In 2005, Pandemic Studios (Rest in Peace) released the cult-classic alien invader game: Destroy All Humans. The PS2-era title was beloved by fans for its irreverent humor, fun and chaotic gameplay, and a notable time period for the game’s setting.
After going dormant in 2010, the IP seemed like it was a relic of the 2000s, never to be seen again. But good ol’ THQ Nordic and Black Forest Games has revived it for a successful remake that updates the game for the modern age. THQ Nordic published Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated last month but as I noted in my review, it felt far more like a remaster than a remake. Destroy All Humans is the opposite and feels like a true to form remake.
With overhauled visuals, new art, gameplay features, and content, Destroy All Humans feels like revisiting an old friend who has had some really great plastic surgery. While all the story beats and locations were familiar to me, it felt like it was something that someone who didn’t know the original could pick up and enjoy without even knowing its a remake of a game from 2005.
With that said, if you’re not a fan and are new to the series, here’s a basic overview. Destroy All Humans follows an alien Jack Nicholson sound-alike named Crypto-137. Crypto is sent to Earth by the Furon empire after his clone brother (Crypto-136) crashes on the planet in 1959 and goes missing. Crypto’s mission is to find and rescue 136 while also bringing the human race to its knees.
There’s lots of fun to be had in this cult-classic but it quickly becomes apparent there’s not a ton of variety to the missions. You go somewhere, tail someone, stealth into a restricted area, blow some stuff up, and then leave. There are optional objectives and some by the numbers side missions like races but it’s mostly stuff that you’ll do for achievements rather than out of wanting to do it. This all happens for about 8-ish hours and then it’s over.
There are a few variations in those main missions and a couple boss fights but it’s a lot of the same in a short period of time. Of course, it’s hard to hurl this as a criticism of the remake since this is a carry-over from the original game.
Still, I really enjoyed my time with these missions. Despite the lack of variety, it didn’t feel repetitive. It just left a desire for different kinds of objectives to spice it up a bit more. The gameplay is a large part of what’s holding it all together.
Destroy All Humans has had a pretty significant upgrade to its gameplay in the remake. Now you can multi-task by shooting your gun and using your telekenesis to pick up people or objects at the same time, allowing for you to be much more efficient and deadly. Everything feels much smoother, making it far easier to cause more chaos. You’re a true one man (or alien) army.
Even traversing the levels is much more fun via a new “S.K.A.T.E.” mechanic. Crypto is now equipped with some hoverboots that allow him to basically skate around the world as he pleases. It can only be used in a limited burst at first but once upgraded, can be used as much as you want and makes for an incredibly speedy and exciting way to move around the world. It’s a welcome addition since there’s no sprint button and Crypto’s jetpack only carries him so far.
There are a plethora of other new abilities that act as additions to Crypto’s regular arsenal. There are small skill trees to allow for stronger abilities but also add new effects such as slow-motion, larger explosions, and much more. Again, this is exactly what sets Destroy All Humans apart from being a simple remaster. It delivers a gameplay experience anyone can fall in love with. It’s a proper remake in that it makes the effort to be enough for both fans and newcomers alike.
The other substantial piece holding Destroy All Humans together is its great humor. You’d think after all this time, it would be a bit dated but given its satirizing an older time period already, it holds up remarkably well. The jokes still hit and while there’s a noticeable amount of repeated dialogue from NPCs, they’re funny enough that they take a while to get tired of.
They really ground you in the game’s already beautifully designed 1950s America. That one that everyone feels nostalgic for but forgets about all the racism and other nasty stuff that it was plagued with. The picture-esque American dream 1950s with the bright cars, the crisp, green lawns with white picket fences, and the decade-specific clothing. It’s all fully realized with the art direction and the satirical dialogue from human NPCs.
While it won’t be a game of the year contender, Destroy All Humans stands tall against other 2020 competitors by updating itself for the modern age. With smooth and efficient gameplay, across the board upgrades, and a timeless satire on the 1950s, Destroy All Humans almost effortlessly sets the stage to rebuild itself as a prominent franchise once again.