come with some frustrating ones as well due to the outdated nature of certain objectives or mechanics. Whilst the weapons and abilities seem to have been made more fun and easy to use, the mission structure does take a hit at times.
There was quite a few times where I just wanted to stop playing the game due to frustration from archaic mission structures. A lot of people did not enjoy escort or timed quests back then, nor do they enjoy it now, so it is a bit baffling to still see them in a game released this year. The final mech boss was particularly annoying, as it was basically an amped-up bullet sponge that threw everything it could at you, not giving you any room whatsoever to breathe and recover. And this was after I had unlocked most upgrades.
It really doesn’t help that the saucer doesn’t regenerate its shields on its own which is a weird contrast from the on-foot section where Crypto’s health does regenerate after a cool down. I can see that they might have done this to stop players cheesing some of the air fights by running away and recharging before coming back but I still did that anyways in the last fight as I stayed away most of the time just finding something to leech energy out of.
It was the same with stealth sections where getting caught out of your disguise meant an instant failure as the systems whilst impressive did not feel powerful enough to help make these sorts of structures more interesting in the way the developers might have intended. It is like they give you all these different interesting tools such as sabotage/follow/disguise but don’t let you use them cleverly to solve problems as much as they should. I would have much rather preferred to be able to strategise on the fly based on how the situation changes due to my failures or approach a mission objective in my own way.
Some people might find certain dialogues a little controversial as well since some of it is outdated and not reflective of the time today where we have understandably less tolerance for certain jokes. So, whilst these might feel a bit weird, credit should be given to them for preserving the original experience. Still, even despite that, it is mind-blowing that the game’s political parody is still completely relevant today, with certain comments still reflecting on our current politics, preventing the story from being completely outdated.
The best examples of these are the dialogue sections where you can choose to say something whilst disguised as a political figurehead to the public. Stuff like “denying the scientists” and “blaming others” option really made me think of some political leaders we have today and their choice of words. In that regard, impressively it is still a humorous but sad reflection of our current political society, which is even more de-motivating when you realise that a lot of these options were already present in the previous game.
One thing I would like to briefly mention as it might sway some people into buying this, is that this is a perfect game for completionist gamer types as there are a lot of challenges, unlockables, and optional mission objectives to complete. It is refreshing to be able to unlock skins by earning them rather than paying for them like the old times.
Overall, Destroy All Humans! is an impressive update to an iconic game where new technology has made the original features stand out in a way that wasn’t possible before. Whilst the game has brought along some outdated mechanics for all the relevant ones, this does feel like the definitive Destroy All Humans! experience that truly showcases Black Forest Games’ capability of delivering a big experience.
Black Forest has done a commendable job, and whoever is responsible for the VFX and particle work deserves a raise. However, that said I would like them to tackle more procedural destruction and sandbox approach with the tools that are given to us in order to make them more meaningful in the future. I am definitely excited about Destroy All Humans! future and fans of the original should definitely get this.
+ Stunning VFX Work + Humorous Storyline & Strong Voice-Cast + Imaginative Weapons Remastered For Modern Audience + Clever Political Parody That is Still Relevant Today + Meaningful Upgrades Change Weapons/Abilities Play-Style + Faithful Remake With High Polish