Too Human is an interesting, eccentric game by any stretch of the imagination. The plot is extremely unorthodox, featuring a stylish and sometimes intellectual blend of Norse mythology (you play as the Aesir God, Baldur) and high-technology, science fiction settings (you can acquire implants, and shoot laser weapons). The music is a blend of synthesizer and booming primitive drums and horn instruments.
The graphics are intriguing, colorful, and yet sometimes missing that polish that is to be found on contemporary releases such as Mass Effect. The gameplay is frenetic, filled to the brim with action and yet still lacking in the finesse of execution that it dearly deserves.
Too Human, neatly put, is a very enigmatic game.
Setting, Plot, Graphical Atmosphere
Too Human puts the player in the role of Baldur, in ancient Norse myth the God of light and beauty. In this particular narrative, Balder is, in fact, the least cybernetically enhanced of his brethren (those others in the Aesir pantheon including Thor, Tyr, Freya, Mimir, and leader Heimdall), thus taking on the namesake of the game, as “Too Human”.
The pantheon of warrior gods, or Aesir, are the last bastion of hope for the defense of the mortal realm, facing an encroachment on all sides from an invading machine empire. The land held by the mortals shrinks with each change of seasons, and much of the game’s plot centers around the imminent downfall of Aesir supremacy, and the fate of the mortals with it.
Led by Loki, the trickster, the forces of an evil rally to end the reign of the Aesir, and to wreak havoc and revenge against the haughty immortals and their mortal charges. The plot, while possessing a few holes, is interesting and somewhat refreshing.
Graphically, Too Human puts on a visual show that could have used a great deal of polish. The character models look interesting and colorful, the enemies are truly legion, and the environments are large and extremely well designed from an artistic point of view. Standout points with regard to art direction are the bright, inspired colors, beautiful (or conversely, devilish) landscapes, and interesting large-scale scenery.
The problem with all of this content is that it looks somewhat blocky, lacking the rounded polish that other games of this genre have by now made the industry standard.
Gameplay, Controls, Hack and Slash
Many comparisons to Blizzard’s Diablo series can be made with regards to the combat gameplay of Too Human, not many being off the mark. By using the dual thumbsticks of the Xbox 360 controller to simultaneously direct Baldur as well as to use his physical attacks, Silicon Knights took a large gamble in presenting a very unique and untried method of gameplay.
The results are varied – the idea is nice and the execution shows effort, however, there are still errors in the programming that are extremely annoying when faced with a horde of demons to deal with. Targeting, especially with ranged weapons such as pistols, rifles, or cannons can be extremely difficult – oft-times Baldur will be shooting his weapons off into space while the enemies rush forward to close to melee.
The overall gameplay experience is actually quite enjoyable – the combat is fast and furious with literally thousands of randomized item drops that complement the RPG side of the experience quite well. Each piece of armor and every weapon equipped shows up immediately on the character model, and each item looks distinctive and cool. Items are also arranged by rarity, very similar to Diablo or World of Warcraft, with common items being worthless and being less powerful than elite items.
Major Problems, Final Thoughts
Some of the most prominent problems resulting in a play through of Too Human are the title’s obvious bugs and poor design decisions. The most irritating of these is the inability to regenerate health (save for one class that is weak in nearly every other area), meaning that one can expect to die hundreds of times during a single play through – regardless of skill.
Coinciding with this design blunder is the fact that for each time the player dies, they must sit through a long, boring animation of a Valkyrie coming from the heavens to retrieve your corpse. This sequence cannot be skipped via a button press. Major boss battles, such as the final confrontation with Hel in Helheim, are often bugged – removing a great deal of the suspension of disbelief and dealing a blow to an already anti-climactic and weak ending.
All things considered, Too Human is an intriguing, mostly fun game that bears a few fatal flaws that keep it from being considered excellent. For a budget price, it is certainly worth a purchase, though only for fans of the hack and slash or role-playing genres.
Will Silicon Knights release a sequel after this game was dealt with so harshly by critics? Will Baldur track Loki down and deal him his death blow? Only time will tell if the Aesir have what it takes to drive the scourge of evil from lands that rightfully belong to Odin and the mortal realm.