I missed out on Destroy All Humans! the first time around. Before playing the 2020 remake from THQ Nordic and Black Forest Games, all I knew about Destroy All Humans! was it was the game that let you use an anal probe on humans.
You still can by the way.
Originally developed by Aussie studio Pandemic, and released in 2005, Destroy All Humans! is quite an interesting take on the action-adventure, platforming genre. Few games spring to mind which has a protagonist who isn’t on humanity’s side.
Destroy All Humans! Review
Sure, there are plenty of games in which you play as a non-human, but there aren’t many I can think of which cast humans as ‘the enemy.’ Destroy All Humans! does. In fact, it relishes putting players in the cloned boots of Crypto-137 and letting them loose on the, mostly, harmless “monkeys”; as Crypto would say.
It’s a genuinely interesting idea. Playing as an invading alien force, hell-bent on taking over earth is novel, unique and a far cry from the plethora of other games on store shelves. In addition to being an oddity as a game, Destroy All Humans! also pays delicious homage to Atomic Age Hollywood sci-fi films like Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Destroy All Humans! also seems to be inspired by Mars Attacks!, right down to the exclamation point.
Anyhow, Destroy All Humans! does away with the blueprint for making action-adventure games, casts humanity as the baddies and puts conquering the earth on top of the agenda. Brought to earth by the crashlanding of Crypto-136, Pox, your not so friendly commander, lays the situation out for Crypto-137. Many years ago, the Furons arrived on earth and got busy with the primitive humans. Thus, all of humanity carries some Furon DNA which is needed by the alien race to fix their degrading clone DNA and continue to dominate and rule the galaxy.
It’s just the kind of B-Grade nonsense that is a perfect fit for Destroy All Humans’! style and tone.
Naturally, things get off to a slow start. Rather than fly directly to the crash site, Crypto winds up in bum fuck nowhere, reading cows’ minds and messing with the inbred locals. As the story progresses, he makes his way across the USA, uncovering conspiracies, enslaving humanity and cracking wise the entire time.
Playing on the well known Second Red Scare and McCarthyism, everything Crypto does is blamed on ‘Commies.’ Whether its irradiated cattle, abductions, anal probing, murder, theft of human brains and everything else you can get up to, it’s all the fault of those damn reds.
It’s actually quite funny to listen to the dialogue from NPCs as you roam around causing wanton destruction and blowing shit up. Some will scream about seeing an alien or little green men but more, many more, in fact, will say something or other about communists or the Russians. Despite being released 15-years ago, Destroy All Humans! seems to perfectly capture America’s current paranoia and intense focus on both “aliens” and Russia. It also hits on the notion that Americans are too busy worrying about the concocted stories of their government to see what’s really going on right in front of them.
I didn’t expect to find such blistering social satire in a remake of a 15-year old game about an alien invasion, but here we are.
When it comes to gameplay, it’s obvious Destroy All Humans! is a remake. Not that the gameplay is bad, it’s just very clearly of its time. Crypto starts with limited access to gadgets and weapons and unlocks a massive arsenal over the course of the game. So while he can read minds, use telekinesis, zap enemies and use a jetpack in the beginning, he eventually has a huge range of toys at his disposal.
The anal probe is a classic alien tool and it makes a return here, despite a similar weapon causing Saints Row to be refused classification back in the day.
Switching weapons and using a variety of attacks keeps things entertaining. However, Destroy All Humans! is not a difficult game so after a while, I was able to evade attackers or defeat them all with a well-placed explosive. The game uses a “Wanted” system, similar to GTA’s or any game with progressive degrees of opposing force based on your actions. The more naughty stuff you do, the more attention you’ll draw and the more opposition you’ll come up against. There are four levels but in reality, it’s pretty easy to stay alive, murder the baddies and stay out of their way.
For the most part, having to deal with soldiers, police or the Men in Black-esque ‘Majestic” agents was more a nuisance than a challenge. Thankfully, levels are incredibly short, by today’s standards. This is a good and bad thing. It’s good because you can blast through the story and feel like you’re making great progress.
It’s bad because you’ll spend an awful amount of time staring at menus, loading screens and the like. There are only six levels in the game, with missions taking place across each of them a number of times. If Black Forest Games had have combined a few of the smaller ones, it could have made the flow and pace of the game feel smoother.
While Destory All Humans! feels a little dated and certainly plays like a game from a previous generation, the gameplay is still good and rock-solid enough for anyone playing it to have a genuinely good time. It’s a funny game with some great one-liners and decent voice acting, though the choice to reuse the original recordings shows. It’s not terrible, but the audio quality of dialogue is uniformly lacking throughout the campaign.
Elsewhere, the visuals may not be breathtaking but they do evoke a perfect caricature of Norman Rockwell Americana, the heady post WW2 boom and the notion that America can do no wrong. Destroy All Humans! is bright and colourful, something that’s needed to cut through the doom and gloom of late.
Gaming is a great way to escape and relax, to forget your troubles for a while and stop thinking about how long you’ve been stuck inside your house for while lockdowns persist. Destroy All Humans! is a perfect escape from reality. Playing as Crypto, who wants nothing more than to subjugate all mankind, create some mayhem and blow some stuff up is the right guy…err Furon to help facilitate a short break from your day to day.
If nothing else, jumping in his saucer and decimating an entire town can be quite cathartic. Or is that just me?
Destroy All Humans! was reviewed on PS4 using a digital copy provided by the publisher.