For a game to be exceptional, it must balance all of its aspects. It has to be a perfect design object, because that’s what separates good art from bad art; What distinguishes good art from exceptional art is that you not only make sure that all of its parts work together in harmony, but you also manage to make something unique out of it. Something never seen before that feels larger than all of its parts, yet each of those parts feels like something irreplaceable. That’s why Humanity isn’t just a good video game, it’s an exceptional video game.
The game developed by tha ltd. is the first game from a studio that has so far been solely responsible for the creative work in the field of visual design. How they ultimately came to be humanity was thanks to their director’s interest in observing flocks of birds, which got him thinking about how some non-human intelligence – extraterrestrial, artificial, divine or whatever – might view our equally erratic, chaotic behavior could. , strange , but somehow beautiful and unpredictable, like a flock of birds.
This was the seed of the first version of Humanity, whose main programmer would lead to a Unity project competition, where among the members of the jury was a key figure in the video game industry: Tetsuya Mizuguchi. So the opportunity arose that we can talk about humanity today.
After that encounter, tha ltd. He ended up signing a collaboration agreement with Enhance, Mizuguchi’s current studio, without which they probably wouldn’t have achieved the level of glamor and notoriety that their debut had. Something to be thankful for, as Humanity is a game that could easily slip under the radar without the backing of a big company like Sony and a big studio like Enhance.
Speaking of the game itself, in Humanity we play a dog, a Shiba-Inu, who has been entrusted with a very special mission: to guide large crowds of people through labyrinthine environments so that they reach their destination unharmed. If we classify each of these phases as experiments of Lightspheres speaking to us and systematically refusing to answer our poor Shibas’ questions as to why we are conducting these experiments, we have only two choices: move forward and guide humanity, or to leave them to themselves. They knew that without a guide they would plunge into the void without even trying to avoid it. As a result, our decisions about what to do are quickly biased toward guiding humanity rather than abandoning it to its fate.
As a loveable Shiba-Inu with a particularly human consciousness, our goal is to guide this group of people through these trials while keeping them from killing themselves. In the style of the mythical lemmings but modernized, we will have a series of tools with which to give them orders to achieve this; The basic thing is to command them to jump or change direction when they reach a certain point and have them follow us wherever we go. The downside is that depending on the level, not all commands are available to us.
This is part of what humanity supports during its 12+ hour campaign. Each series of experiments, called sequences in the game, has one gimmick, and each of the levels contained in it, so-called experiments, has its special conditions. There are experiments that we must complete with a limited number of orders. In other cases, we can only give orders before people start moving, not when they have already started. In some cases three or four different orders are available, in others only one. Sometimes we have to press a button to open roads until they close, but for some buttons we have to keep them pressed so that they don’t go back to their previous state, and for others it’s one of the two previous types can act, this will be the case. We also require that we have a minimum number of people to activate. This way the game always feels fresh and different. No level feels like a copy of a previous level; There’s always a twist, a twist. Something else.
In Humanity we find a brilliant reinvention of the Tetris concept. Also several stealth missions inspired by Metal Gear Solid. Fight bosses that are puzzles and fight bosses that are puzzles bullet hell that could be from the NieR saga. And of course at least three different variations of the classic sokoban.
All of this also scales, of course, because in tha ltd. they’ve managed to avoid frustration by not putting up any kind of barriers for those who might feel overwhelmed by the difficulty of the puzzles. To complete each sequence we must obtain a minimum number of golden men, optional objectives of each experiment; Therefore, it is always easier to beat each experiment than to win each experiment by getting all or some of the golden men. But there’s a catch: we don’t have to get them all. Each sequence has several optional experiments, presented as branching branches that are much more difficult than normal and require finer and more intelligent use of the gimmick that particular sequence. This offers more content for those who want to get the most out of the game, but also offers more options for those who don’t connect to simpler puzzles but rather more complex click puzzles.
It also helps not to get stuck because the game has built-in help for those who fail a particular experiment. In the form of a video, the game explains step by step how to solve the level so that you never get stuck. This is welcomed as it would unofficially be found in YouTube guides as well, but it is a sign that the developers are considerate of the game’s accessibility.
All of this makes Humanity absolutely great in terms of design. There is nothing in it that could be improved without radically changing the basic structure of the game. And that is also influenced by his narrative.
Though it may not seem like it, humanity tells an extraordinary story about what makes us human and what it takes to understand who we are and why we act the way we do, and it’s through them playing style and its artistic design. There’s nothing we do throughout the game that doesn’t add small aspects to the portrait of humanity and the history that has lasted up to its current state, which humanity wants to show us, even if almost nothing is ever told about it it. explicitly, making this one of the most humane and narratively satisfying games not just of 2023, but probably in recent years – at least as far as major releases go.
Moreover, this is done without neglecting even a moment of comedy. With our poor Shiba-Inu, some of the spheres are all wrong, the way our humans fall off cliffs is hilarious, and a lot of the achievements revolve around us doing outrageous things like our poor humans/test subjects with dice to smash. . All of this goes to show that the comic effect of the game, which is widely exploited in its advertisements, isn’t the result of an accident or the eyes of the viewer: it’s something the studio brought about purely on purpose.
This intention is ultimately reflected in all aspects of the game, including the artistic one. With an aesthetic that’s heavily reminiscent of the Dreamcast’s best moments, as is the gameplay, it features a diorama style with a soft color palette and great use of light that makes it extremely easy to follow our humans, even when we’re browsing . A 3D space where different lines of people blend into each other and different planes intersect. This is really commendable considering how many elements and particles can concentrate on the screen, especially in the second half of the game.
To all this it should be added that the game has several unlockable customization options. This allows us to give our humans and spheres a more unique, if not comical, style, allowing us to further adapt the game, something that also makes some narrative sense, although it’s only understandable in the final sequence of the game is, even if it only seems so. It makes funny sense to trade our test subjects for three stacked bullets.
Therefore, it can be said that it does not fail at all. If anyone else is left wanting more, there’s an excellent level builder and the ability to download levels from the community, potentially extending the lifespan of humanity to infinity. It is a game that leaves nothing hanging, neither mechanically nor artistically and of course musically. All the songs accompany the action without hindering it, without being repetitive or tiring to listen to, without ceasing to be really good songs that make you want to keep listening outside of the context of the game and that on their own work like a good musical compositions. This rounds out a game that manages to embellish everything and achieve the holy grail of design: making all of its elements work like a single, well-oiled machine, but also making sense on their own, outside of the context of the whole , and that too , it makes sense to give the world a tool that can continue to generate content for that particular universe until they decide its value has been exhausted.
This is its creators’ greatest credit: Humanity is their first title, but in it they show a sensibility, a taste for design and an understanding of the video game that we can only get from legends with years of experience like Tetsuya Mizuguchi (who is associated with the project , but not yours). That makes it even more valuable, surprising and unique because it’s unlikely, if not impossible, that we won’t see another game like Humanity not this year but in the years to come. Humanity is unique. There is nothing better than humanity, even if based on countless pages. That’s why it would have been a crime to have missed it, because if there’s a game worth everyone playing and talking about this year, it’s the first game of the Ltd. This is humanity.