Destroy All Humans on the Playstation 4 creates an entertaining sandbox for destruction that’s still intensely satisfying 15 years after its initial release back in May of 2005. Black Forest Games have completely outdone themselves on breathing new life into this high-fidelity remake of the original by the same name. Much like the game’s predecessor, the story purposefully plays out as a B-grade sci-fi movie set in the late 1950s. It’s playfully inspired by the golden age of terrible sci-fi movies where the plot is completely crazy and absolutely hilarious. The game constantly pokes fun at how paranoid the general American was during this time in history due to emerging propaganda around alien conspiracies and the Cold War. Out of this context, a very engaging yet cheesy plot slowly begins to unravel.
Enter your anti-hero and main character – a temperamental, short-fused Furon soldier named, Cryptosporidium-137 (better known as Crypto). Your mission is to ravenously harvest human brain stems as they contain traces of valuable Furon DNA that can help your race resume its reproductive process that’s facilitated via cloning. (You learn that the Furon species can’t reproduce due to a general lack of genitalia.) This task of taking human brain stems does not come easy, however. As it turns out earthlings aren’t as easily separated from their brains as your mob-boss-ish overlord, Pox initially planned. Over the course of the story, you are met with resistance from a shady government organization called, “Majestic” (think of them as diabolical versions of the Men in Black), and many confrontations against them follow shortly after. Eventually, the story twists into something even more nefarious, as this shadowy agency vies for control of America and tries to cover-up and eliminate you, the incoming alien threat. Despite the ridiculous story arc, the game embraces the absurdity rather well.
Destroy All Humans is a standard third-person campaign shooter that spans across six different maps. The missions themselves essentially consist of two types of gameplay: stealth and action. The stealth sections are fairly one-note with Crypto leveraging slick alien technology that allows him to take on a human disguise. This facade needs to be occasionally refuelled by brain zapping more humans. There are, however, additional obstacles like EMP devices and pervasive Majestic agents that force you to avoid staying in their view cone for too long, but they don’t provide much more challenge beyond zig-zagging towards your objective. While in stealth mode, Crypto must also perform various tasks both required or optional in order to progress the story forward. There is a bit of detective work that’s involved as you need to scan humans (mind read) to derive the location of key items hidden within the level. In other instances, you need to leverage your alien tech to stealthily sneak into highly restricted areas in order to perform acts of sabotage. The remaining half of missions involve going loud, and well, destroying all humans. This is where Crypto can go full-tilt blasting out with his arsenal of high tech alien weaponry to take out entire armed forces including tanks and mechs.
Each campaign mission has anywhere from one to four optional objectives that can involve not getting detected, killing enemies in a certain way or destroying specific vehicles. These optional objectives add an extra twist to the combat encounters and if missed can easily be replayed.
The third-person shooting mechanic is also not overly complex, but this does not detract from the fun factor or difficulty level of the game. Confrontations with opponents are easy as your main weapon automatically locks onto enemy targets. This allows Crypto to dynamically move and fire smoothly, dodging into cover or out of the way of missiles between each shot. All of the weapons have varying ammo capacities and damage levels as you’d expect in a shooter of this type. Finally, the integrated weapon wheel allows for easy switching, so utilizing all of your tools during a firefight feels pretty natural and seamless.
Causing mayhem and destruction is incredibly fun and when the game is at its best! In special missions, Crypto also gets to pilot his trusty flying saucer. Its weapons lack the variety of crypto’s own loadout, but wrecking a town’s worth of buildings still feels pretty great! Crypto’s space ride is no joke. All of the on-board weapons produce massive fiery leftovers. Nearly every building explodes into smithereens which really makes you feel like a seriously menacing alien badass.
Crypto’s impressive artillery can be upgraded and researched throughout the game by harvesting the DNA of human brains. Thankfully the upgrade tree is not overly deep when it comes to enhancing your weapons and abilities. Furthermore, harvesting brains also isn’t really all that difficult either. While the two actions are reciprocal, the upgrade system works very well to keep you advancing and completing objectives in order to achieve that next new weapon type or upgrade.
There is a lack of variety in the human enemies though. Crypto’s foes are limited to regular police officers, heavier militant soldiers and our friends, the Majestic at the toughest end of the threat meter. The vehicles run into a similar issue with the only offensive ones being tanks and robot mechs. Much like human enemies on foot, vehicles also rely primarily on bullets and guns. A wider variety of enemy units would have made for a heartier roster and would definitely intensify the on-screen action. That said, combat encounters, while fun and engaging overall, may begin to feel repetitive as you get used to mowing down the similar waves of human resistance.
Crypto will encounter three ruthless boss fights over the course of his mission. Two of these fights take place back-to-back at the end of the campaign. Regardless of when, each boss has a large health bar that needs to be drained three times in order to be defeated. Unlike the regular human baddies, bosses pack more of a punch and take quite a while to whittle down. This may become tedious by the third encounter. Luckily each boss only has a handful of attacks, all of which are accented by an early warning nuance. Patterned attacks and movement can be memorized after a few tries, and soon enough, big bad special attacks become easily dodgeable.
Destroy All Humans may show its age in some places, but the refreshing reboot is what gives this version of the adventure its renewed charm. While certain cutscene animations somewhat remind us that the game was released a decade and a half ago, at its core, the loop of causing destruction and mayhem, laying waste to cities and humans still feels rather satisfying. The game definitely aligns with most modern gaming themes and conventions that are currently trending in 2020, so there is no need to feel like playing this game will dull or dumb down your shooter skills. If anything, the game will encourage the growth of your inner gamer. The overall gameplay, along with the accompanying fun factor holds up reasonably well. Plus, the memorable storyline and cheesy voice acting will definitely please fans of the comic sci-fi genre.
Whether it’s 2005 or 2020 there’s something cathartic about running amuck in an idyllic 1950s world as angry pint-sized alien and slurping up human brains by the gallon. All things considered, the completely remade graphics are very pleasing and there’s plenty of detail and vivid colour palettes used across the worlds. Human characters are much more cartoonish than they originally were, which works well, and even though their animations aren’t great, the redone cutscenes are still a big improvement nonetheless.
Destroying all the humans will keep you busy for about 15 hours. You’ll laugh and groan at the majority of jokes and bad one-liners in the game’s goofy dialogue. Don’t worry, it will make for an overall enjoyable experience. Blasting through the bright and cheery 1950s world of Destroy All Humans is a simple but satisfying kind of fun. There’s a lot to be said for that. Just like the original, this remastered comedy is a little hit or miss, but its attitude comes out in full force thanks to some gratifyingly powerful alien abilities that let you mow down the puny human resistance just like the gritty overlord you’ve always wanted to be!