Review: Too Human

Too Human is the story of the god Baldur defending a science-fiction version of a mythological Norse world from waves upon waves of robots. The influences of Phantasy Star Online can be felt heavily throughout the game, and is unfortunately most pronounced in the dated gameplay mechanics as well. Although the main draw, multiplayer coop, is mildly disappointing, it will probably be the only thing that saves the game from being quickly forgotten.

Baldur, the main character, starts off as a simple warrior at the disposal of the Norse gods, who use him to combat the armies of robots that have taken over most of the frozen world. Sadly, the story only picks up when game is almost over, and even then is only a passing interest. The game also never really makes it clear if these events take place in the far distant future (thus the advanced technology), or if this is a fever dream of what the world was once like many years ago when Norse mythos was created.

Aside from the absence of the story sequences, which were uninteresting and long enough in the beginning to almost entirely be skipped, the single player is almost exactly the same as multiplayer. The only other difference between the two modes is that the squad mates that follow Baldur around are gone in co-op. This is really a blessing in disguise since their only purpose, besides being slaughtered by enemies, is to spout out annoying, uninteresting dialog.

Although five classes populate the world it seems that the mild choices boil down to weak support classes or all out attack. The archetypes only differ in the weapons and armor each is allowed to choose from. Most of the classes end up playing identically, as the enemies aren’t really diverse enough to warrant a change in tactics.

Enemies in the game only seem to have two forms of movement: charge and attack. This becomes rather annoying when entering a new stage as enemies are buffed and armor from previous stages is generally underpowered, forcing the player to die repeatedly before managing to make any headway in the stage. One the other hand, that doesn’t really seem to matter because death only causes a 30 second delay before the character respawns at a safe distance with minor damage to armor. The broken armor doesn’t really matter because Baldur seems to take the same amount of damage regardless of the integrity of his armor.

New items are constantly dropped throughout the game, which is Too Human’s crowning achievement. All equipment and weapons display differently on Baldur, showing the height of rare drops or the shame of wearing pink boots. Drops rates from enemies always seem to be consistently high enough to warrant fighting through another swarm simply for drops. While this can promote a feeling of trash items constantly dropping, especially in the first half of the game, the last two areas manage to find a good pace between constant, “meh” drops and worthwhile items.

The four levels of the game seem to continually borrow assets from each other, making them all blend together. The entire experience feels bland and, thanks to invisible walls placed over most things in the game, non-interactive. Characters repeatedly have feet slipping through the floor, something that is noticeable for every 30 second death scene, making the game’s overall look rather unpolished.

Melee attacking is done entirely through the right stick, making the game play strangely like a dual stick shooter. Skills learned through the small tech tree are mapped onto the face buttons on the controller, although none of the unique skills learned on any branch of the skill tree feel useful. The only useful skills the game gives seem to be the ones that the class gets regardless of the tree progression. Most skills seem to function like bombs in a dual stick shooter as they only have purpose when swamped by enemies. Shooting awkwardly requires holding down the triggers and aiming with the right analog stick while moving with the left. The entire control experience ends up feeling weird and wrong.

Attacking on the right stick also takes control of the camera totally away from the player. Baldur moves according to the position that the camera is in at any given time, and since the game randomly decides where the player should be looking at any given moment, Baldur has a tendency to seem willful and randomly do things he was never instructed to do. Most of the time the camera points the player to where they should be going or the enemy that they should be attacking, but it also gets stuck behind walls occasionally

Too Human isn’t a game for everyone. The sizeable, hard-to-ignore flaws that are littered throughout make it sad that this is the best successor to Phantasy Star Online that has come along so far. What Too Human does well it does very well, but it just doesn’t do enough of it. Four areas and a rather low level range mean that replaying the 10 short hours it takes to beat the game isn’t really worth it. Too Human is an above-average game held back by below-average design mistakes.

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