Destroy All Humans (2020) Review
A good remaster of a dated game
There’s been remakes and remasters aplenty lately and Black Forest Games have thrown their hat into the ring with a remake of 2005’s Destroy All Humans. Their publisher, THQ Nordic, has already had an ample selection of remasters, Red Faction Guerilla Re-mars-tered and Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated to name just two. This game is just that though: a remaster. There’s no major redesign of the gameplay or the levels or the story, which both helps and hinders it, culminating in a straightforward yet generally enjoyable game of mindless destruction as a powerful alien.
The one major aspect that has been overhauled is the graphics. It looks good – nothing breath-taking but leagues better than the original. The environments have received a major upgrade, even if they are still rather sparse in terms of civilians. The human characters themselves now have a cartoon-y feel, almost treading into uncanny valley. This fits the wacky themes, cliché characters and the setting of 1950s America. All the cutscenes have been re-done and look a lot more dynamic – they all give a better picture of a story than the more static cutscenes of the original.
After this big overhaul of the graphics, however, there isn’t too much of a variance between the original and the remake. The dialogue is taken straight from the 2005 game, with the main character Crypto sounding just like a much angrier Jack Nicholson. Pox, the alien overlord screaming commands at you, is voiced by Richard Horvitz – of Invader Zim fame – who provides most of the humorous dialogue you hear throughout the game. For me, the dialogue and jokes from both main characters and citizens of America were pretty nostalgic and funny. For those getting into the series in 2020 may find more duds than those familiar with it all: probing jokes (including the JUMBO PROBE) as well as the same few lines about famous people from the 1950s can get stale pretty quickly.
The JUMBO PROBE being put to full use.
The gameplay is very much what you expect from the title, with a few stealth portions thrown in. The rather rudimentary stealth mechanics of the game don’t hold up too well, but there’s nothing necessarily bad about them as the sections involving them are short and to the point. On the other hand, I don’t think playing as an overpowered being, enacting total destruction to your surroundings will ever get old. There’s plenty of weapons both on foot and in your saucer available to do that. Three different guns and telekinesis are the bread and butter of your arsenal on foot, all of which feel responsive, along with a classic death ray and two splash damage weapons in your saucer. The main problem with the gameplay is just the heavy-handed auto-aim you’re given on foot, with no option to turn it off. Whether you're playing with a controller or a keyboard and mouse, you only need to aim in the general direction of an enemy to kill them, rather than actually at them.
Reducing this element of challenge seems ultimately silly when the game is, on the whole, very easy. The main missions are all short and simple – usually only lasting around five to fifteen minutes – none of them really posing a great threat to me up until the final mission of the game. Included are side missions to do and drones to collect for extra DNA, which is used to upgrade Crypto or the saucer. The side missions, which appear in every location, are categorised into four types, all with time limits and 1 to 3-star levels of success. There’s armageddon and rampage, which require you to wreak havoc in your saucer and on foot respectively. There are also abduction missions, where you use your telekinesis to send objects and civilians into a roaming tractor beam, as well as race missions, where you chase a rogue drone and collect DNA left in its path. These are all very mundane, especially the abduction missions, and unless you’re a keen completionist I’d only really recommend doing and collecting some just to get a few more upgrades for the final missions. I’d also say this applies for the optional objectives in the main missions: whenever I missed one or two, I never really had any motivation to go back and retry the mission as I wasn’t aiming to 100% the game.
Also available to unlock is a bunch of concept art and some skins for Crypto, including this... interesting option.
Even though the missions are short and sweet, they’re accompanied by a well put together story. You start from humble alien beginnings, first believing that cows are the dominant species on Earth. By the end you’re going head to head with the American government and the secretive federal agency Majestic in an all-out war. There’s also a cut mission from the 2005 game added back in, which fits well into the plot. It explains what actually happened when the humans attempted to launch their own flying saucer which failed in the subsequent mission, by having you sabotage the craft and killing the scientists involved in its creation.
The path of destruction you leave through 1950s America feels satisfyingly fun, and the story you embark on through that path is well thought out. If you’re not nostalgic for the game however, you might not find the same kind of enjoyment considering it’s a short game (it took me around 9 hours to beat, with most side missions completed for the sake of the review) with both extremely limited replay value and a very limited scope of things to do during the main story itself. If this were priced as a triple-A title, I’d feel short-changed, but at £25/$30 it hits the right buttons, especially for those with fond memories of the original. It provides a faithful remaster that doesn’t really push any boundaries beyond its 2005 roots. If you’re new to the series I would honestly wait for a sale: it’s a good, engaging but ultimately limited experience.