It’s been 15 years since developer Pandemic graced us with the extra-terrestrial power trip that is Destroy All Humans and we’ve still not been wiped out by otherworldly beings. While various video game experiences feature the destruction of mankind, it’s rare that we get to embrace it as a primary loop, which makes this invasion B-Movie romp somewhat unique.
Destroy all Humans might not have absolutely needed a remake, but in doing so, THQNordic and Black Forrest have given this ridiculous parody another chance at showing us what it’s like to be the little green man at the top of a Space Invaders screen.
Destroy all Humans places players in the space boots of Cryptosporidium, a member of the Furon empire – typical Greys reminiscent one of those weird aliens in the goo-filled eggs you’d find in museum gift-shops. Despite the game’s apparent title, Crypto does not solely visit earth to vaporise humans, instead venturing to 1950s Earth to instead retrieve the DNA of his people and save them from extinction. Of course, it doesn’t take long for the human race to do what it does best, which kick starts a tit for tat war against Crypto – unleashing his sadistic tendencies.
While Crypto likely considers the entirety of humanity as his enemy, there are specific groups of humans within the game that pose more of a threat than others. From police shooting first and asking questions later, to the army using their brute force, you’ll have your hands full while attempting to complete each mission. You’ll also have to contend with a secret organisation known as ‘Majestic’, daunting Men in Black that possess the technology to block your vicious alien abilities.
If you’ve seen the movie Mars Attacks, then you’ll be completely familiar with the mechanical concept of Destroy All Humans’ aim of human obliteration. Crypto has two methods of committing genocide: traversing levels on foot and jetpack or taking to the skies in a flying saucer.
On the ground, Crypto can use his telekinetic powers to pick up and throw humans and objects, as well as wield his multifunctional space gun – which provides him with 4 types of firepower. They’re as follows:
The Zap-O-Matic allows Crypto to electrocute the humans without the need for ammo, relying instead on a recharge rate and capacity like a Halo energy weapon. More often than not, you’ll find yourself defaulting to the Zap-O-Matic, since running low on ammo will become a familiar occurrence. Crypto’s versatile weapon also features a disintegration ray, which burns the flesh off enemies, Ion detonator grenades and an anal probe, which enters the stink and extracts victims brains with a satisfying ‘pop’.
Just like his gun, Crypto’s saucer also facilitates four modes of fire: Death-Ray, Abducto Beam, Sonic Boom and Quantium Deconstructor. They do what they say on the tin. Again, just like with the Zap-O-Matic, you’ll likely find yourself using the recharging Death-Ray more than any other mode of fire while you suck up inanimate objects to turn into other forms of ammo.
Fifteen years on and this ammo system still feels needlessly complicated. Instead of creating an incentive to go out your way and restock your weapon, it instead feels like a distracting chore. Considering that Crypto can get by simply using his Zap-O-Matic and telekinesis, there’s little reason to risk your life trying to transmute a random object into ammo while exposing yourself to being discovered, or while being fired upon during combat.
Annoying quirks aside, the combat in Destroy All Humans is just as fun and sadistic as ever. From slamming enemies into the ground or the air with your telekinesis to destroying everything below you from your saucer, there’s plenty of morally questionable fun to be had. Every explosion and death animation feels satisfying, with the game’s effective use of physics making everything fit together just right.
Weapons can be upgraded back at your mothership by your leader, Othopox, in exchange for DNA, relieving some minor combat frustrations in the early game. Most upgrades revolve around being able to use an ability for longer, having better shields or increased ammo capacity, all of which will make your life easier you take away others’. Of course, upgrades progressively cost more and more DNA, providing you with a reason to carry out side-missions within each area, but they do offer new ways of taking on each combat encounter.
The game’s combat is accompanied by more stealthy mechanics such as the ‘Holobob’, a The Thing-esque ability shapeshift into nearby humans. Maintaining this disguise requires Crypto to continually use his psychic powers to scan people’s minds, draining your psychic meter. Unlike the original, you can’t use telekinesis while in disguise; your powers may be more balanced but that leads to slightly less fun.
Crypto’s mind control powers act as a passive-aggressive alternative to full-on combat – vital when it comes to successfully carrying out stealth and infiltration missions. You can make humans follow you, fight on your behalf and deliberately distract others. When combined with the ability to shapeshift, these mechanics are almost as fun as direct human annihilation, as they subtly bolster the game’s deeply embedded humour.
Sneaking through areas likely won’t satisfy stealth connoisseurs. They don’t involve much skill and can be easily achieved by utilising the same tricks and tips, but these segments add more to the hilarity of each situation. The gags and jokes that make up the context of Crypto’s world-dominating adventure rely on exploiting the stupidity of humankind, exaggerating truths about our society and making a spectacle of them and most jokes still land,
When compared to its source material from 2005, Destroy All Humans hasn’t changed that much. Rather than being an outright reimagining like Final Fantasy VII, Destroy All Humans instead follows the same approach as the likes of MediEvil, or the recently released SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated.
Destroy All Humans serves as yet another example of how to recreate a beloved classic, without destroying what made it special. If you loved the original game, then everything that captured your originally his here and accounted for. Hopefully, this remake will mark a triumphant return for the series, which in turn would ensure that this weird little freak of a game can maintain its presence within game libraries for years to come. In any case, we welcome more Destroy All Humans.