Thursday, 6 August 2009

Game Review: Too Human

I've got a few posts that need catching up on, Sam's helped me with our Power Trip posts and a new one of those will be on the way shortly, but for now I'm going to tell you about one of the video games I've been playing. I can't say recently as it's been a while since I completed this and I've gone through a few others since, but I'll get this one out of the way before getting on to more recent titles. I bought this game as a way to force myself to branch off from only buying franchise games such as Halo and Star Wars games and get into something original, and it's kinda worked, with a few more SF titles in my collection.

Rough Plot

So this game is an interpretation of Norse mythology, following the story of Baldur, the central character. An army of evil machines has been attacking the human settlements and it is up to the Gods to defend them. Baldur tracks one machine, Grendel, to a nightclub and battles it as it feasts on human flesh, eventually driving it away by severing it's arm. This leads to a wider conspiracy as Baldur leads his men deep into enemy territory, battling machine goblins and dark elves and even rogue Gods. Baldur must also journey into cyberspace to speak to the NORNS and solve puzzles to unlock doors and pathways in the real world. Most of this plot is being orchestrated by Loki, who has allied himself with his machines and plans to bring destruction to Asgard.


The game uses the controls in a different way than expected, which takes a bit of getting used to. The game plays as more of a 'dungeon crawler' than traditional fighting game, more akin to games like Diablo than your average RPG or shooter. You have a distant over the shoulder camera to give you a clear aerial view of your character as you battle hordes of monsters. The most unusual thing is using the stick for combat, an appendage normally resevred solely for movement or camera control, now you use one stick to move and the other to attack, which is confusing, but gives you the advantage of being able to precisely place your sword blows. There are plenty of tricks to learn by making wide sweeps, or 'juggling' - knocking an enemy into the air then keeping them suspended by shooting them with your guns.
However, while there is a variety of attacks, there are only so many ways you can use them and the levels are very long and linear, which can make for tedious gameplay. There is enough veriety in enemies, but the levels are so long you end up fighting the same type of baddie a lot towards the end. The scenery is immense and each level has a distinct syle, but again the sheer length of the levels makes it tedious towards the end. Death sparks off a cinematic of a Valkyire carrying you off into Valhalla, but then it drops you back into the action, meaning death has no consequences besides a short delay, which meant there was no incentive to stay alive so I'd just charge recklessly into a fight, use all my special attacks, take out as many enemies as possible, die, then come back and finish them off.

Sci-Fi stuff

Trolls and Goblins

Too Human's clever gimmick is reinterpreting the whole of Norse mythology as a Sci-Fi adventure. The Gods are cybernetically enhanced soldiers, Asgrad is a literally digital fortress and the goblins and trolls you meet are robotic enemies. The Goblins of the game are clever as they are truly goblin-like in form, skulking around and striking from the shadows, trolls are giant mechanoids swinging crushing hammers and dark elves are four legged monstrosities that are still strangely elegant and even have bows as their primary weapon.
I found this to work very well and created an exciting world and a great way to explore Norse mythology.


Another cool element in Too Human is that you visit Cyberspace, another SF interpretation of the Norse myths. The famous 'world tree' is now a giant server of sorts, with roots and branches comprised of immense data cables. Within this other realm lie the NORNS, artificial intelligences that store ancient data and can also provide access to the machinery and technology you encounter through remote interfaces known as wells. You are transported from an ice palace or tech noir citadel to green fields and rivers and consult the cyber witches for advice or solve puzzles to open doorways. In cyberspace you can move object with your mind, lifting them, pushing them and. later in the game, setting fire to them which makes for interesting gameplay and a break from the army of goblins that are sure to be around the corner.

Worth Playing?

Yes and no. I enjoyed this game and I'm glad I bought it. You can probably pick it up quite cheaply now and at resell price it probably is worth a punt, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.
The story and setting are excellent, with great cinematics and a very novel idea for the game. The gameplay is intriguing, but gets very tedious and you get quite detatched from the action as if you're fighting your way to the next cinematic, which then reminds you what the story's about and gets you excited for a while until the next long, combat-laden road. The cinematics are epic and well worth seeing, but the gameplay in between them is a little too long in my opinion and finally getting the movie is a great reward, but it sometimes comes too late - unlike say Halo Wars which has brilliant cinematics and well paced varied levels so you're not waiting too long for the next movie.
So if you dig cool technology, norse gods and interesting gameplay pick it up, at a reasonable price of course!

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