Too Human Demo

The game Too Human has been getting a lot of hype. The games creator, Denis Dyack, has reportedly been working on this game (in various forms) for 10 years – the first demo was for the original PlayStation at E3 in 1999. Over roughly the last six months, Denis has seemingly appeared on every videogames podcast or event that would have him to talk up his game. To be fair, he has (at least in his opinion) an uphill climb. He believes he is making a genre-busting action / rpg / ?? game with a revolutionary control scheme, somewhat akin to a stylized Diablo with revolutionary controls and camera, a feat that Hellgate: London (more or less) tried to accomplish, but failed at, and on a console, no less. The the forums, fanboys and haters of this game are both incredibly vocal either believing the game will be the second coming or the next Daikatana. Even though the game is a month from release, the downloadable demo came out on Xbox Live for the 360. I took some time to download the demo and play through it last night and have slightly mixed opinions. I will discuss a few important points of the game.

The graphics were generally nice, somewhat Mass Effect-ish (especially during cut-scenes). They are definitely 360 quality graphics. The game has a very stylized look, a pleasing variation of muted colors (caves) and colorful items and enemies. They are not the best graphics seen on an Xbox 360 game, but the are good.

The “revolutionary” camera often works well, it is just unusual to (largely) not able able to control the camera. After spending so many hours playing games where the right stick controls the camera, it is odd to use it for anything else. The game generally made the right decisions about camera angles, but occasionally the game just didn’t understand my intentions and fought me. For instance, I was trying to attack a large, difficult-ish enemy near the end of the demo. I wanted to attack from the top of a set of stairs (using guns), but once I got to the top of the stairs the camera would absolutely not face the enemy no matter how hard I tried to convince it otherwise. I worked around this by not fighting from the top of the stairs. Perhaps there was some “lock-on” button that I was missing? Anyway, generally it is nice to not have to babysit the camera but sometimes it is a pain.

The skill, weapon, and armor upgrade paths seem very promising. When playing RPG-ish games, I enjoy finding new weapons, armors, upgrading my skills, etc. and this game seems like it will have that in spades. My complaint with Mass Effect was it was tedious to make lots of little customizations to your weapons, etc. I can’t really say if this will be better, but I can hope. From what I have seem, the customization / advancement UI as just a touch unpolished (compared to in-game graphics), but easy to use. They have promised gazillions of fancy, unique items, so I look forward to finding those, assuming I play the whole game.

Finally, the meat of the game: control and gameplay. The demo is roughly an hour long, which is pretty long as game game demos often go, but they intentionally made it on the longish side so one could really get a feel for the controls. The game control is different from anything I have ever played before and that takes a touch of getting used to. The left stick moves your character and your right stick performs melee attacks, such as with your sword. The triggers shoot weapons. If you have played lots of console games, such as first or third person shooters, action games, or other RPGs such as Oblivion, your initial reaction is to move with the left stick (ok so far) shoot with the trigger (ok so far) and move the camera with the right stick — this is where it gets a bit awkward. Since first 3D games, we have been taught that the camera must be babied. This works well once you get used to it, but new players have a difficult time controlling both the action and the camera. Too Human believes the game can control the camera better than you can and that doing so will give you a more cinematic effect. Since the right stick no longer has to control the camera, you just press it toward the next enemy you want to attack. Initially this is a bit odd, but once you learn the timing you can use this to make some visually stunning and fun combo attacks, zipping all around the battle field and doling out pain at a dizzying pace. Me me, this fast paced action was a lot of fun. Instead of making every enemy harder to kill, they provide lots and lots of enemies to fight. If you tap the right stick twice quickly at an enemy, the enemy will be thrown into the air where you can use your guns against it. Overall, I am glad the demo was as long as it was. It took some time to really master the controls and to be able to tie all the pieces together. By the end of the hour I really felt comfortable playing the game and had a good idea why it was different from other games.

Will I buy the game? I haven’t decided yet. Yes, it was fun, but the camera did have the ocassional problems, there were some cue scene issues, and ocassionally it seemed like the game cut out of a scene faster than it should have, but I did enjoy the demo. It wasn’t as much of an OMG demo as Crackdown or BioShock, but few games are Crackdowns or Bioshocks. I anxiously await reviews from people who have played the whole game.

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