PlayStation 5, PlayStation VR2, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Steam
Humanity is a new game from tha ltd. and Enhance Games that hybridizes puzzle solving and 3D platforming. Its elegant minimalist presentation and captivating audio direction create a dazzling experience. While those who remember other puzzle games like Lemmings or even The Incredible Machine will understand some of the game’s flow, the experience feels wholly unique.
As a dog instructed by an aimless voice to direct people to the light, players dive further into the game’s surreal abstract world as they progress through the campaign. The dog moves across a blocky environment and places commands onto the floor. An infinite crowd of people walks forward, and they turn, jump, and more as they walk over the dog’s commands. The overall objective is to direct the crowd so that they reach the designated goal. All in all, the game controls well as the dog moves snappily and quickly while being able to jump quite high.
However, with its mix of ideas and mechanics, the game has a slight learning curve. For some, the mix of platforming and puzzle solving may take a while to click. It may take multiple tries to figure out each stage’s internal logic. The game generally does not hold players’ hands, so it will not signal players if they make a mistake or need to start over.
Furthermore, it throws other wrenches that will keep players on their toes. For example, humans can only fall so far before splatting, they can perform actions like swimming and climbing on their own. They sometimes spawn from multiple entrances, and the dog will even need to “dive” into the crowd for extra traversal options. Figuring out how to direct the crowd can take a bit of finesse and practice. It is advisable to plan and place nodes ahead of time. Sometimes, however, plans go awry and players will need to hustle and redirect crowds, or just start over.
The plus side is that the campaign does not feel like it has “filler.” Each stage feels pretty unique and substantial, and the game does not go totally off the rails. It gradually introduces new obstacles and designates a few commands per stage so that it does not overwhelm players. The campaign is also clearly divided into separate worlds that each focus on a given visual motif and a certain set of mechanics. Though players will undoubtedly require some perseverance to clear the campaign, solving stages feels quite rewarding. There are solution videos available per stage, but the game tracks how many times the player watches them.
Another aspect that diversifies the main campaign is the Goldy system. Goldys are optional collectibles present in each stage. Once touched, a Goldy will actually come to life and join the crowd. However, the caveat is that they can fall off the edge and become “lost,” which will require players to restart the stage to collect them. Collecting a given number is necessary to move onto the next world, and reaching overall thresholds unlocks more mechanics and cosmetic options.
The game encourages building enough understanding of its mechanics to go off the beaten path and collect Goldys rather than ignoring them. Fortunately, the game generally gives just enough leeway so that players do not have to track every Goldy or replay stages too many times to move onto the next world. However, the general flow of unlocking content can feel a bit obtuse and strange. One might expect mechanics like seeing switch functions and stopping time to be part of the game by default, but they actually have to be unlocked.
On a sheer presentation level, the game’s minimalist style is quite elegant. The world is stark with bold shapes, and interestingly the most color is from the crowd itself. This sense of simplicity is striking, and the visual effects such as water translucency are compelling. Seeing the crowd move across each stage is delightful, especially with just how many are on screen at any given time.
Much like the visual presentation, the audio design is remarkable in its simplicity. The game provides some surreal lo-fi songs that will truly captivate players. Furthermore, the music gradually ramps up in intensity in a natural way. The game plays subtle blips when the dog dives into the crowd, and the “bark” sound byte that plays upon dropping a command is always delightful. As an aside, the subtle haptic feedback does feel wonderful and appropriate. For example, the DualSense controller will subtly rumble as the dog is adjacent to spinning fans, and the intensity will even change based on the dog’s position.
Another important notable feature is that this game has an online User Stages hub. Players start by making their own avatar that even has separate Player and Creator experience levels. The search functionality is quite robust with all sorts of selectable tags and categories. The game provides plenty of courses to play, which will certainly only grow over time.
The Stage Creator handles smoothly while simultaneously being incredibly robust. With simple inputs, players can pick block sizes, types of goals, power-ups, the visual motif, the song, and more. It is rather easy to quickly construct and test a new course, especially since the game has clear video tutorials and a clean user interface.
Humanity delivers a perfect blend of platforming and puzzle solving alongside a sleek, beautiful presentation that is bit bizarre and surreal. While completing the campaign might take some perseverance especially with so many different kinds of obstacles, each stage feels unique, substantial, and rewarding. For those who want to shake things up, the game’s User Stages mode provides a fun diversion with plenty to discover. Humanity is worthwhile for puzzle enthusiasts or anybody seeking something different. As of the posting of this review, Humanity is also included in the PlayStation Plus Game Catalog, so it is absolutely worth a try for those subscribed to PlayStation Plus Extra or Premium.
Humanity is a beautifully crafted puzzle platformer that will enthrall players with its elegant presentation and minimalist audio design.
Elegant presentation and enthralling audio design
Easy-to-use stage creator
Campaign stages are well constructed and full of varied mechanics