Not even a month after the release of SpongeBob Rehydrated and we get another full-on remake of a classic from that same era. This time though, it is for Destroy All Humans!. As someone that played, yet never completed the original, it felt like the perfect time to dive right in.
Great-looking remake. Aesthetically, I pretty much have no complaints with Destroy All Humans!. They took the same goofy style that the game had going for it back in 2005 and basically just gave it a modern upgrade, even adding a bit of personality in the process. The textures are fine, the models are nice, and there’s a good amount of graphical options to change as well. Sure, it’s not gonna test your system or anything, but it looks fine for the kind of game it is and I applaud the devs for sticking close to the original here.
Add on top of that the level design too, as that is also something I quite enjoyed. You get these massive levels to explore filed with all sorts of little things to find. Whether that be the actual collectibles scattered about or the goofy renditions of real-world locations like the various monuments in Washington, D.C., there’s a lot to like about the different levels. Honestly, it’s kinda nostalgic in a way. The remake perfectly captures the charm that a lot of games from that era had going for it, both graphically and with regards to level design.
Fun and nostalgic gameplay. So the gameplay is at this interesting crossroads where the actual goal and design of each mission is simple, but the different mechanics and such actually have a decent amount of depth. You’re constantly unlocking new abilities, finding new uses for older abilities, and combining them all together to accomplish whatever task you’re presented with. This can be something simple like destroying a town fair or something a bit more complicated, but still relatively straightforward like guiding a nuke to its destination and eliminating obstacles along the way.
To complete these, you may need to disguise yourself as a human to infiltrate a base, read the minds of a bunch of soldiers to determine the location of something, anally probe a few of them to extract their brain stem, and then bust out your weaponry to annihilate all of them. The gameplay is all over the place like this and, while I won’t deny there are some problems (which I’ll get into later), it makes for a pretty fun overall experience. And again, this is yet another area where it felt like I was playing a time capsule, a callback to the wacky and fun game design that made games from that era so unique.
Cheesy comedy and entertaining story. Despite its age, one thing that hasn’t faded is the game’s sense of humor, and that is something perfectly captured here in the remake. Just as with the gameplay, the story is all over the place, but it does this in the best way possible. There’s the cheesy one-liners, the constant jab at American stereotypes, and the story developments that are so ridiculous that I couldn’t imagine them in any sort of serious game, yet they feel right at home here.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the story in Destroy All Humans! is the best parody of the Red Scare in all of video games. A bunch of radioactive glowing green cows? Probably the work of the commies. The game just ticks all of the right boxes there and that humor translates well into this remake, even more so when you combine it with the flair that the devs have added to the graphics and art.
Fluctuating mission quality. So the gameplay may be fun, but the actual quality of each mission can be hit-or-miss. You’ll go from a really cool mission that has you stealthily entering a town and taking control of the mayor to deliver a falsified speech to a simple “take out x objectives and return to your saucer” missions. I mean, the base gameplay is fine, but there’s only so much repetition one can handle with missions that fall into that latter category. And it definitely doesn’t help that pretty much all of the missions outside of the main story do exactly that.
On top of that though, sometimes you’ll get into a really cool story mission and then it’s over in like 10 minutes, ending just when it was getting interesting. It’s not every mission, but there’s definitely a sizable chunk that are just super short like this. And on the topic of difficulty, that is something that also fluctuates. Most missions are relatively easy, but you’ll get the occasional mission that really puts you on the spot and is far more challenging than the missions surrounding it. The game really lacks any sort of difficulty curve, instead just having these random spikes here and there.
Awful saucer gameplay. While most of your time will be spent on the ground zapping, probing, and whatnot, there are levels that will have you up in the air piloting a saucer instead. Usually, this is after you complete some objective on the ground, moving to the saucer to make destroying everything easier. The problem is that the saucer gameplay simply isn’t that good.
Part of this is due to the absolutely awful controls. Not only is the up and down movement of the saucer mapped to the up and down movement of your mouse, but the actual reticle on the screen cannot be moved vertically. So instead of having to position this reticle and shoot, you instead have to position the saucer by moving back and going up just to be able to hit whatever is right in front of you. It just feels awkward to control, especially given how smooth the movement and aiming is when on the ground.
That and the actual weaponry on the saucer is so limited that it really highlights the problem with the game’s ammo mechanic. To get more ammo, you have to transmute objects on the ground into it. This sounds simple enough, but it is a long and boring process and you don’t even get that much ammo per object. This effectively made any weapon on the saucer useless to me that wasn’t the constantly recharging laser, lest I wanted to spend a good minute or so going around collecting ammo.
Various technical issues. Unfortunately, the remake is not perfect. During my playthrough, I ran into a number of technical issues that made it more difficult to play. The most obvious of these would be the fps drops that seemed to be exclusive to the game’s last area. It’s kinda hard to tackle the boss while flying around quickly when the fps tanks after crossing that invisible line to load in the next area. That and I had a number of different physics issues, from objects getting stuck to objects and people not behaving properly when thrown.
In fact, I had a larger problem with the game’s psychokinesis. Normally, you right click and hold to pick up an object and let go to drop it. However, it didn’t always seem to register me letting go of my right click and it wasn’t uncommon for me to still be holding the object right in front of me until I right clicked again, at which point it would simply fall down. This made quickly picking up and throwing things a bit of a pain, as I would have to constantly correct myself when the game didn’t register my input properly.
It isn’t without its problems, but the Destroy All Humans! remake is a solid effort and worth a look for fans of the series. The gameplay is solid, the writing is great, and the upgraded aesthetic is definitely cool too. However, the remake also brings with it some problems from that original, including the hit-or-miss mission design and awful saucer gameplay. And that is on top of the various technical issues. Honestly, it kinda comes down to how nostalgic you are. I’m personally a fan of such games, so I’d give it a light recommendation, but if you’re not entirely on board, it may be worth passing or at least waiting for a sale of some sort.
You can buy Destroy All Humans! on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.