Humanity

Review: Humanity

I don’t need an open world or swords to enjoy video games. Enhance is one of the developers that continue delivering the most exciting experiences. In my eyes, Tetsuya Mizuguchi is one of the finest developers out there — the man has worked on Rez, Lumines, Child of Eden and The Tetris Effect: Connected. Picking up the publishing duties on Humanity, a title from developer THA Limited, I knew from the demo that this is something in Enhance’s wheelhouse.

I would have expected Humanity from the former Japan Studio, which brought us Tokyo Jungle. Instead, Yugo Nakamura, the founder of THA Limited, steps up to give us the next profound experience on PlayStation. It would be criminal not to mention his inspiration for Humanity. In this title, Nakamura wanted to explore “human behaviour simulation,” a fictional way for transcendental beings to observe and interpret humans. The premise of Humanity is insane, and honestly, it is all the better for it.

Dog Saves Humanity

In short, you play as a god, but the longer answer is that you’re a dog with godly powers where humans will do your bidding and follow every command. In Humanity, you control a Shiba Inu and make humans do what you say. You can make the humans jump, turn, float, swim, climb, and more to reach their goals in each stage. The more you play Humanity, the more mechanics are introduced with further challenges to keep you busy. This is a boon to Humanity’s success as it smartly introduces new mechanics while rarely burdening the player with new mechanics at the worst time.

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Like most games from the developer, the story isn’t the main course; instead, it is the various puzzles and levels of interaction you’ll have across more than 90 levels. And I’m not saying the story isn’t worth experiencing as it can offer something reflective in the right hands, but don’t go in expecting the team to win a Nebula Award.

At first, you only have the direction command, diverting the stream of people in any of the four primary directions. Later, you will discover other abilities or powers as explained in-game, ranging from various jumps to giving people properties like floating, climbing, shooting, etc. By observing the path the humans take, you can make combinations such as placing a floating ability before a jump to make people go further or so they don’t die when falling from a height of more than one cube. When the stream of people reaches the designated goal area, it will generate a white square that will grow to the size of a cube and turn green to indicate that you have passed the level.

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But, if you thought it would all be so simple, there is something you should know. The main area shows a colossal area populated by people, many of whom gather in a central location, and around this location of people, statues with names begin to emerge. The first statue is Awakening, and each of these statues consists of several levels you must pass to unlock the following figure.

To unlock the next stage, you must collect several Gold (Goldies) statues, figures that Goldies are more prominent than average, showcasing a golden human figure. You can find these Goldy throughout the levels, and, to rescue them, you must lead the stream of people to touch them so that they join the crowd and follow the path to the ascension area. You can’t do the bare minimum and expect to succeed here, as you’ll need to ensure you’re completing the main path and engaging enough of the side content to get the best experience. You’ll also want to experience the sidequests because they’re pretty solid ways to extend the playtime while not being egregiously overbearing. Plus, there’s an additional progression system time to competing the sidequests that provide cosmetics and gameplay additions.

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Humanity is a title full of symbolism, allusions, and references to evolutionary, cultural and creative changes in human thought, behaviour and socialization. It’s a game that uses cryptic replicas, the symbolism of game mechanics, AI behaviour, and architectural scenes to describe war, love, blind following, our exaggerated ignorance of the world around us, and many other elements of human life. How you understand these images is left to you, and I guarantee you that Humanity has something for you regarding ideology and gameplay. It’s tough to bring you close to a giant levitating head composed of intertwined human bodies with just the written word. I also believe that the developers leave a lot of factors up to the players’ interpretation.

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Humanity is a visually impressive experience, offering a minimalistic approach to gameplay and storytelling.

As I mentioned earlier, the puzzles bring many innovative approaches, but I often felt there was only one single solution for multiple levels. I found this was especially noticeable because usable commands are limited in Humanity. That’s when the game could annoy me, but it certainly has nothing on that satisfying feeling when you finally arrive at the right solution. Naturally, you’ll struggle with the camera and controls, but the game’s most limiting factor is its basic dog control mechanics. Despite this creative method, essential to many puzzles (following Shibu’s guidance), free control over everything or some form of God mode, at least when saving commands, would have suited me better. However, Humanity intelligently helps itself here as well, and so not only is your Shibu immortal, but as time speeds up, his movements quicken, and he can use a sort of astral form to transform into people and thus effectively outrun a crowd or even jump incredibly high.

 

Verdict

Humanity is another successful entry in Enhance’s catalogue. It’s filled with charm and challenges players to evolve alongside its gameplay. If you’ve ever played Lemmings, you’ll understand what to expect as it’s cut from the same cloth. However, Enhance’s penchant for elevating whatever they’re working on makes Humanity a must-play, and thankfully, it’s currently free for PlayStation Plus subscribers this month.

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PS5

Humanity
Summary
Humanity is another successful entry in Enhance's catalogue. It's filled with charm and challenges players to evolve alongside its gameplay.
Liked
A creative puzzler with some philisophical themes
Challening and engaging right to the end
There are in-game solutions if you're stuck
User creation tools to help longevity
Didn't Like
Repetitive music