Destroy All Humans! was originally developed by Pandemic, which holds a special place in my mind, being a (partially) Australian development studio. While the studio has long been shut down, the games developed there are some of the best of the previous generation. Destroy All Humans! was certainly a much-loved game of its time, however, the IP has been dormant since 2009.
However, saviour of old properties, THQ Nordic, is resurrecting the original game with help from Black Forest Games (Fade to Silence). Recently, I had the chance to go hands-on with the opening of the remake and so far, it’s looking like a flawless recreation.
Set in the 1950s, at the height of UFO fever, Destroy All Humans! puts players in the boots of an alien invader, flipping the genre on its head. It’s pulpy goodness that pokes fun at 1950s sci-fi, G-Men and the notion of the good guys versus the bad guys.
Destroy All Humans!
The demo I played was the game’s first mission, with Crypto invading Turnipseed Farm. Right away, it’s clear that Black Forest Games and the Unreal Engine 4 are working all kinds of magic. The visuals are mind-blowing. Really. Destroy All Humans! now looks like an animated film. The level of detail is simply stunning.
Grass and trees sway and move in the wind, the suckers on Crypto’s head shrink and enlarge and everything has been given a tonne of love. Even the cows, which Crypto believes are the alpha species, look phenomenal. Comparing the original to this new version is like chalk and cheese, though it’s clear these are the same games.
Making this even more clear is that the remake uses the original voice acting. The lines are all the same ones you know and love from the original, with the same voice actors and the same sound. And why bother re-recording them when they’re perfect as is.
When you get control of Crypto after the opening, gorgeous and hilarious, cutscene, right away you notice how good it feels. Controlling Crypto is smooth, fast and fluid, just how it should be. However, Black Forest Games has streamlined some of the controls.
You’re now able to dash in any direction, quickly covering distance and making the game faster and more fun. Crypto’s abilities are mapped to the face buttons too, making them simple and intuitive to use.
The first thing you’ll do is read the minds of some cows and on learning, they aren’t in charge, use your PK to murder them. Sorry cows.
After that, you meet your first humans, the Turnipseeds and you get to use Crypto’s blaster. Firing streams of electricity, the Zap-o-Matic makes short work of the farmer and his farmhands. What’s great about this weapon in the remake is that when you use it, Crypto automatically locks on.
No more awkward manual aiming.
It really helps transform the remake into a modern game, rather than an old one with a new skin. It still retains its classic character and certainly still feels like the original Destroy All Humans! but it also feels fresh, new and modern.
Once the killing is complete, the harvesting can begin. Like the original, Crypto gains DNA from harvesting the brains of his victims. The demo didn’t grant access to any skill trees or upgrades, but when it’s released, you’ll need to be a regular brain farmer to make sure you take Crytpo to the max.
After you take care of Mrs Turnipseed and some snooping cops, the US Army arrives and its time to jump on board Crypto’s UFO. This opening mission is really a tutorial for the basic gameplay elements that make up Destroy All Humans! as well as an introduction to the story, humour and tone.
Once aboard your ship, you are a force to be reckoned with. Using the onboard lasers, you make short work of any and all objects, people and vehicles in your way. Thanks to the Unreal Engine, you also leave a scorched trail of earth and destruction.
Destroy All Humans! isn’t your standard remake or remaster. It’s a game we’ve not seen in 15 years and a series we’ve not seen in over a decade. It has a different feel to it, a snarky, sarcastic tone and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, something that’s sorely missing at the moment.
Crypto is a perfect anti-hero and foil and playing as a cranky alien, blasting away xenophobic humans while stealing their brains just feels right.
Black Forest Games has done tremendous work so far on transforming the visuals and yet, they’ve also managed to make the gameplay feel great too.
With no firm release date as yet, Destroy All Humans! is scheduled to be released in Q2 2020.
It will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
The author travelled to Sydney as a guest of the publisher